It’s almost midnight when the garbage truck arrives. It creeps past our house and tears tiles from the overhang above our neighbor’s door. Maria is hanging out of an upstairs window and haranguing the driver. Despite scraping half a dozen tiles off her house the driver is giving as good as he gets. We are in Spain. This is a reminder. Donna and I close the window and laugh.
Spain is not quiet. It doesn’t matter what city you are in. So, you can either enjoy it, or choose to let it get under your skin. There are fireworks at weddings and funerals. There are fireworks for no apparent reason. Church bells ring at all hours. People assure us there’s a pattern, but when all the bells are ringing at once that’s difficult to discern. Dogs bark. Fighting cocks crow. A pleasantly intoxicated person sings a soul song. There’s always a fiesta. Music isn’t played softly. A scene for a teen vampire movie is being shot in Valencia. It requires screaming, and multiple takes. Morning, noon, and night life is punctuated with expressions of exuberance.
In 2016 we stayed in a house in Grenada. During that month we learned to appreciate the sounds of Spain. We slept with a row of French doors open to the night. It was our air conditioning, and given the fairytale views it was romantic. Near the end of our first stay university students were celebrating the end of the term. It was past 3 AM and up in the Albaycin we could hear singing. Some 30 voices joined together and started heading down the hill towards our house.
It wasn’t the singing of tuneless drunks, although sobriety could not be assumed. The sopranos carried the melody, and everyone else sang along or harmonized at will. It took 15 minutes for the singers to pass by our house, and another 15 to fade away. At 5 AM the baby next door started wailing. Dogs joined in. Two workers waiting for a ride right below our terrace shared the weekend’s gossip. Roosters crowed, doves cooed, someone’s donkey brayed, bells rang. The sun peeked over the hill. We sat up in bed and soaked it all in. When all the things that should bother you don’t, you have probably fallen in love.
The garbage truck stops a little closer to our house in Oliva these days. Someone hops out in order to fetch the dumpster. They roll it two blocks down to the truck. Then they roll it back again. A dumpster is louder when it’s empty and it’s creeping up to midnight. It makes a surprisingly happy sound. It’s right up there with an intoxicated version of an old soul song. As for the hordes of screaming horror film teens in Valencia??? I think they should have quit after the 35th take. It was perfect.