Coping With Clamor

While sitting at my latest workstation at the Landing Hotel in Moyogalpa, the first tiny town where the ferry arrives on the island of Ometepe, the notion of chaotic noise popped into my mind, literally.

My original goal for this work session was to find a better theme for my earth drifting endeavor. Instead, the idea of noise pollution has consumed my thoughts. Here in Nicaragua, and this is true in other parts of Latin America, there seems to be no concept of noise being a contaminant.

There’s a reason why my thoughts have been taken over by this concept of clamor.  As I sit here in this comfortable lounge area, I simulteneously hear music coming from speakers near my ears and from the establishment next door.  A Brazilian soccer match cranks from a TV in a private room. Circular saws spin and hammers bang above.  I hear the sound of doors open and closing.   Organic Ometepe coffee brews while cups clank on a counter.  People are sweeping inside and out on the street.  I hear four or five conversations going at once.  The engines of cars and motorbikes roar as they drive by.  I catch the sound of fans ventilatating.  The heavy lake wind howls.  I also detect my favorite of all sounds, exotic birds singing.

Granted, music, people, and animals don’t necessarily produce noise pollution, and during the day, clatter has to be accepted. I’m learning to work amidst it all, as finding silence has been impossible.

Perhaps there would be a better chance of finding quiet if I wanted to shell out a significant amount more for a private room in an opulent hotel. However, so far, I’m figuring out how to function as is.

A much bigger problem, but something I’m also starting to cope with better, is finding a way to get a good night’s sleep. Nobody in this land seems to be concerned about waking or not waking others up.

Latin America seems to be a region of heavy sleepers.

Whether I’ve stayed in a private or a hostel room, I’ve had to endure loud music, sometimes until as late as 2 or 3am.  The noise hasn’t been from my hotel or hostel but next door, even when these juxtaposed establishments have been almost empty. I’ve also had to endure workers doing chores right outside my door as early as 4am.

I’ve yet to see a wall reach as high as the ceiling. Insulation is non-existent. Whether in a hostel or private room, I’m sometimes forced to endure snoring or heavy breathing, early alarm sounds, talking, an occasional drunkard stumbling in, a locker opening and closing, and once, I even heard someone babbling in their sleep.

Just over a month ogo, back when I had a permanent abode, I engaged with my workstation using ambient or meditation music, this being my only form of external sound. Every night, I slept to the same soft Korean meditation music.

I could take a pessimistic stance and dismiss trying to understand these cultural differences; but, this is not an option. I must remain optimistic. I have to focus on the rewards of travel, not the cons. I’m adapting.

I’m getting a bit less sleep than I’d like to and I’m working in the midst of chaos at times. But, I know that enduring these things that I’m not used to is for the best.

Ideally, roaming through Nicaragua is making me a more tolerant, more accommodating, and less uptight person.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I totally I agree, noise pollution can be quite annoying -even back in the US, I would be upset by noisy conversations around me at Starbucks while I was trying to work or read -the solution I found was noise isolating ear buds, they slash down those decibels nicely, so I can listen to music and cut out the noise. Having said that, each culture has its own kind of noise pollution and it can be part of the overall cultural experience. I also dig what you said about becoming more tolerant -learning to enjoy the moment even if things aren’t just so, is a bonus per se.


    • AL: Yeah! Nothing is ever gonna be perfect. I haven’t been able to find a quiet workspace yet, and every place is so different. E.g., the last couple of days in a place near the center of the island of Ometepe, I couldn’t work, way too many people partying. I did find a secluded hammock in the treehouse I was staying where I was able to read on my laptop in the dark while listening to the waves and feeling the wind. It was great. There is hardly any internet worth speaking of over there and no good workstations due to party central. SO: “Isolating ear buds” muy interesante, I’ll have to figure out how to get a pair on my ears. Thanks!


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