Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Sounds Of Santos

I think this extends beyond just my in-laws, because it seems to be the same everywhere we go. People in Santos like noise.

My MIL always has at least one radio and one TV on at the same time. Sometimes three! And the volume is turned up almost to the max. Sometimes, it´s so loud I can´t understand what´s being said.

The dishwasher and washing machine each run loudly twice a day. The living room fan whirs to keep us cool.

Then outside, there are street hawkers calling for customers with kazoos and harmonicas, ship horns blowing, and cars honking at every corner (to warn people they are going to go through the intersection). There´s a constant sound of water wooshing as maids do their daily cleaning of the front of the houses, including rinsing off the sidewalks.

People seem to like to whistle while they walk. The neighbor´s dog yips all day long, and boys ride three to a bicycle singing loud soccer songs as they swerve down the street. When Gilberto´s dad and brother come home for lunch, they ring the doorbell 20 times in a row, or more, until they´re let in.

Sometimes cars drive down our street blaring political announcements from a giant loudspeaker attached to the roof.

At night things start to settle down a bit. People head out to bars and for evening walks, talking as they get in cars and greet people they know. But our neighborhood doesn´t have any nearby bars, so we can only hear a faint whisper of disco music as it floats down our street.

Florescent lightbulbs hum as they give off light. Gabi sings in her makeshift tub as she washes the day´s grime off, and then sings again while I put on her pajamas. Laughter from neighbors´ houses fills the air and dogs bark greetings to their owners. Somehow, evening seems sweeter.

I love when it´s finally time to go to bed, and we can shut the door and window to all the outside noises, replacing it with the droning of the air conditioner. That´s loud, too, but at least it´s only one sound, that drowns out all the others.

I miss the quietness of my neighborhood in the States. But I think when I leave here, I´ll miss all the noise, too. This is definitely a place full of life. Of living.

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