Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mexico Sings

Everyone sings in Mexico.  Some well, others well...you know.  I hear the street vendors singing all day long on their rounds through the neighborhoods.  I am a gringo living in Mexico, in a small city near the border to San Diego.  Many of my friends live in the large condo developments dotting the coastline south to Ensenada, but I chose to live in the real Mexico. Hence my house in a community in town.  Not on the beach.  Not surrounded by other Norte Americanos.
I live where I can hear the music.  The man who pushes a cart through the neighborhoods sings about sharpening knives and scissors.  Several different men sing about ice cream, popsicles as I called them as a child, here called paletas—flavors of fruits, mango, coconut, papaya, kiwi, peach, strawberry and raspberry.  The garbage men sing, I can't make out their words, maybe it's just to let everyone know to bring out the cans please.  Or maybe they just sing for the pleasure of it.
A truck goes by with a recording singing the gas man is here.  Then another truck, loudspeaker blaring songs of the circus and the wonders to be seen.  This is replaced almost weekly by circus after circus; each with its own brand of miraculous things under the various tents I can see the top of from my house if I look out my bedroom window and crane my neck just so.  And their songs change to match the acts and events.  Some sing louder than others, volume jacked up to the max.  I imagine the loud ones desperate after five really bad money years, troupe not fully paid and complaints on all sides. 
I don't go to the circus.  I don't like to see the animals.  It worries me that they might not have enough water in the heat, enough food to fill their stomachs.  People tend to fill their stomachs first and the animals are an afterthought.  Hard times are harder on those who stand on four feet, hooves or paws.  And they can't sing for their supper.
We have concerts once again, events with music flood the town with song because tourists are back.  Many I can hear from my open window.  Parties always have earsplitting music.  It's de rigueur.  If the music isn't loud the people aren't having a good time.  And no one seems to go to bed.  Ever.  This past Sunday at 5:30 AM someone parked their truck under my window and serenaded me with Mexican ranchero music that blasted my sleep to pieces.
My neighbors occasionally give parties with karaoke machines on the front porch.  All partiers must join in, singing at the top of their lungs to whatever song is playing.  Until late.  Very late.  Very loud.
But I don't say anything.  I remember years when no one made a sound.  We all stayed home and were quiet. Very, very quiet.  Fear does that.  Street murders and kidnappings stemming from drug wars took away the songs.  But, thankfully, the music is back. 
When I first moved to Mexico, eight years ago, I learned to sleep to Mexican rap music exploding in my window all night long.  I was smart enough to move to a quieter locale, but since then I've also learned an excellent lesson: loud songs and music are more comforting on the nerves than the silence of fear—so go ahead Mexico, sing your songs all night long and I'll be the one applauding!

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