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Costa Rica Cacophony

By Edited May 13, 2014 0 0

Wake Up and Go To Sleep!

Loud doesn't do it justice.

The paperboy woke me up this morning, or maybe it was the security guard; they have both been guilty, on numerous occasions, of wrenching me from the jaws of slumber.  The paperboy, like a lot of people here, rides a motorcycle.  There are thousands of motorbikes in this city but only about 14 mufflers to go around, so the keening whine of 2-stroke engines buzzing at maximum rpm's is a common sound.  The problem with the paperboy is that he cannot seem to completely service the street behind my bedroom in one pass.  No, he makes multiple runs to get the job done.  Why is this, I ask myself?  Like many other curiosities here, it is a pointless question, an enigma wrapped in a riddle shrouded by mystery. 

The security guard is another story.  He's a nice man; I speak to him when I pass, and he's always friendly but he has a whistle, see, and he likes to use it.... at 5 o'clock in the morning.  At least I know why he does this; he wants to alert the homeowners whose properties he guards that he is on the job.  Of course he also alerts all the folks living on this side of the apartment complex that he's on the job as well even though, technically speaking, he's not here to guard us.  Oddly enough, I do feel comforted by his presence even though he doesn't look intimidating enough to frighten the determined criminal.  His presence, combined with the iron fence topped with high-voltage wires, and two locked gates does give me comfort but mainly it's the gates, fence, and wiring.

These are just two in the panoply of sounds that you might hear at any given time.  You hear them during the day as well but the most mysterious ones only occur at night.  This morning, before the paperboy, before the security guard, I heard another one of those very mysterious, unclassifiable noises that occur on occasion.  This one made me think of someone, possibly a giant, shaking out a large panel of sheet metal just like you would do with the sheets on your bed.  I don't know why I didn't get up to check this out, especially after the second, quieter episode or the almost imperceptible final one.  I guess I'll chalk up my inaction to laziness, and fear.  There are times when you just don't want to know.

Occasionally in the evenings there are motorcycle races out on the main highway near here, and these can go on seemingly for hours.  They occur late at night, usually on Sundays, a din of un-muffled sound roaring through the darkness. It reminds me, in my more creative moments, of a Latin American Springsteen tableau, except this isn't in some hidden part of Jersey; this is on a major thoroughfare.  An obvious question comes to mind.   Where are the police?  I don't know but I suspect that they are nearby, probably wagering on the outcome if the proclivities of the locals are any indication.

Those are just a few of the varied noises that make up the frequently raucous soundscape here, and this doesn't even include downtown.  It gets more human there with the vendors urging you to inspect their wares: lottery tickets, fruit, socks, watches, cigars, Viagra, Valium, sunglasses, flowers, and little remote-controlled dogs that turn flips.  There is one locus of silence here, one mathematical point at the center of the wheel that does not turn, and you see him every Saturday in the park.  I don't know his name because he won't tell me.  He's a mime.



San José Costa Rica Street Scene

You looking at me?
Credit: David Kendall

The center of silence

Me and Mime
Credit: David Kendall


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