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And the Banda Played On—Noisy Neighbors

And the Banda Played On—Noisy Neighbors

The pink house.  No one is in the park because the music is too loud.

The pink house. No one is in the park because the music is too loud.

There’s always a fly in the ointment.  Ours is a family who moved in the house across the street, painted it pink, and started giving free concerts, morning, noon and night.  “Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh, Soy el lobo domesticadoooooh…”  I want to drip habanero sauce in their eyes, while playing over and over Rosemary Clooney’s “Come on- a My House.”

May 31, 2007

You’ve got to expect loud music in Mexico.  Mariachi, Norteño, Banda—not to mention techno.  This is the land of the fiesta, after all.  Baptisms, weddings, grocery store sales, gas station openings–all call for loud music.

But enough is enough, already.  Occasional loud music in a fiesta is fine.  It’s just part of the package, and even if it keeps us up, hey, it’s a party

What we’ve been going through the past six months is something else.

Neighbors who had been renting moved out, and the owners moved in.  Parents and three kids, one of them an 18 year old boy who doesn’t study, work, or lift a finger around the house.

First they painted the house a sickly pink.

And the music started.  Six or seven hours a day, every day, at full volume.  They are across the street and four doors down, and yet our windows shake, rattle, and roll with the blare.  Silvia and Pablo live right across from the music house, and they have to shout to hear each other.  With the door and windows closed.  Forget watching television.

OK, tons of folks have the same problem.  Loud music is the number one complaint in most neighborhoods.  So what do you do?  Talk to the offenders, explain the situation, and ask them nicely to lower the volume.  If they are decent people they will apologize for any inconvenience and comply.  If not, call the cops.

But this, of course, is Mexico.

Mexicans, and I’m generalizing here but it is a real trend, are “live and let live” kind of folks.  They mind their own business.  Complaining is for the Gringos.  Mind you, we gossip like crazy and talk about everyone on the block, but confrontational we are not.  Rule number one is to smile and keep the peace.  The Aztecs learned that was the best way to handle the Spaniards.  Smile, say yes, and then go and do whatever the heck you want.

So no one wanted to talk to the noisy neighbors.  Instead, children cried.  Families stayed away from home.  And this Gringo seethed.  Still the music screeched, Rosy and her family (we call her Rosy because of her taste in house colors, not to her face) walking in and out like Zombies.  If they would sing or dance or something.  But the music is just THERE, as if to make life miserable.  They aren’t even enjoying it.

The problem came up at our block meeting—several times.  The loud neighbors never attend the meetings, of course, but you can be sure the scuttlebutt got back to them.  We decided to talk with the parents.

But Rosy beat us to it.  She is friends with a couple of the neighbors who suffer just as much as the rest of us but are heavy into the “smile and remain silent routine.”  Rosy made it known that she knew her name came up frequently at meetings.  Now, we thought that Rosy would tell her kid that he has to turn the music down, but no.  In conversations with our neighbors she made it clear that she knew her music was bothering everyone, and that was tough titties.  “What I do in MY house is MY business, and affects no one else.  They can ask me all they want to lower the volume, but I won’t.”  Ah, how some folks can become adults but not grow up.

I suppose by that reasoning she could let a dead rhinoceros rot in her front lawn and the stench wouldn’t affect anyone else.  Thank goodness rhinoceri are uncommon in Tlajomulco.

We talked to the police.  Amazingly, Rosy has all the rights in the world to play her music as loud as she wants, up until 11 PM.  We could report them anonymously, but the police were honest—Rosy could bribe the officer with a dollar and he would tell her who made the complaint.  Then they would scratch the car or spraypaint the house or dig up the garden.

So we grit our teeth.  Not that all the music was all bad.  Some days we had a Queen concert, or the Doors.  Most of the music was Banda, which is quite repetitious, but occasionally they would play baladas, which we really enjoy.  And the concerts usually stopped before 10 pm.  The trouble was, we couldn’t chose the music in our own home.  Or chose not to have music.  And it was every day.

Plus once one family starts playing their music loud, you are going to get others who follow along—either because “no pasa nada” (nobody says anything) or to drown out the noise coming from down the street.

Rosy has been visiting Vero a lot.  Vero’s a nice gal, but real shy.  Finally last week Pinky asked her if she was tired of the music.  “No,” Vero lied, still trying to keep the peace.  “But as soon as you put it on my two babies start crying and they cry all day.  They can’t watch their cartoons.  I get nervous and desperate.  We have to shout at each other to be heard.  But your music is fine!”

Well.  Whether Vero opened Rosy’s eyes or not, the music has finally stopped, at least for now.   I hope Rosy realizes that although her behavior was within the boundaries of the law (which should be changed, and fast), the important part is being a good neighbor.  How did the blaring music go on for six months, when it was obvious it was lowering the quality of life for all the neighbors?  Here they call it “falta de educacion” –“lack of education.”  We would call it rudeness.  Or worse.

You can’t expect to get along with everybody, and we aren’t rushing to make friends with Rosy and her family, even now that the concerts have stopped.  (They still play their music, but at a decent level—we can barely hear it inside the house).  Everyone deserves respect and a decent place to live—especially when we are trying so hard with limited resources to make our environment attractive and healthy.

Thank goodness for the peace and quiet.

Dan and Omar

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.