Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sounds of Repelón

Having spent most of my life living a small, rural town in southeastern Iowa really helped prepare me for my time so far here in Colombia. I am accustomed to having to travel outside of town to get groceries, find entertainment options, and to encounter good restaurants. I'm used to having everyone know your business and in turn, knowing the rest of the town's as well. One thing that I definitely grew used to as well was the peace and quiet. The level of tranquility was off the charts, especially since we live outside of town. The most noise that we ever really hear is every Saturday night during the summer when the sounds of the local stock car races would drift our way from the fair grounds.

Life here in Colombia is pretty much the same, for the most part. Rural living has offered the same small town feel, just with different conditions and surroundings. The people are just as friendly, if not friendlier (didn't think this was possible until coming here). Conversations, normally centering around the unbearable heat, flow freely on the streets and in front of local tiendas. Children run around kicking soccer balls. But there is one thing that I've noticed recently that helps to distinguish this home from my one in Iowa: the sounds.

On any given day, you are bound to hear a mixture of any of the following:

- The animal orchestra, consisting of (but not limited to...)
        * braying of the donkeys as they wonder aimlessly through the streets
        * squealing of the pigs as they are lead through town on leashes
        * baaing of the local goat gang as they patrol the dirt roads and alleyways
        * crowing of the rooster as it daily confuses sunrise with 2 am
        * clucking of the chickens making their way from house to house looking for scraps of food
        * howling of the dogs as they attempt to draw territorial lines
        * mooing of the cows as they meander from finca to finca without a care in the world

- The blaring of the bus horn as it makes its way through town, informing the citizens of its next departure

- The incessant honking and beeping of passing motos, looking for passengers

- The screams of joy of the local children as they run through the streets during rainstorms

- The humming of my elderly neighbor as she sits on her front porch knitting

- The whir of my fan as it works to keep me "cool" and "comfortable"

- The silence of the appliances when the power goes out (which lately has been happening at least once a day)

- The nasally hollers of "aguacate" (avocado) and "bollo de yuca" from the local vendors as they parade up and down the streets trying to make a sale

- The sloshing of the washing machine as it completes its cycle on laundry day

- The chatter of the customers in the cabana enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by my host mom

- The laughter of the neighbor children as they jump through and on a piece of rope tied to the gate of the front patio

- The slamming of dominoes on a plastic table by the random groups of men playing this favorite past time throughout the pubelo

- The siren of the police truck delivering me home after another night of English class

- The raspy breathing of the police chief and myself as we complete our 5 at 5 (5K at 5 am) run

- The pattering of the rain as it cascades from the sky for all of 10 minutes

- The distant roll of thunder, signaling an approaching storm that may or may not actually come

- The cheers and moans of locals while adamantly cheering on the Colombian and other local soccer teams

- The clink of beer bottles as a new round is started on a lazy Saturday afternoon down in the plaza

- The blaring of the picos (large speakers) every Saturday and Sunday night, supplying the pueblo with ample amounts of champeta, vallenato, and salsa music

These sounds have helped shape my experience here in Colombia. They are a part of my daily life and have really become second nature to me. I've found a strange sort of comfort in these sounds. Adjusting back to the peace and quiet of small town Iowa is going to be a challenge...

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