Friday, September 06, 2019

the sound of music

Some things are just not what they seem.

Take that photograph. It looks as if one of Manzanillo's exclusive peninsulas has been transported to Kansas. But it hasn't.

After waiting for months for the rainy season to start here, our patience was rewarded with one of those rainstorms that always make for good essays. The architect who designed my house created a very efficient drain system. Most rain water disappears from my patio as fast as it falls.

Not on Wednesday. Even though the drains were free of debris, the water in my patio was ankle-deep while the rain was falling. When I opened the front door, I could see why. My street was a river. There was simply no place for the patio water to go.

Once it stopped raining, though, the water disappeared -- just as promised.

The storm itself was one of our usual summer shows in the tropics. Along with the rain came wind, thunder, and lightning. The lightning was muted by the daylight, but it was there.

We also had an added feature -- a waterspout. A non-tornadic waterspout, to be more accurate. What Mexicans call culebra de mar (water snake). Not here, but in Manzanillo. 25 miles to the southeast.

That is a photograph of it at the top of this essay. Even though it looks like a tornado over land, it is merely a waterspout in Santiago Bay.

I suspect it may be because people's storm angst has been heightened by Dorian or the fear that anything that looks like a tornado elicits, but a lot of winter visitors posted on our local Facebook pages that they were concerned a "tornado" may have caused damage in Melaque or Barra de Navidad.

It hadn't, of course. It was too far away. And even if it had occurred in our bay, it was a waterspout. They can cause some havoc for sailboats, but waterspouts die when they touch land. At least, that type does.

But, it is nice to know that people care about our well-being down here.

Speaking of well-being. I got up early this morning to do a little writing. I just have not felt like sitting down at the computer this week. So, I brewed up a pot of mint tea and sat on the patio enjoying the morning.

I have always been amazed at how quickly we accommodate to our surroundings. Unless, I listen very carefully, I do not hear the dogs barking, the cocks crowing, the birds threatening each other with what we think is birdsong solely for our enjoyment, the religious skyrockets, or the motorcycles and buses whirring by on our main street.

Usually, I do not hear the constant sound of music in our neighborhood. It is just part of the usual background noise. This morning I could hear the regular daily sources: the guy two blocks away who plays rock music loud enough that I can hear the fingering on the guitars, and the older woman next door who plays her ranchera music with a bit less volume.

What is missing is the source that is usually the loudest -- the young man who likes the music from his truck loud enough to distort it to the point it could be industrial machinery malfunctioning. But his truck stands silent because he is away for a prescribed time period.

The only reason I was listening to all of the music was that there is a new source from across the street. The young mother who lives there likes her American popular music loud, but not distorted. Because my house is built like a guitar soundboard, it collects all of the music in the neighborhood and amplifies it. It does the same in reverse when I am in a mood to analyze music.

This is one aspect of living in Mexico that still amazes me. I understand playing music at a high volume. I am wont to do that myself (even though I am always concerned that it will bother my neighbors). But some Mexicans seem not to mind that their music is being distorted by their speakers because their equipment is not up to the job they demand of it.

And that brings me back to my main point. Within a week, I will most likely not even notice the music coming from across the street -- just as I have sublimated the other sources into tranquility.

I had lunch the other day with some acquaintances who have been coming to Mexico for years. Most of the conversation centered around things that annoyed them about Mexico. When I asked if there was nothing they liked about the country, the wife responded: "No. We love it. That is why we come here every year."

Maybe humans are just attuned to grousing. I suppose that is why the exchange in Gosford Park between Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith is so funny upon arriving at the manor house ("Did you have a horrid journey?" "Yes, fairly horrid.")

Whatever it is, I am glad our compatriots to the north worry about us when faced by waterspouts and rising patio waters. Concern trumps annoyance.

But that is not why we live in Mexico. We live here because even what seems as if they should be annoyances are part of the tapestry that adds color to a life we could not lead elsewhere.

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