Culture

What The Hell Was That, Sounds Of Mexico City Edition

omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Cities are notoriously noisy chaotic places. They’re filled with the soundtrack of people going about their daily lives, pets jockeying for attention, the sounds of commerce and industry…now imagine these sounds in a Mexican city of more than 20 million people.

Welcome to Mexico City.

All cities are noisy. But Mexico City takes it to another decibel. The capital is full of sounds that could be rich, beautiful, and also as annoying AF. After all, it’s the most populous city in North America — and quite likely the loudest.

Here are some of the most Mexican sounds of CDMX:

Some sounds have become iconic, such as the voice blasted from the recycling trucks that slowly circle the city, seeking mattresses, appliances, and other household items too bulky for the garbage truck. The truck drivers used to signal their presence themselves via loudspeakers until one of them thought to record his daughter making the announcement.

The recording spread and is now heard across the country and in some Mexican immigrant neighborhoods in the United States. The young girl’s whiny plea for “colchones, tambores, refrigeradores” was even remixed into an electronic dance song that has become a hit at parties.

Even the way Chilangos (people from CDMX) take out their trash is noisy AF.

Take the high-pitched hand bell that rings incessantly each day, signaling that the garbage truck has arrived in the neighborhood and it’s time to haul out the trash. In many Mexico City neighborhoods, this is the most common daily sound – so common, many use it as their daily alarm clock because the guys are so punctual. They arrive on your street with the clanging of a cowbell and possibly some yelling and it’s your responsibility to get your garbage out to them before they haul off.

And natural gas…now that’s a scream I won’t soon forget.

There is the guttural cry of “gaaaaasssss” from the man who sells canisters of fuel. Most buildings in Mexico City don’t have a pipe connection to a central gas line so we all have gas tanks on our rooftops (super safe, I know!) Thankfully, guys come in their trucks often enough with the downright eerily scream of “gaaaaaaaaass” to sell you refills for your gas tanks.

Or the flute whistle of the knife sharpener, passing with his pushcart.

You’ll hear him before you see him and you’ll need to gritar down at him to get him to stop. But are you sure that’s the knifeman and not a cute sounding bird?

There’s the deafening steam scream of the camote man.

The blood-curdling loud hiss that announces the arrival of the camote man, who sells hot sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with condensed milk, is many people’s favorite sound to hate.

He doesn’t yell words at you. His pushcart literally screams and hisses at you. Loudly. For elongated periods of time. To the point where you flinch and cover your ears if you’re too close because he must have blown both of his at a cumbia concert. His cart is decked out with a wood-burning stove that generates the steam to cook some of the best tasting roasted sweet potatoes and bananas you’ll ever have. And they come covered in la lechera with a side of “omg my poor ears!”

And the borderline creepy organilleros.

Think of a jack-in-the-box. The one old-school kids used to crank and could never quite tell when a frighteningly happy clown on a spring would pop out. Remember that tune? The creepy music that was meant to be cheerful, but was always put into a minor key and inserted into scary movie trailers? The organillero is a real-life version of all of this.

It didn’t always use to be, though. Back in the 1890s, when it first made its appearance in the city, men would play charming melodies, even accompanied by monkeys at times, as people strolled along on a Sunday afternoon, requesting popular tunes (since radio didn’t exist yet) and tipping an extra ten pesos into the hat of the monkey.

Nowadays? Not so much. Doing some research, it appears that the instruments are easily damaged due to rain. And with the abundant amount of rain that this city sees, it’s no wonder that almost everyone you hear is out of tune. Most of the people still cranking them can’t afford to fix them and have no other way to make money. Though annoying, it is pretty sad. The next time you’re in a plaza or a hear one in the street, think of the 75-pound instrument on their back (yeah, these things are heavy) and consider having some sympathy.

Plus, there’s a constant reminder to buy tamales.

Any man who knows me knows that food is a pretty easy way to win me over. (Buy me a wheel of cheese over flowers any day.) So naturally, you’d think the tamale man would have a masa-wrapped key to my heart. Right?

Wrong. I’ve never slept with the tamale man, but he’s woken me up at least three times a week since I’ve lived here. He’s also constantly outside blasting his recording a la Say Anything.

Another automated recording, the tamales Oaxaquenos sellers pedal through Mexico City’s streets starting at dusk and long into the night selling warm Oaxacan tamales wrapped in sweating banana leaves and hot atole from giant Gatorade coolers. Mostly young men, the tamal guys always seem a little lonely to me as they pedal through the streets to this nasal theme song.

And we can’t forget how much Chilangos love honking their car horns.

This is the worst one. A city of more than 20 million people means way too many cars for one place, and with a traffic system worse than any Hot Wheels track I built as a kid, people have no idea what else to do besides honk. All. The. Time. And always for longer than just a few seconds. They also just love mimicking a honk when someone else does it.

Beyond those sounds, Mexico City is also characterized by the constant hum of music — the cumbias that thump from taxis, the street performers strumming acoustic covers of 1970s rock and the mariachis roaming the streets, looking for the next table of sentimental drunks to serenade. It can cause conflict — after all, not every person wants to hear the reggaeton hit “Despacito” played on repeat at the store beneath their apartment.

Chilangos are sometimes said to sing their Spanish.

Unlike in the Caribbean, where Spanish is spoken in rapid fire and the ends of phrases are sometimes skipped altogether, words here are lovingly drawn out, the vowels accentuated, each sentence teeming with life.

The city sings too. Unless you’re in a rotten mood, in which case it sometimes seems to scream.

Some People Are Blaming The Actions Of The Women At Mexico City’s March For The Attack On A Reporter

Things That Matter

Some People Are Blaming The Actions Of The Women At Mexico City’s March For The Attack On A Reporter

@adn40 / Twitter

Hundreds of women in Mexico took to the streets to demand justice after two teenage girls reported being raped by police officers. The protests filled Mexico City and women were not going to silent as they demanded justice. One reporter covering the protest was attacked on camera and the blame game is in full force as people try to find out who started it.

ADN40 reporter Juan Manuel Jiménez was covering the anti-rape protest in Mexico City when he was attacked by a random man.

Credit: @adn40 / Twitter

The video shows Jiménez reporting from the protest as protest participants threw glitter and other items at the reporter. The entire time, Jiménez mentioned that the women were angry at the injustice women face against Mexican police. When he mentioned going to another location to continue his reporting, that’s when a man walked behind in and sucker-punched him.

The man had spent time standing next to the reporter and was caught on camera, despite him trying to hide his face later.

Credit: @v_altamirano / Twitter

“This idiot el the coward,” tweeted @v_altamirano. “@juanmapregunta I hope they find him @SSP_CDMA @PGFJD_CDMX have his FIRST and LAST name.”

The man was seen standing near the reporter for some time as Jiménez was talking to the camera. Then, he retreated into the crowd and started talking to two people that were marching. After speaking with the two people, the attacker made his way back to the reporter and attacked him from behind.

The footage has angered people who are tired of the violence in Mexico and see the attack as lessening the protest.

Credit: dianamoon0506 / Twitter

“I am a mother, sister, and daughter and I do not approve this display, NO TO VIOLENCE,” tweeted @dianamoon0506. “The women started the violence. We will never advance humanity like this. All of my support to @juanmapregunta.”

Some women said the feminists marching defended the reporter and that it was a random man who attacked Jiménez.

Credit: @mickeydobbss / Twitter

After Jiménez was knocked to the ground, the video shows women cornering the attacker and attempting to detain the man. The man pushed the women off and ran into the crowd to get away from those pursuing him.

A lot of people are blaming the women who first started to attack Jiménez for creating the atmosphere.

Credit: @Omar_ca_P / Twitter

“They didn’t defend anyone, those who did ‘attack’ the aggressor and scream ‘it was him’ because they knew that this kind of thing damages their image and they want to distance themselves from blame,” tweeted @Omar_ca_P. “They too attacked the reporter, not with punches but they attacked.”

Another video posted showed some of the protesters stopping to care for Jiménez after he was knocked to the ground.

The people caring for Jiménez helped him wake up and are shown in the video caring for him. This all happened after he was knocked to the ground and the attacker ran away.

You can watch the full video below.

What do you think about the attack and the blame game happening with the march?

READ: Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

Fierce

Hundreds Protest After Teen Girls Accuse Mexico City Police of Rape

Warning: This story is contains accounts of sexual assault, and can be disturbing to some of our readers.

Two weeks ago, four police officers were accused of raping a 17-year-old-girl in their patrol car. Two days later, another officer was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a museum. Friday night, protesters took to Mexico City streets armed with pink glitter and spray paint to demand justice for the teenagers, and all femicide victims in Mexico. The next day, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s first female mayor, announced the suspension of six police officers implicated in the first case. The officer on patrol at the museum has been arrested.

Still, after nearly a century of living under a police force that women are taught to fear, the women who started the #NoMeCuidanMeViolan (“They don’t take care of me, they rape me”) movement are demanding a declaration of a gender alert in the capital, and tangible action to end femicide.

An estimated 300 women flooded Mexico City streets, and even covered Mexico City’s Secretary in pink glitter.

@rosepetalflufff / Twitter

One officer had been arrested on the grounds of rape the day before the protest, but the four who allegedly gang raped a minor in their patrol car were still active duty on the force at the time of Friday night’s protests.

Signs from the protest ranged from, “My friends protect me, not the police,” to “Sailor Moon taught me that you can kill monsters with glitter.”

The women ended the march at the Angel monument, where they raised their held hands up high.

@AndreaMireille / Twitter

The Angel monument celebrates the independence of Mexico from Spain, and is the chosen setting for quinceañera photo shoots, and town celebrations. The monument is a symbol of justice and freedom.

The protesters didn’t feel heard by the government, so they made sure the public hears them.

@BirbFree / Twitter

The base of the Angel monument was covered in “Kill the Patriarchy” and “Rape State” phrases, along with a pink feminist symbol on the culo of the lion. By morning, city workers had already begun power washing and repainting the base, now barricaded from view by a wooden wall.

A spokesperson for the National Fine Arts Institute said they were assessing the damage, and that the institute “respects freedom of speech and offers support for actions to eradicate all forms of violence against women.”

Police body-barricaded the doors of their station after protesters spray painted “RAPISTS” on its windows.

@gringatears / Twitter

In a statement, Mayor Sheinbaum said she perceived the protest as a “provocation.” Sheinbaum thinks the protesters “wanted the government to respond with violence. But we’re not going to do that.” The protests ended five hours later around 11 p.m. when paramedics arrived to treat the injured, 14 of whom were police officers. Sheinbaum has said that there will be consequences for the violence.

The most recent rape cases ignited the fire of an already explosive rage beneath the surface for women in Mexico.

@solehdad / Twitter

The United Nations estimates that an average of nine women are murdered every day in Mexico. The UN defines femicide as the deliberate killing of a woman or girl because of their gender, often after other violent, sexual crimes.

The Mexican government’s records of femicide rates are so inaccurate, journalist María Salguero, 40, has taken it upon herself to create her own map of femicides in Mexico. Salguero suspects that the state seeks to minimize gender-based violence, so she tracks the femicides for herself. Using Google alerts, Salguero records all of Mexico’s femicidal horror stories of 11-year-old taking the bus home and being found in the very same bus the next day, raped and murdered.

Mexican police have a long history of brutality against women.

@occupyoccupy / Twitter

“In the late 90s cops kidnapped three girls, three underage girls,” tweets one #NoMeCuidanMeViolan protester. “They raped them, and forced them to clean, cook and do stuff for them. One of them escaped and that’s how this was known. The three families however experienced retaliation.”

These stories are embedded in the fabric of Mexican society. Women have taken to social media to share the lessons their mothers taught them: to run from police. Never make eye contact. “Police are well known in #MexicoCity for being the main source of violence and corruption,” a protester tweets. “In 100 years since the establishment is #Mexico as we know it, no one has brought the police to account.”

Other teenagers have taken to social media to deliver chilling anticipatory goodbyes to their families.

@homeak / Twitter

If Human Rights Watch says Mexican laws do not adequately protect women and girls against domestic and sexual violence,” and law enforcement is actively raping young girls, how could they possibly feel safe?

To those more upset over vandalism than the violation of women’s bodies and lives, here’s your translation for the above graffiti: “The walls can be cleaned, but the girls will never return.”

#NoMeCuidanMeViolan protesters do not want to be compared to #MeToo.

@giselilla / Twitter

“This week in #Mexico feminists protested against the rape of a 17-year old by cops,” tweeted human rights lawyer and journalist, Gisela Pérez de Acha. “As justice is non-existent and the media criminalizes victims, the #MeToo hashtag does not suffice. Latin American feminisms are amazingly organized. #MeToo is not our paradigm #NoMeCuidanMeViolan”

Pérez de Acha is right. In the aftermath of the march, major media outlets’ reporting has focused on the damage from protesters, rather than from police officers.

Some protesters knew the media would bypass the femicide and rape crisis and focus on property damage.

@gringatears / Twitter

After coming home from the march, one protester tweeted their “final thoughts” about what tomorrow would bring. “Tomorrow’s headlines will inevitably emphasize the destruction of property by women protesting Mexico’s crisis of rape and femicide.”

Mexico’s largest media outlet, El Universal, chose to focus on the counter-protesters, “With hashtag #EllasNoMeRepresentan [They don’t represent me] condemn acts of vandalism during feminist march.” ABC News‘ headline read “Mexico City assesses monument damage after anti-rape march.” The Independent‘s headline chose to focus on a “TV presenter punched live on air during protest.”

So far, the media has quoted more art historians than protesters.

@rosepetalflufff / Twitter

In fact, in all the major U.S. outlets we reviewed, we haven’t seen a single protester quoted in their stories. Instead of spreading more statements from art historians, mitú is aiming to amplify the voices that make up #NoNosCuidanNosViolan.

“I’m thinking about who the media criminalizes and how,” Mexico City journalist Madeleine Wattenbarger tweets. “About what we consider violence, about how the symbolic violence of breaking a window has more impact than the direct violence of attacking, raping, killing a human being.”

Estamos contigo, México. ✊🏾

@madeleinewhat / Twitter

The case involving four police officers allegedly raping a 17-year-old in a patrol car has gone cold after prosecution said there were inconsistencies in the teen victim’s testimony.

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