Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Surround Sound - Cuenca EC Style

Ear - Body Part clip artLiving in Cuenca has given us a new appreciation for sounds. I've lived in a variety of cities, big and small, and while some of the sounds are shared, many are quite different.

Here are some examples of the sounds surrounding us in our Cuenca neighborhood, along with a little explanation of why they might be different than those in the US or why they are special to us.
  • Spanish - This had to be first. While we hear Spanish in places in the US, we tend to ignore it. Here, not so much. We enjoy hearing it and seeing how many words we can understand. You do have to "tune" your ear.
  • Weed eaters - Not so strange you say? Well here in Ecuador, weed eaters are used to mow the grass. Not just for yards, but we've passed half a dozen city workers mowing the grass along the river that way. (The other Ecuadorian lawn movers are cows & goats, staked and moved as needed.)
  • Kids laughing - We are so privileged to have a day care center next to our apartment. They are usually outside, weather permitting, for 1-1.5 hrs sometime between ten and noon. We love hearing them laugh and play, rarely a cry heard.
  • Running water - The two main rivers here (and we've lived close to both of them) are swift and loud. We love listening to the water as it comes out of the mountains and down through our neighborhoods.
  • Barking dogs - This is a chronic issue in Ecuador. Dogs here are usually not pets, they are alarms. Some love to bark, some only alert. We have several dogs in our building but we only hear one bark when someone comes to the door, the others are usually quiet. But outside, in our neighborhood we have two German Shepherds. One only alerts when someone nefarious (or smells funny or talks wrong) passes his house. The other is younger and will bark because he's lonely, because it's raining, because...well, who knows. Fortunately this has only impacted one night of sleep - he was new, they weren't home, they hadn't built shelter for him it was raining. But barking dogs are the norm here....
  • Car and building alarms - While we are on nuisances, this is another one that we've had to adjust to here in Cuenca. It seems as though ALL cars come with alarms and NO car alarms are ever adjusted for sensitivity. Thus the alarms go off frequently for no reason. Stu says the best place for a car thief or burglar is in the car with the alarm going off since no one pays any attention to them. The building alarms are less frequent and fortunately in our area, they are turned off pretty quickly.
  • Traffic - When we have windows open (which is usually every night), we hear the buses as they grind gears, squeak their brakes, nail the accelerator, etc. The funniest are the buses with an air brake that sounds similar to a seal barking. I always break (no pun) out in laughter when I hear them. We also have one motorcyclist that LOVES to rev it up as he passes through between 11:30-12:30 each night. Less traffic = more speed.
  • Hummingbirds - Yes, we can hear the hummingbirds. They are quite large here and you can hear their wings flapping as well as their chirping at each other. We love watching them visit our feeder twice a day.
  • Propane delivery trucks - In El Centro, propane is often delivered by someone pushing a cart or riding a bicycle/cart combo. But here the propane tanks are delivered in the back of a truck. Some residents use a regular service and call them when they need a delivery. Others listen for the "honk, honk, honk" of the propane delivery truck in their neighborhood, then run out to flag him down. (Our building has a big tank on top, no propane worries for us.)
  • Honking - Yes, there is honking. The typical stuff in traffic, taxis and busses in particular honk to get traffic moving. But you also hear a quick honk if you are about to step out in front of a car/truck. But the best honk is the quick one by the taxi about to pass you, letting you know he's available if you need him!
  • Fireworks - We love this, fireworks of some sort almost every night. Why? Well, it's someone's birthday or anniversary or new job or engagement or maybe just because it's Tuesday. We have a great view from our apartment and although we often only hear the fireworks, other times we get to enjoy the light show.
  • Police - We have two banks that we can see from our apartment. Both are located on very busy Av. de las Américas. People often can't find parking so the just barely pull off the street onto the sidewalk and run inside. The Transito Police come by in their cars, blip their sirens and announce over their loudspeakers that the cars need to move. Always gives us a giggle - happens several times a day.
  • Serenades - Birthdays, Mother's Day and even Valentine's Day, it's not unusual to see a van pull out and singers or a band spill out to serenade someone. The van often has speakers to make sure EVERYONE in the neighborhood knows someone is being serenaded. Yes, we did have a Mariachi band once...
  • Birds - No, not unusual. Well, except for the fact that there is one bird species that starts chattering around 4am and stops before sunrise, never to be heard again until the next early morning.
Ahhh, the sounds of Cuenca. What are the sounds in your area?

Ciao for now!
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