Noise, Too Much Noise

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Havana's Neptuno St. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, March 21 — After living in Old Havana for 14 years, specifically in the Jesus Maria neighborhood, I’ve gotten to know some of the features that distinguish it and many of the problems that deeply affect it.

This is what I’m bringing before you today – the issue of NOISE.

Living in a building with 49 apartments separated by very narrow hallways, I’ve had to constantly suffer:

– Iron gates banging open and shut at any time of the day or night.

– Wooden doors being slammed shut with people’s full might.

– Children playing in the common areas.

– Neighbors near my bedroom window engaged in tedious conversations about the telenovela of the moment.

– All types of music blaring in unison at full volume.

– The sound of the Havana Water Department alarm — located in the basement of my building that goes off endlessly whenever the building is being fumigated against the Aedes aegypti mosquitos.

– Mothers scolding their children with shouts and insults.

– The neighbor who yells to announce to everybody the availability of some product at the local butcher shop.

Meanwhile, along centrally located Monte Street, where the front door of my “pleasant” home can be found, the cars horns, street vendor cries and people creating problems on the street with their ruckus and rumpus also “contribute” to my inner discomfort.

Likewise, at the backdoor of my house is a makeshift carpentry shop, the neighborhood cultural center and a tenement where they’re always partying. All of this winds up “energizing” the only place that’s even halfway intimate: my bedroom, which I share with my sister.

When I visit my grandparents’ house out in Melena del Sur, in a small village, I can’t help but to become filled with awe over the silence. Tranquility and peace fill every nook and cranny out there.

It’s amazing how people here in more urbanized areas such as in Old Havana have become so accustomed to shouting rather than talking…to imposing instead of proposing.

I’ve never gotten used to the noise. I don’t think I ever will.