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The Rich Sounds of Oaxaca: A Primer
Remember your sense of hearing:
While sightseeing in Oaxaca, it’s said that if you don’t look up, you’ll miss a lot (e.g., detailed centuries-old carvings, moldings, photographs, trees growing perpendicularly from the walls, ornately decorated rooftops). Similarly, if you don’t cover your ears, your time in the city won’t be as culturally fulfilling and informative. The following is a sampling of the range of sounds that can be heard from car speakers, truck and motor vehicle horns, steam whistles, stereo systems and live bands, and an explanation of what each means and how to tell them apart.
You don’t have to go to the pueblos to experience the diverse and colorful sounds that will give you more insight into life in Oaxaca. Take a bus or taxi just outside the Centro Histórico, or take a long walk a kilometer or two beyond the Periferico and N. Heroes de Chapultepec. I’m not talking about donkeys, dogs, toads, turkeys, roosters, more exotic birds, and the incessant braying of cows, but about man-made joints. Such sounds advise the inhabitants of the city about vendors of various goods and services, about religious and religious events, or about the presence of ceremonies in the neighborhood.
Vendors engage in daily street brawls, letting us know what fruit is in season and what’s cheap, what sweets the locals love, and how important it is to Oaxacan to have fresh tortillas and other baked goods. The most unusual sound comes from a metal wagon rolling down the street, where the operator sells hot fried plantains, topped with sweetened cream and other toppings… just delicious and generally “safe” food to eat on the street. Usually in the evening, his steamy hisses start in a low tenor and build up to a high pitched shriek… don’t be confused. On the other side of the spectrum, tortilla vendors typically travel the streets of the same neighborhood 2-3 times a day, often in VW Beetles or scooters, announcing to residents with a short honk of their horn. You might hear a bread and pastry truck rolling down the street, with loudspeakers on top, the driver extolling the virtues of bolios and a variety of pot-flavored beverages. When she’s not singing so much, she sings the same songs every day, and her neighbors can learn the specific song of the baked goods they sell. The same pattern that divides the exclamation and recorded sound is fruit trucks and pickup trucks sometimes selling 25, 50, or 100 oranges per bag, or along with other citrus, melons, and piñas. pieces or kilograms, load the scale in the back of the car, and the young partner bags, weighs, and takes cash. When the sound becomes hoarse, The Beatles and Revolver appear. We learn a bit about the culture and the economy … the cost of gasoline, labor, and the amount of profit required compared to the sale of such perishable products; the importance of fresh food for residents; does not have proximity to traditional retail outlets such offers; finally, at least one person can be in the house during the day of such purchase. To accommodate such suppliers, consider what percentage of your neighbors are home during the day. In Oaxaca, where there is an extended family tradition and the responsibility of trusted purchases to young children, this type of marketing approach can be continued.
Different sounds are made to announce the arrival of necessities. It is trite to point out the importance of drinking water. Several times a day, water trucks loaded with 19-liter blue plastic or clear glass bottles patrol every street in every colony, although sometimes economy dictates the use of large tricycles instead of motorized vehicles. The sound one hears is always the same and unmistakable…..agua (¡aah-gwaaah!). Almost every now and then one can’t help but remember the trucks selling propane next to the tank, usually with three sizes to choose from…replace the empty with the filled. No human voice is used here, but perhaps one or more of three familiar cues…the sound of a deep fog, the clang of chains being dragged down the street and/or the lowing of cattle, followed by a hum. jingle Propane is mainly used in homes for furnaces and hot water tanks…no underground oil or natural gas lines…here in Oaxaca it’s enough trouble for the government to just fix the streets and sidewalks and make the tap water we receive a little safer face. from a broken, outdated, and inefficient underground water system—not to mention a complete overhaul of the underground fuel system (although downtown sidewalks and streets were recently dug up to bury the utilities).
Residents prefer to use much larger propane tanks than in the past so that households are not notified of these large single tank propane trucks hitting the streets. Similarly, large water trucks—in addition to drinking, filling domestic cisterns and tinacos—-come by order only, so there is no need to signal their presence. But if you’re downstairs, when the cowbell signals the arrival of the garbage truck, you’re in for another week, unless you find the week’s worth of garbage in the back of your pickup that day, or another. You know the dates and routes nearby.
There are also three types of informational announcements that you can hear regularly. Merchants who don’t sell their wares on the street, such as supermarket chains or pizza franchises that sell large items with two options, have re-emerged to announce sales and discounts to Oaxacans through car speakers. two liters of soda only 100 pesos. The second, and perhaps more important, source of information that residents receive is a public service consisting of local news events. Often, when someone dies in the colony, a truck rolls through the neighborhood’s streets, advising not only of the passing, but of the relevant details, such as mass and burial.
If there are public works that need to be completed within the municipality’s timely resolution mandate, the colony president can arrange for residents to do the work, for example clearing brush. The announcement traditionally includes where and when the project will begin, and calls for people to be ready to work and bring as many shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows as possible. When you hear this type of call, you know there’s a neighborhood organization that sees it as part of the “higher” government’s duty to pick up where they left off, or isn’t willing to wait for the government to prioritize. considered important by residents.
The final type of information you get from the street through your sense of hearing comes from festivals, which attest to the richness and diversity of social life and mark the arrival of important ritual and religious events. In most cases, a portion of the event may take place in a hall, church, or salon, but this festival-oriented society includes at least a portion of the celebration taking place in the street, in the home, or in the local environment as a whole. At any time of the day or night, it’s not unusual to hear music from a sound system or live band reverberating through the neighborhood. It could be a 400-person wedding, a 50th birthday party, or a quince años (an elaborate celebration when a girl turns 15, similar to the Jewish Bat Mitzvah). Depending on the make-up of the crowd, you can hear deafening rap, hip-hop or teen music, or more traditional cumbia tunes, or a DJ mix of modern music in one set. the next live band Latin music. Even the most modest $100 stereo system can be hooked up to an amplifier and monster speakers to deafen a relatively quiet environment. Another type of music that people often hear comes from informal bands that roam the streets as part of religious rituals. Just looking at a book that lists many saints’ days and other ritual days, you might expect to hear band music rolling up and down the streets, fading as the procession winds farther and then getting louder until it’s over. You. Stop and ask what’s going on. If you are offered a small glass of mezcal, drink it and eat whatever is offered during the celebration.
Follow the origins of the music with your ears, take a closer look if you can, no matter how formal or informal the setting…you’ll just be welcomed in and have an experience to tell your folks back home. Your Oaxacan experience will be richer if you just “listen to the music.”
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