Surrounded by Sound

Pictures just don’t do Nicaragua justice.  Instead, I wish I had a recorder with me so I could share the sounds of life in Nicaragua.  If I did, then right now, you’d hear the whirring of the abanica as it keeps the heat away, a knife chopping as the amazing ladies here at Pure cook up some almuerza, and the sound of many birds singing their songs.  On any given day, you’d hear vendors calling out their wares in Spanish.

“Queso, queso, queso,” calls one man who I saw a few times this weekend.  “You want cheese?” he asks me, en ingles.  “

“No, no gracias,” I reply.

“You want doodie?”

“What?”  (Doodie!  Is he playing with me?)

“Cookies!  You want cookies?”

Ah, entiendo…”No, no gracias!”

We had this exchange a few times on Saturday, as we both made our way through the streets and markets of Granada.

You’d hear loudspeakers attached to cars offering up political messages, advertisements, or information on somebody recently passed, different strains of Spanish music played loudly from passing cars or from houses with wide open doors, and animated conversations between locals crouched on sidewalks in the 15 inches of shade, staying cool and passing time on hot days.

En la noche, you’d hear songs from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing —  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Hungry Eyes in Spanish and in English — nineties alt-rock plays around the clock at the Irish Bar on La Calzada, and a large screen is set up most weekends in the street to broadcast a boxing fight or assist in karaoke where the singers often choose spanish songs with syrupy-romantic lyrics.

Last night, as I sat with friends enjoying some rum punch in the street, we were approached by a man who made his living singing songs at restaurants and for the touristas.  He serenaded the group with at least 10 different romantic spanish songs, sung a capela and with as much heart as Ricky Martin ever had.  During this serenade, an accordian player walked up who also wanted to share his music, but didn’t have much of a voice for singing because of he had the grippe.  No pasanado!  Others knew the lyrics too, and the music continued, joyous and loud.

Life here is lived out in the open.  People interact with each other day by day, minute by minute, and there’s a constant soundtrack that goes with the interaction.  Silence is not something easily come by in Nicaragua.

Lucky for me, I came to peace with limited silence before I left the States  in my yoga and meditation practices.  Early on in my practice, I used to find myself easily irritated by any sound or interruption.  In the last year, though, I came to appreciate those interruptions as reminders to reconnect with both breath and Spirit and opportunities to cultivate Pratyahara.  Now that I’m surrounded by this river of sound that begins long before I wake and continues into the wee hours of night, I find myself feeling grateful for already having cultivated the ability to withdraw my senses from the world around me and drop like a boulder into the river of my own breath, into the deepness within.

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