Where to begin? Della looks through the images on the blog and says "Mom, those are good pictures, but they don't really capture the chaos of things. For a ten year old, she's fairly astute. I wrote here about the morning wake up call. What I have come to learn is that this is the absolute norm around here. This place operates at top volume 24/7. Layer upon layer of sound. And I am down with it. HOWEVER.
HOWEVER. Gallo means rooster. And it's the freaking national bird. Not really, of course, The elusive Quetzal is the REAL national bird, but the designation should be reassigned. Gallo also happens to be the national beer, something akin to our Budweiser, and is made here in Xela. There's more to that, too, but let's stick with birds for now. The gallo, in it's many forms, is muy popular.
Our apartment is typical of any home here. We are crowded into a city block, cheek to jowl with our neighbors. There is no such thing as insulation or double paned windows. Our roof is a sheet of very thin plastic. And as you're probably aware, sound carries.
The image above is the view out our bedroom window. They are a big family. I love their poinsettia tree. And I'm sure that they're nice folks. But they raise roosters.
I'm not sure why one would raise roosters. Before bed, our first night here, Della asked about roosters and when they crow. I was imagining a bucolic farm setting with a patriarchal rooster somewhere IN THE DISTANCE. I said something poetic like "Oh, roosters are the herald of the morning; they might wake us up early."
Truer words have never been spoken.
We go to bed early. 9 ish. At 10:00 it started. They might as well have been in bed with us. The crowing alarm sounded every 20 seconds throughout the night. It's not a noise that you can acclimate to. Each and every time it jars your heart and makes you sweat
I would lie there and anticipate the next crow, then jump when it sounded. Six hours later, there was no change. I thought surely their throats must be raw and irritated, wouldn't they have to stop at some point? I'm an easy going person., but this was not working for me. I was feeling violent. I was identifying well with the term "ring your neck". But in the end, because sleep is non-negotiable and this was our new, if temporary, home I began to ponder solutions. How to silence these feathered evangelists of the night?
As I lay there, I began to hatch a plan….or at least, several viable options. Perhaps we could move our bed into the living room and the living room into the bedroom. It would be a bit of a pain, but if we closed the door to the bedroom we could create a decent sound barrier. Or, and this is where I got excited, I could make my way around the block, knock on these people’s door and offer them cold hard cash for the gallos. How much could a few Guatemalan birds cost? It could, quite possibly, be the best $10-$12 dollars ever spent. To recoup some of my money I could march right down to the parque central and sell the dang things, just like every body else in town does. This begged the question, …. how to carry several roosters several blocks? I don’t much care for pecking fowl. I especially don’t like their legs. The biggest hitch in the plan was transporting the birds, and then it hit me. This just might work. I could kill several birds with one stone, so to speak.
Negotiating with a native would require me to up my language game. AND it would be necessary to include a non-compete clause,: no more roosters for the next 30 days. My language skills would be tested and this is good.
I would also need to work on my haggling skills. I hate to haggle over prices and it’s a way of life around here. I make Della do it for me. Seriously. She is a shark. This would force me to engage in some serious negotiating.
And maybe, just maybe, after I stuffed three live roosters into my sleek backpack and schlepped them down a shabby scenic cobblestone street to a colorful Central American town square, I’d fulfill another odd goal of mine…to make the cover of the Patagonia catalog.
These roosters are my destiny.
Hasta Mañana, Amigos!