Brazil: Where Sounds Abound


(Mourning Dove, Wikipedia)

In the US, one sound that always got to me was that of the Mourning Dove. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) puts the threat level of this member of the dove family as LC, or least concern, meaning it’s everywhere and rightly so, since it is known for its prolific breeding habits. So no matter where I moved around the US, their owl-like sound followed me, haunted me, even. After several years, I finally learned to drown it out…for the most part. That skill eventually helped me cope with the sounds of urban Brazil.

Anyone who has visited Brazil has an idea of the noises that accompany one throughout their day. In the parks, there are monkeys, birds and other interesting sounds. In the streets, there are endless people, cars and construction. Go anywhere at any time and you will not find silence…unless you are asleep. If you are okay with that, or if you think you can succeed in finding the right sounds for the level of peace (or noise) you need, then Brazil is a good option for you.

I’d like to list some of the sounds I hear during my days and nights.

The Burping Dog – For weeks, I thought this was a neighbor with stomach problems and I was getting ready to throw some antacids at him. Around twice a day, a neighbor’s dog “barks” for about an hour. When I say “barks”, I mean burps. Perhaps it’s not technically a burp but it sure sounds like one. Strangely, after learning it wasn’t a human, it stopped bothering me.

The Mourning Dove’s Cousin (twice removed) – One month in, I began hearing an ambulance siren-like song from outside the window. It was obviously that of a bird but everytime I looked, I couldn’t spot the bird. The best I can explain it is that a mourning dove mated with a parrot who lived near a hospital.

The Gas Man – What seems like a few times per day, the person who delivers fuel for the stove/oven drives by and plays his company’s jingle, “A Minasgás chegou” (“Minasgás arrived”) via loudspeakers. This is followed by him lowering the volume and yelling a signature, “hey!”, at which time the process repeats.

The Keyless Kid – The teenage son of someone who lives in my apartment complex either always forgets his key or just doesn’t have one. Anytime he wants to enter the second security gate, he yells “mãe!” (often followed by the very Brazilian, “mãe-eh” when one is annoyed at their mother) until she opens the gate. Most of the time, she doesn’t, so I’ve been clicking the gate button for him.

Barks & Crows – Every single night, there’s a chorus of dogs barking and roosters crowing in the distance. I like to imagine that the dogs are chasing the roosters.

Fans Unite – Anytime there is a soccer match on TV with either one or two popular teams, each foul play or great goal is shouted from the window of each fan’s apartment. Most of the time it is just the name of the team that is shouted, but once in a while it’s to curse the mothers of the fans of the other team.

I’m perfectly sure that what might be deemed good or bad sounds are commonplace in any country and change depending on who is hearing them or where they are hearing them. Positively-speaking, sounds just mean that life is happening and that everything is, in all actuality, relative.

What about you? What sounds do you remember from your time in Brazil?

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3 thoughts on “Brazil: Where Sounds Abound

  1. As I’ve lived in Brazil since I was born, many of these sounds are very familiar to me. But I have to tell you a sound that was very common every Sunday morning, about 20 years ago or so: a guy passing by the street, selling newspapers, and yelling really loudly, at 7 or 8 a.m. every Sunday morning: “olha eu, o correeeeeioooo!” (look at me, the newspaper guy). Nowadays, I listen to a variety of birds singing all day long, either at work and at my parent’s house (which I really appreciate). As I live in an apartment, and it’s surrounded by construction sites, I listen to construction noises in my apartment sometimes. And at work… well, as I work in a police academy, it is pretty common to listen to some shoots and bombs – which I’m already accostumed.

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