Casa Del Maya B&B

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Sounds of Merida

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. 
               

The first sound we learned was for the bread man.  He, and every other bread man in Merida, rings a bike horn just like we used to have on our bikes when we were kids.  Honka-honka!  When you hear that horn you have about 20 seconds to get to the door and yell, “Pan!”, or he’ll be down the street and gone; he moves fast.  But the bread we get off the street vendors is some of the best in the city.  They usually have French loaves, baguettes, sweet breads of camote (sweet potato), dulce de leche (caramel), or potato, and even donuts.  On lazy nights we catch the bread man and make a meal out of 2 or 3 different varieties.  Like Pavlov’s dog, whenever I hear a bike horn I start salivating.  And for some reason I’ve noticed that the little neighbor kid riding his bike down the street while ringing his bell always crosses to the other side if I’m standing out front of the house.  Go figure.
               
Now we have grown accustomed to hearing the various sounds and have learned the meaning of most of them.  The ice cream man makes a clang-clang-clang by hitting an old car’s wheel drum with a hammer.  If you are too close to him it is deafening; I wonder if the poor man has any hearing left.  The most interesting is a, presumably, husband-and-wife team.  The husband pedals their three-wheel bike down the street, chock full of mameys, those football-shaped fruits, the pulp of which has the consistency of and tastes like a sweeter sweet potato.  The wife walks along the sidewalk, under an umbrella to shield her from the harsh sun, yelling, “Mameeeeeeeey!  Mameeeeeeeey!”
                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. 
               
The most interesting may be the dirt cart.  A mule-drawn cart comes down our street about twice a month, full of sacks of dirt for sale for $40 pesos per sack.  “Tierrrrrrra!  Tierrrrrrra!”  But when we hear that sound, we hide.  If you open the door when they ring your bell they will not leave until you purchase a sack or two.  In Spanish, they insist we need dirt:  “You have a garden?  You need dirt!  Yes, two bags.  You need dirt.  Never enough dirt.  You buy my dirt!”  They simply will not take “no” for an answer.  So we end up ducking in the corner of the kitchen, out of sight of the window lest they peek through, like criminals avoiding the fuzz.  Just like my mother used to make us do whenever the Fuller Brush Man came around.  (Those of you under 50, look it up.)

                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.

4 comments:

  1. I'm still learning all the sounds of this beautiful city.....but you sure described it well! Thank you for sharing your insight!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved your description of Mérida if you don't mind I would love to share this on my facebook page.

    😚😚😚😘😘😘

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved your description of Mérida if you don't mind I would love to share this on my facebook page.

    😚😚😚😘😘😘

    ReplyDelete