The roosters start at about 4:30 am and are joined by a chorus of wailing babies at daybreak. A car roars to life in the early morning, as our teams get ready to head out. The quiet “flip-flop” of an expat’s sandals can be heard outside my door as an early riser heads to the latrine.
Quiet conversations between the water Mama’s also start early, as they are busy pumping and filling 20-liter jugs at the hand pump in the compound. They will be back and forth many times throughout the day, balancing these heavy jugs on their heads and delivering water to all of the distribution points in the project. The dull thump-thump-thump of manioc being beaten into a fine powder can always be heard. Recently, the swishing and crunching of a peanut de-shelling apparatus starts early and goes on all day.
Each Sunday, the village is filled with song and the deep beat from dozens of drums as the various congregations meet for church.
Mating season for goats and the guinea fowl was especially noisy.
Funeral processions involve the combined chorus of dozens of people chanting and singing and wailing, as mourners progress down the main street and out of town.
Ceremonies from traditional healers or “witch doctors” can last more than a full day and undoubtedly involve chanting and screaming as they chase the evil sprits away. One of our neighbors practices this type of medicine and must be good as he has lots of clients and is often busy well into the night.
As the sun sets, things slow down but don’t really stop. Some nights, the village ‘cinema’ blares out the sounds to a Congolese movie for everyone to hear. There is a sort of bar not too far away and the loud chatter of those who’ve had a bit too much to drink floats over our fence.
The MSF generator shuts down at 9:00 pm and the hum of Concern’s generator dies out at 10. Sometimes an expat’s music or the movie from a laptop can be heard through the tukul walls. The scratching of rats in my roof will often wake me in the middle of the night.
The guards quietly make their rounds.
The crickets are suddenly very loud.
…but it is never completely quiet.