We often have international conference calls within the WWF network. You are connected, via Skype or some other calling system, to colleagues in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, etc. More often than not, you cannot for the life of you make out the sounds breaking through on the other end – which frequently sound like someone suddenly smashing their microphone to the ground, or ripping 20 tons of paper as you – on the other end – are trying to discuss the coming year’s budget shortcomings for the projects you planned to complete. There is no one to own up to the sounds, and more likely than not the line with the most disruption does not even realize that such noises are coming through, into the ears and minds of those around the world. I believe the people in the more “developed” country offices must be sitting there wondering WHAT ON EARTH the people of Latin America are really doing while they are trying to hold a conference call.
My boss one day, in trying to explain the situation to me before I embarked on one of these conference calls, explained quite simply and much to my delight that upon being asked to mute her phone she replied, “I cannot control the sounds of my country.” What a perfect way to put it!
We at WWF in Paraguay are based in a house in a suburb of Asuncion, known as Lambare, where on the street life continues, business as usual, without acknowledgment of the people that may live or work there. And why should they, after all, they are living their lives just as we are living ours – conference calls or not. But since I thought the concept of the sounds of one’s country was so intriguing, I will list out of your what I believe to be the sounds of my country – Paraguay, that is…
- Chipa vendors walking through any street with a loud speaker repeating “Chipa” in various tones
- Rusty cars barely making it down a road
- The hooves of horses drawing carriages filled with garbage and other valuable items down unevenly cobble stoned streets
- 30 year old buses gasping and wheezing for enough fuerza (strength) to climb a mild slope
- Chickens or Hens screeching loudly – don’t know where they keep em, don’t really want to know
- Hammering. There is always construction somewhere.
- Motorcycle engines
- Children laughing/screaming/playing in the streets
- Dogs barking. Incessantly.
- Fireworks – any hour of any day for absolutely no reason at all
What are the sounds of your country?