Mexicans use a variety of signals to
indicate the arrival of a lot of different things. Most
of these are universal throughout the country, and Cozumel
is no exception. You're really only likely to experience
some of these if you're not staying in one of the major
hotels or resorts.
Cowbell: In the downtown
areas of Cozumel, and in general in surrounding towns,
a ‘runner’ dashes through the streets in advance
of the arrival of the garbage truck. This is the time
to take your trash to the corner, and shortly it will
Whistle: Bottled water vendors. Accompanied
by shouts of “Agua!” just in case you didn’t
notice the shrill whistle.
Pan Flute: Bring out your dull knives,
and the guy playing the pan flute will sharpen them for
Jazzy Jingles: The gas trucks. Each
company has their own jazzy little jingles on tape and
boradcast via loudspeakers on the truck. Those few that
don’t just drive around shouting “El Gas!”
and banging the cylinders with a wrench.
“The Alley Cat Waltz”: Ice
cream vendor with a loudspeaker on his/her car.
Small Bells or bicycle horn: Ice cream
vendor with a push-cart. Might be hand-scooped into a
cone, or 'paletas', which are frozen fruit on a popsicle
stick. Try the coconut, it's delicious!
Car Alarm: Could be an actual car alarm,
or could be one of the many extra noise-generating devices
installed by many Mexican drivers to hopefully get the
attention of an attractive woman or a friend.
and Drums: Either a small parade (Mexicans love
to parade), or could be a small (as few as one person)
drum and bugle corp that traverse the streets for entertainment.
Children who collect ‘cooperaciones’ (donations)
will accompany the band, going door to door seeking a
few coins as payment for the free concert.
Klaxon Horn: Police signaling somebody
to pull over or to move their illegally-parked car.
Unintelligible Voice on Loudspeaker:
It’s unintelligible because either the loudspeaker
is broken or because you don’t understand Spanish,
or both. In any case, it’s somebody selling something…might
be fresh strawberries, melons, shrimp, or other produce.
Other mobile loudspeakers advertise repairs for appliances,
buyers of scrap metal, selling of furniture, etc.
Other voices shouting in the
streets (not amplified): You may witness vendors
of all sorts wandering the streets of the city, selling
fresh cheeses (delicious), donuts, fresh bread, long-handled
plumes for dusting the high rafters or ceiling fans, chairs
or other furniture, or ????? In Cozumel as in Mexico
in general, you don’t necessarily have to go shopping…often,
the stuff comes to you!
Beep, Beep, Beep-Beep-Beep:
(Car horn) to the rhythm of "Let's Go Mex-i-co!"
usually indicates a celebration of a National Soccer Team
victory, although this country is so soccer-crazy they
celebrate even if the team loses but made a good showing.
Loud Mariachi Music:
Somebody's having a wedding party, or a 'quinceano' (celebration
of a daughter's 15th birthday, her 'coming of age' party),
or other important celebration. In Mexico and Jalisco
State especially (Jalisco is the birthplace of Mariachi
music), hiring a band is common for any big party. If
it's too loud or too late, your best bet is to go join
the party. Resident gringos know that to attempt lowering
the volume on a neighbor's party is fruitless, so they
just go join the party, where they are nearly always welcomed
with sincere grace and pleasure.
HERE for more on Mariachi Music.