It’s 6:30am on a Saturday morning, and you are snug in your bed, sleeping off the imbibitions of the previous night.The distant sounds of the ocean are soothing your slightly pressurized skull. You’re dreaming of dancing salsa in the arms of a hot chico in the rain. And then this sound blasts you out of your happy oblivion:
“RUFF RUFF RUFF! RUFF RUFF RUFF! RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!”
What you are listening to, my friend, is a cover of the song “Jingle Bells”, apparently made witty by the fact that is being sung by a man imitating a dog. This charming holiday rendition is being blared from a series of horrible quality speakers on poles that are interspersed throughout the town. Think yard speaker systems from Shawshank Redemption or Schindler’s List, or any movie with a prison/camp.
If you’ve spent any length of time in Montañita, Manglaralto, or many other villages in Ecuador that have this fun system, you probably have tons of fun experiences with the very liberal usage of the “public service announcement”. You could be on the beach, in bed in your home, having a quiet romantic meal in a restaurant; the lovely sounds will find you and kill any attempt to have a conversation, listen to music, watch a movie, or even think. The following is a sampling of the extremely important and interesting announcements that the whole town has been blessed with as of late:
“Hello everyone. Don Emilio’s wife has lost her cat. She is very sad. If anyone has seen the cat of Don Emilio’s wife please tell her where to find it, she is very worried.”
Note: Apparently Don Emilio’s wife has no name and can only be identified as Don Emilio’s wife. That must have been very complicated for her before she got hitched. Also, no description of said feline.
“The cellphone of Luis R. has been stolen. This is unacceptable. Everyone please go their homes and look for the phone and report the thief to the police.”
Yes, of course. Because if I have the stolen phone in my home, this announcement would definitely be the push I needed to give it back to Luis R. and hand myself in…
“Hola hola hola hola hola… esta vaina funcionando? Hola hola hola hola hola hola….”
This tends to go on for an inconceivable length of time.
“All woman, go to the church for bailoterapia class.”
Bailoterapia is like a jazzercise/aerobics class. But apparently the announcers think it’s only for woman… “Females! Get your fat asses to the exercise class, ASAP!”
“The following businesses, Tienda del Surfista, Tigre Bar, Club Fiesta…; and the following individuals, Jose G, Señor F. Carlos M., la niña M. Fuentes…; YOU ALL STILL OWE DUES TO THE COMUNA* DE MONTAÑITA. Please make your payments at…”
I’ve changed the names to protect these folks from public embarrassment though since every man, woman, and child in town now knows about their financial difficulties, I’m not really sure why I bothered…
“Okay everyone, let’s play some BINGOOOOOO! Everyone who picked up their cards, get them ready! First number… 24… 24… 24… 24. Second number…”
This is the point where you go home, bury your head in pillows, and weep.
There’s been recent development as local politicking has heated up. Politician A is holding a rally in town. He has enormous speakers on his little stage so that every corner of the town can enjoy hearing not only his fantastic development plans but also the annoying singer in the tiny dress who’s pumping up the crowd between speeches. Politician B is already in the Comuna and therefore has access to the town’s speaker system. Politician B decides that he’s gonna give HIS speech about HIS fantastic development plan too… at the same time… on the public announcement system. So clearly he needs to turn the volume on the town speakers up even higher so that you can hear him over Politician A. Gotta love election season.
Or the tried and true routine: terrible music just being blared for several hours. The public service being to enliven everyone’s mornings I suppose. Thus the doggie Christmas music. I sure felt enlivened.
Travel advice of the day: Bring earplugs.
*the Comuna is the local governing body of Montañita.