The Sounds of Merida
The knife man came today. I don’t know what he is really called – guess I should ask Gaspar or Berta – but I call him the knife man because he comes around and sharpens our knives, scissors, and garden tools. This is just one of the things we love about living in Mexico: people can still hang out their shingle and make a living performing many of the tasks of day-to-day existence. And it also comprises some of the unique sounds of Merida.
I had all our knives and garden tools piled in the corner of the kitchen for several days. We have been listening for the sound of the knife man: a toot up the scale of his pan flute. So when we finally heard it echoing down the street, out the door we rushed to make certain he did not pass us by. He sharpened about 20 items, oiled the garden tools, sanded them when required, and off he went again on his bike, his portable grinder perched on the back. Tooooooot! Tooooooot!
When we first moved to Merida we would wonder what all the different sounds were about. We heard a ding-ding-ding, a clang-clang, a whistle, a bike horn, even voices shouting (shouting what, we didn’t know). We quickly learned that we had better learn the different sounds if we wanted fresh fruit, bread, cold drinks, ice cream, a delivery bike service, or our knives sharpened.
A couple of our regular vendor visitors have no sound at all; they simply knock on our door. And I guess it kind of makes sense that the flower man doesn’t blast his plants with a harsh ding-ding or horn.
We love living in Merida, but Gawd, it’s noisy! From the neighbors’ blaring stereo speakers, to the ancient busses clanking down the street, to the guard dog at the feed store on the next street over, to the constant celebratory fireworks, there’s a lot going on. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. People in Merida do not seem to be parked in front of the TV day and night; the kids are not bug-eyed in front of Xbox. The locals get outside and enjoy their wonderful city. These are sounds of lives being lived, of families enjoying themselves, of children screeching in pleasure at the sight of bottle rockets soaring into the sky. And your only recourse is to get out there and join in the fun. We said we wanted to live in a different country to experience a different way of living, and so here we are. We would be foolish not to take advantage of these experiences – and to get our knives sharpened.