The sounds of San Miguel

By March 29, 2009 Insights

I’m currently living in a little house that faces the Parque Juarez in San Miguel de Allende. This is a beautiful park full of activity where every morning you can find people from all walks of life (so to speak) taking a brisk morning stroll or run, or watching their kids on the jungle gym. And if you want to hear what San Miguel sounds like, this is the place to be.

Beyond the cacophony of birds, kids, and cars, there’s a symphony of sound every day. Since I arrived, every weekday evening around 6-ish, there is marching band practice – trumpets and drums sound off for at least an hour. Around 10 am every other day, the trash truck comes ’round, announced by a guy clanging two pieces of metal together – you can’t miss the sound. In the evenings, the knife sharpener wanders down the street tooting his little pipe whistle.

Somewhere (I haven’t precisely located it yet) someone is blasting their stereo – fortunately they have quite a decent music collection. Saturday mornings at 8:30 is Zumba – group aerobics with about 200 people on the basketball courts – nothing gets you out of bed like heart-thumping disco.

Yesterday evening, a wedding party of about 150 paraded through the parque with giant puppets and the traditional taquila burro (basically a bar on 4 hoofs decorated with flowers). Musicians played and sang in the little band stand.

Beginning at around 4am this morning, the sound of explosions permeated my dreams, then kept me awake all morning. Every 2 minutes, blasting gunpowder (without the sparkle) echoed across the hills as San Miguel marked the beginning of Semana Santo with the parade of El Señor de la Columna from the town of Atononilco to the church of San Juan de Dios in San Miguel. In my predawn sleepy confusion, I only figured out we weren’t being bombed by the lack of emergency sirens.

I love the sounds of San Miguel, but I’m also thankful for earplugs once in a while.