What can you really do about so much noise but laugh?
I’m a relatively light sleeper, and have learned to travel with earplugs. In fact, before departing on this part of our travel/working experience, Carrie and I bought a box of 500+ earplugs on Amazon.
We used some of these at La Tortuga Feliz and haven’t used them too much since. Not that we haven’t had occasion to. With the exception of Hotel Angela (where we had an interior room) and our time in Boquete, Panama, every morning and often in the middle of the night, I’ve been awoken by the sounds of roosters, children, fireworks, children, dogs, parades, or bells. In general, I find North Americans and American culture to be pretty noisy, but I’m finding Central Americans and Central America to be even noisier.
As I’m writing this, Carrie just woke up and asked me (first thing – not “good morning” or anything like that, but) “Is that a dog or a sick frog?”
In general, every city in Central America (and in Argentina) has some stray dogs which seem to do the majority of their barking between 9PM and 3AM. About 2:30 AM and continuing through to about 5:30 or 6:00 AM come the roosters. They continue throughout the day, but this is when the majority of their sounds occur. Roosters are PLENTIFUL in almost every place we’ve been in Central America, most of them sharing their calls LONG before I can see any sign of sunlight.
Then come the fireworks. I like fireworks as much as anyone, but regardless of where we have been (again excepting Boquete), there have been fireworks every day just before 6AM, just before 6PM, and frequently around noon. Sometimes they also get shot off for a few minutes at midnight.
Why so many fireworks? Well, apparently that’s what they do in Central America in December and January to celebrate Christmas. There’s even a saying in nicaragua which goes something along the lines of “a man always has money for beer and fireworks, even if he can’t afford to feed his own family.”
In Granada, Nicaragua, they have 9 days of celebrations for the Immaculate Conception of Jesus in which they revere statues of Mary and parade them through the town to the church. These are fun festivals which include candied apples, trinkets, and of course, fireworks.
I’ve tried to get more in-depth explanations in the other cities where we’ve been of why people light off so many fireworks, and the response has been that it’s part of Christmas tradition.
We’ve come to love geckos and the sound they make because it means there’s something around us eating bugs and flying insects. But geckos as well are quite loud.
There are church bells which go off at 6AM, and in some places, every hour as well.
In David, Panama, where there used to be several banana plantations for Chiquita, there’s a siren sound that goes off three times/day, something like 7AM, 12PM and 7PM, marking the beginning and end of the work day, and lunch/siesta time. It’s not really necessary since the advent of the alarm clock, but they continue to do it (as we understand it) out of tradition. Also in David, we happened to be there for the Panamanian Independence Days celebrations, which meant being awoken both days by parades. I thoroughly enjoyed these parades – just giving a sense of all the noises around.
Construction, in hot places like Granada, begins at 7AM (or earlier). I’m assuming they do this so that there’s time for the afternoon siesta, because it really is too darn hot to work in the middle of the day.
Usually, by this time of day (7:30 AM), there is someone up and around in the hotels and apartments we’re in (as there is right now), making usual morning noises like opening doors, scooting chairs, taking showers, making coffee, sneezing, whistling, or attempting to talk quietly. And if you have managed to sleep through all of that, there are always children playing somewhere by (at the latest) 8:30 AM.
Maybe it’s just the places we have been, or the speed at which we’ve been traveling the past couple of weeks. When we slowed down in Boquete, Panama, it was quiet there. When we slowed down in Bocas Del Toro, it was quiet there. But part of the reason we slowed down our travel in those places is because it was quiet there. So, I’m not really sure which came first.
In any case, it seems that life in Central America is (in general) loud. It’s not so much a complaint as a statement of fact and a realization (on my part) of this fact.
One thing I’m really liking this morning in Antigua is the cool, crisp air. It’s really nice to be able to huddle down under a couple layers of blankets in the 60degree (Fahrenheit) temperature.