One thing I really miss about home is…

TURN OFF THE &#$&^% PAGODE!!! Image source

…silence. It is never quiet where I live.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been struggling to make the audio recordings for Espresso English. We’re not talking 30-minute monologues here – just 90-second clips. I don’t even need a continuous period of silence, just various fifteen-second bursts so that I can record each sentence.

And at most times of the day this is not possible. Not five seconds – FIVE SECONDS!!! – goes by before:

  • Dogs bark
  • Cars honk
  • Some guy keeps randomly revving his motorcycle outside
  • The gas truck passes
  • A low-flying plane passes
  • A car alarm goes off
  • A man sits on the steps of the hotel across the street and starts hammering a piece of wood
  • People yell in the street
  • Random daytime fireworks go off
  • The popsicle-seller walks by yelling “PICOLE! COCO, AMENDOIM, MANGABA, PICOLE!!!”
  • The construction workers in the houses behind ours start drilling
  • An argument breaks out in the bar on the corner
  • Somebody parks their car down the block with its speakers blasting

…and at that point I have to give up for the day.

How have I gotten the existing audio recordings done, you ask? By doing them sometime between 1:00 AM and 6:00 AM. Unfortunately, as soon as the sun rises there’s a rooster somewhere in the neighborhood that insists on making his presence known. (WHY is there is a rooster in the heart of a city of 3.5 million people???)

As I write this, I’m trapped between two sound sources – someone’s crappy pagode music out back, and a show in the lower city that’s a quarter-mile away and 16 stories down, from which I can hear the constantly booming music. That’s in addition to the cars passing, doors slamming, people on the street having conversations with a friend leaning out of a second-story window, and noise from a nearby restaurant.

It’s been nearly 13 months since I’ve had 10 consecutive seconds of silence during waking hours, and now that I’m aware of it, it’s starting to bug me. What I wouldn’t give for a weekend at my parents’ suburban house on a dead-end street! In Brazil, there are no suburbs. There is city, favela, and farm. Oh, and those closed condominium complexes, which are bubbles of wealthy isolation in the midst of the urban jungle.

Mom, can I get a pack of these in the next care package?  :-/