Print this page
Thursday, 23 October 2014

One Sound Made all the Difference

Written by Magdalena Zenaida
Rate this item
(0 votes)

 

 

 

It isn't often that I recall the detailed sounds of a place, even the smallest ‘clink’, as if it were from a song I have played a thousand times.   Yet the song of that hostel, I recall every noise that echoed throughout my many slumbers.

  

There was the sound of the heavy wooden door of the Baroque mansion that had been converted into a partying paradise.  It swung open laboriously as travelers came in and out, the buzzer lasting only a few seconds as the electric lock freed.  The door was never unlocked.  It swung shut heavily and the heavy brass locks clinked as they met.  The ever present sound of flip flops gliding across a film of dust and sand on the tiles was punctuated with the thud of heavy backpacks and suitcases plopping down without care.  Sometimes there was a dog yelp, from one of the two resident pups whose tail was in the backpacker’s path.  The phone and the doorbell rang without cessation.  The lobby was a blur of questions, mostly in English with European or Australian accents.

 

The courtyard was different cacophony of sounds, echoes confined into it’s open air square.  The housekeeper moved around at a slow pace, the scraping of her buckets and brooms across the tiles of that had faded in the sun.  In the morning, she made the only sound, but during the afternoon it was interrupted by the splash of hostel guests playing with cheap Colombian toys in the pool, a plastic gator struggling to retain its squeaker after many games of hot potato.  The heavy doors to other rooms around the patio, made the same loud opening and closing noise, their tall frames stretching to the twelve foot ceilings, but still not waking the guests who often passed out until the late hours of the afternoon.  By then, it was not the pool, but the echoes of the television that blared into the courtyard.  An assembly of nations filled the tv room, and met in common desire to watch American cartoons for adults, a handful of sitcoms, and Scarface.  Late into the night, the speakers sent out inaudible conversation except for the boom of explosions and dramatic music. 

  

The upstairs hid its sounds behind a heavy red velvet curtain.  Flip flops smacked the stairs of ceramic tiles worn to a concave curve in the middle, as guests attempted to balance their drinks. Inside the bar, it was a flurry of quiet chatter in the day, raising to a crescendo every night.  The billiard balls clacked together against a repeating playlist of whatever was popular in the US at the moment.  It echoed out of the balconies into the streets filled with Colombians, and let them know that the gringos were upstairs behind the electric locks.  Cheap heavy glasses and beer bottles clinked against the sticky bar and a refrigerator door opened and closed, the rubber gasket puffing for each new arrival in need of a welcome beer, or someone trading that in for a water or Coke.  ‘Tony el Tigre Montana’ meowed vengefully at whomever was not providing him with the food he thought was his, crawling with his sharp kitten claws from one barstool to the next.  Occasionally soccer matches boomed over it all.  And one night, fireworks literally boomed indoors.  A rocket shot off into the balcony from outside, by the drunken owner himself.   

 

 


 

  

But if it rained- all was quiet.  I laid on my hard mattress and ancient filthy pillow and listened to the rain pelting the concrete, alternating with the plunking sound in the pool.  It was like a fountain lulling me to sleep while the fan barely hung onto the ceiling as it rattled above.  There was only a curtain between the window to my room and the courtyard, the typical Baroque shutters that let air circulate throughout the rooms.  The travelers who walked up the metal staircase to the rooftop to smoke cigarettes and other substances, banged their feet up the stairs, a pinging noise where they grasped the metal rails.

 

If it thundered, I wasn’t alone.  There would be three rhythmic scratches at my door, and then another one.  I opened the door, and then lied down.  Three more scratches.  My two dog companions had come to seek shelter, one after the other.  The grey mutt sighed softly as she curled up in a cool corner, the black dog made a heaving thump on the mattress he brought himself up on my bed. These were the second best sounds of the hostel. 

  

The first was a melody I can still hear.  “Magdalena, Magdalena, Magdalena,” he said.  It was as there was some awe, or incredulousness behind it- as if it had an unknowable future to him as he let my name fall off his tongue.  He said it to himself, behind the wooden bars of the Baroque window where he sat behind his desk, and I sat on the other side, quietly rocking in chair on the patio.  It rolled throughout me and I sensed a future too.  That sound, made all the difference.

 

 

 

(c)Magdalena Zenaida

Last modified on Friday, 24 October 2014