It’s late. Through the ornate window grate I am given visual few clues to the time. The sun sets by early evening and the dim lights keep the stuccoed wall its permanent colour – salmon pink. All I have is the intermittent sounds of Marrakesh.
On the first night here I made a futile attempt to drown out the noise with ear buds and music. It was clear this would be a losing battle. I resigned myself to reframe the situation and listen to the music of the city. The instruments include mopeds, voices and language of many, cats, garbage men, calls to prayer, the opening of doors and the occasional unknown. The undistinguishable murmur of the Jemaa el-Fnna square and nearby streets full of shops provide background into the night. But these aren’t late night activities and soon are removed from the orchestra.
Tonight we start the song with a handful of mopeds and an animated discussion among friends. Perhaps sorting out plans for the night or next day at work? That’s the fun part – I get to fill in the blanks. The sounds only tease my brain, push it down the creative path. Arabic sounds extreme to my ears, either animated or aggressive,with little context to place it correctly in a category. Mopeds zoom away and the chatter quiets. The screeching of fighting cats and clipping of heals on the roadway take turns breaking the silence of the night.
Another verse comes – the garbage man. Each night the road is spotted with small bags of garbage, and each day we awake to a spotless street. This amazes me as the noise made sounds like creating a mess, not cleaning one. Glass smashes, plastic bottles are crinkled and the garbage is sorted into a wagon that ungracefully moves down the street. The essential sweeping is too soft to hear.
It’s too late for a call to prayer, which are a clear reminder we’re not in Kansas anymore. The call is rarely the same and here in Marrakesh sounds overly animated like a boisterous play-by-play sports announcer.
Tonight my friends add to the music of the night as they cheer watching Game 7 baseball (spoiler alert: Cubs win the World Series). They sit on the roof top patio and their trips down the metal stairs to use the loo mix with the common street noise of someone fumbling with a key to open a squeaky and loud metal door. Although I can’t spatially place the metal noise I recgonize not everyone is coming in to join us.
Ultimately, the sounds of the city do as intended and send me to sleep.