• Feb

    How to Deal with Noise in Mexico


    There are several things you need to know if you want to come to Mexico for a holiday or for a longer period of time. One of these issues is noise. Mexico is one of the noisiest countries in the world, so if you have a sensitive constitution and do not or cannot tolerate loud noises, Mexico might not be the place for you.

    Noise comes in many forms: from vehicles, machinery, roosters, dogs, cats, parties and music. One thing you’ll quickly discover is that Mexicans love their music and they like it LOUD, really loud at times. I’ve been in situations, like Carnaval last night where the bass boom was so heavy that it literally shook the ground under our feet and I could feel my clothing pulsating with the beat.

    Small wonder that many Mexicans have hearing trouble by the time they’re in their 30’s. To make matters worse for the workers, hearing aid protection doesn’t seem to be enforced. Recently, I saw I guy operating a jackhammer and he wasn’t wearing any hearing protection at all. Stuff like that makes me shudder, but I’m getting a bit off-topic here.

    One surefire way to avoid noise if you value your sleep (and privacy) is to stay in a gated community (not a hotel, especially not an all-inclusive, since these outfits frequently have loud stage shows). Another option is to stay in locations outside of the cities, where there are few people and it tends to be really quiet.

    I did that a couple of years ago on a trip to the Riviera Maya. We wound up in a gated complex about a 10 minute drive from the nearby towns. It was very peaceful and quiet.

    In the towns and cities though, that’s another story. It can get pretty loud there. As a case in point, one of the places I’ve stayed is Bucerias, a small town about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. Depending on where you are, the noise can be pretty bad.

    In addition, Bucerias is bisected by a large 4 lane highway, so if you’re anywhere near that, expect noise, especially from trucks. One of the things they do is "jake braking," where the exhaust is rerouted back into the engine to slow the vehicle down.

    It works, but the truck makes a really loud, "BLAP, BLAP, BLAP" sound that will shake your building (not to mention you) if you’re anywhere close to it. Apparently it’s been outlawed, but it still goes on.

    Next, we get to other noises, such as mechanical or industrial. Not much you can do about that if you’re walking the streets in the city, except to try to minimize your exposure to it, if you can.

    Finally, I’m going to talk about the worst type of noise, which occurs in residential areas. Back to my Bucerias example. On some nights, the local band would start to play – at 9:00pm (about 6 blocks away on the other side of the highway) and the music would go on until 3:00am.

    And it was LOUD!

    All the ingredients for a sleepless night. You can close your windows, but windows here tend to be single pane and they won’t help much. Also, if your room it hot, it will get stifling quickly.

    Here’s my solution. Get yourself a device that creates white noise. In my case, I had an old fan with a bent blade. I put the fan by my bed and turned it up until the noise of the fan more or less matched the sound level of the band.

    Then I was able to sleep. At 3:00am the band quit playing. I woke up, turned off the fan and slept the rest of the night.

    Other noises aren’t so easy to deal with. One of these are crowing roosters. First off, let me dispel the myth of roosters crowing at dawn. What a load of tripe! In reality, roosters crow at any hour of the day or night – including 2:00am.

    To make matters worse, one starts crowing, then others, hearing the sound, start crowing as well, then you have a cacophony of the buggers crowing all over town. Small wonder so many residents are bleary-eyed in the morning.

    It’s even worse if you’re the unlucky recipient of a rooster that’s camped out on your doorstep. That happened to a friend of mine. She had a rooster below her apartment that drove her crazy at night. Looking for a solution, she bought a slingshot at the local market.

    Next she tried target practice with frozen peas, but that didn’t work too well, so she graduated to small rocks.

    When she fired one at the rooster, there was a loud squawking and a huge cloud of feathers. The bird took off in the direction of the arroyo in Bucerias. There, it met up with another rooster. Big fight.

    Guess who came back?

    My friend, undaunted, shot him again. That did it. The rooster took off, never came back and my friend was able to get a decent sleep.

    Last night, we were treated to a cat’s concert. Man, it seemed like the yowling would go on forever. Thank God it was several blocks away.

    Now we come to the worst noisemaker – dogs. In my experience, absolutely nothing will blot out that sound, not even earplugs.

    Dogs have the uncanny ability to make themselves heard over virtually anything. In one case where I lived, we discussed using "the magic meatball" to deal with the issue, but none of us could bring ourselves to do it.

    If you have a noise problem with dogs, my best advice is to move. It sucks, but I can’t think of a better solution. It’s not worth it to hang around and try to fight it. You could make the situation worse, as I found out the hard way. You either find a way to adapt or move on. That’s my best advice to you.

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