Saturday, 1 December 2012

Night Noise

There is almost no traffic noise here and certainly not at night. It is after dark when most of the accidents occur as few people bother with lights and alcohol plays a significant part in those.
There are so many other sounds at night, though. Some you get used to and hardly register. Others are repetitive and very annoying. Then there are the unusual new sounds that I lay awake and wonder about! The window louvers are always open to allow as much breeze as possible into my room. Sometimes the ceiling fan masks some sounds.

The usual cicadas are there rasping away as a background to everything else. Sometimes the vampire bats throw a party in the tree outside my window and “laugh” for hours. Cockerels crow at all times of the day and night and the persistent ones set off others so I can hear them across the town in chorus. The moat platform around the house is inhabited by goats all the time and they rest there most of the night. There is a wider space below my window and whole families lie, grunting, snoring, farting and generally being farm animals a few feet from my head! Pigs sometimes try to join the goats and then the fun really starts! Lately, sheep have been heard around my house. Their bleat is louder and the animals larger but thinner than our more cuddly, fluffy sheep. I am not a fan of Ghanaian sheep and wonder why they keep them as I have never had the opportunity to eat any meat. The wool is thin and I’m not aware of them being shorn for their fleece either.

During the rainy season, large puddles form around the house and these are inhabited by bullfrogs who croak very loudly from dusk until about 11pm each night. I imagine they have to sleep sometime too! The local dogs have nights when they howl and bark for hours across the town to each other. They clearly set each other off. I have been told they sense when one of their number is killed, to eat, and they mourn very loudly for hours.

There are other sounds that fascinate me and are quite unusual. It is impossible to determine whether they are insects, bats or other nocturnal creatures but their noises are often rather musical in their repetition. Since the harvests have finished and the animals let loose to roam and forage, huge cattle have lumbered through the dry grass and dead plants, eating their way around the houses. Their lowing is very deep and I can hear them coming from some distance.

Man made noise is not so evident except when somebody leaves their music or radio on throughout the night. There appears to be only one level of volume and the assumption that everyone wants to hear your choice of music. There is no soundproofing in these houses and it is astounding that anyone sleeps on these occasions. Nobody shouts for it to be turned down or off. The local people are extremely tolerant and as a visitor, I bite my tongue, of course.

Before dawn, small groups of women pass my window on their way to forage for wood to fuel their fires. Their conversation is unintelligible to me except for a few greetings. The mosque calls Muslims to prayer before 5am and I usually hear that. The calls vary in volume and duration and I always wonder how many leave their beds and heed the call each day.
I know the day has begun when the sweeping starts. Swishing short African brooms herald the dawn and a new day.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Deb, That was probably my favourite post so far. Beautiful. Having experienced the bit of snuffling and grunting from goats under the bedroom window when Victor and I were there in April, you've taken me right back. It's wonderful to really listen to sounds properly. For the most part, sounds often go unheard, so it's lovely to be reminded that they're worth listening to, whatever they are. Lovely. Ros x