Sounds of Life in a Caribbean Neighborhood

Updated on May 21, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora grew up, received early education and taught school in the Caribbean. Read her love and pride of the region - people and place.

From the crowing of the rooster at dawn to the chirping of the cricket at dusk, the sounds of people, animals and birds contribute to the joy of living in a Caribbean rural neighborhood.

There are also unwelcome sounds like mosquitoes buzzing, neighbors quarreling across the fence and radios blaring loud enough for an entire block to hear. Fortunately, neither the sounds we like nor those we dislike last forever, and pleasant sounds come around often enough.

From among other sounds (like dogs barking, weed cutters trimming) which are also common in upscale city areas, the ten selected for this article are common in the Kittitian (of St. Kitts) rural neighborhood.


1. Roosters Crowing

Country workers no longer depend on roosters for their wake-up alarm, but the roosters still begin to crow as early as three o’clock in the morning. It may be another hour before the rooster alarm sounds again in a chorus of echoes, as if each rooster is answering to a roll call. The crowing of the roosters ends the silence of the dark night and invites the neighborhood to greet the new day with excitement.

It is not clear whether aged roosters suffer dementia or they’re just hyperactive, but some continue to crow intermittently past the noon hour. They may be just happy.


2. Blackbirds Tweeting

There are a variety of birds hopping our trees and flowers in the neighborhood; but whenever I draw my window curtain in response to an early morning tweet, there is a blackbird looking for residential space in my window. Nothing more than a twig ever sticks, so there’s more to hear than to see when the birds come around. Whatever they do or tweet, it is comforting to just lay there and enjoy their morning song.


3. Bread Van Honking

Imagine that about the time the roosters begin to crow in chorus, one bread van is leaving the capital city and another is coming from the opposite direction to make their daily delivery to the neighborhood stores. They will also make stops for residents who wait at their gates to purchase fresh bread, meanwhile saving a few dimes by purchasing from the van instead of the store.

One enters the street with a shrill vibrato sound, more like a flute than a honk. The other sounds like a bass horn. Residents learn to identify the bread van which has the white bread, wheat bread, multigrain bread, raisin rolls, coconut drops or buns they prefer.


4. Fisherman’s Horn Blowing

Conch Shell Trumpet on Display.  Photo by Daderot
Conch Shell Trumpet on Display. Photo by Daderot | Source

Some fish are still jumping when the fisherman brings them to the neighborhood. How is that for fresh fish?

Entering the street, someone on the pickup truck blows into a large conch shell to announce that he has fish for sale. He continues to blow until a crowd gathers, or as he drives slowly through the area. Without the conch, someone on the truck will shout a call, “Come get your guar (or ballahoo or whatever type of fish they caught)”. The fishermen usually take their best fish to the restaurants and city fishery, but some country folk welcome the offer of having the fish come to them.


5. Visitors Calling

Source

Many Caribbean neighbors announce their visit in an extra high volume that matches their happy-go-lucky personalities. At the sight of the house they intend to visit, they call out in a cheery tone, “Anybody home?” or “Who lives here?” If the person in the house answers, it is possible that a conversation will begin though the visitor is several yards away from the front door.

There is usually no advance notice of the visit, so the resident may not have the opportunity to straighten up the living room before the guest walks through the door.


6. Children Playing

There is no park in the neighborhood, so any street or yard (even mine) may become a temporary playground. The most pleasant sound is their laughter between the yelling and screaming. They talk and laugh more loudly than an adult would like, but they transmit positive energy to those who view them positively. Happy children lend to the happiness of the neighborhood.


Sounds of the Caribbean Sea

7. Ocean Waves Splashing

During our childhood, some of us ran a few minutes to the seashore and enjoyed the sight, smell, touch, taste and sound of the ocean. For us who were children then, the sea is still part of our backyard and though it takes more effort now, we find it. Next to enjoying a cool morning swim, the best part of the event is sitting or standing on the beach, seeing and hearing the waves lash, splash, crash (or whatever word you choose) onto the shore. Different people have different names for the sound of the waves; it is that awesome!

Enjoy the video sound while you read on.



8. Congregations Singing

Accommodations in country churches do not include air conditioning. The windows remain open when the building is occupied, and the public address system is geared toward preaching the gospel to the entire parish. The singing is accompanied by a band complete with guitars and amplifiers.

Caribbean gospel music includes both reggae and calypso rhythms, so imagine the upbeat mood both inside and outside the church, and the additional sound of passersby humming along as they subconsciously walk to the beat.


9. Ice Cream Truck Serenading

Source

After church on Sundays, the instrumental sound of Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller’s tune for The Happy Wanderer adds sweetness to the air. Residents hum along or sing out “Val-deri--- Val-dera---” as the ice cream truck makes its way through the streets. Small children holding the hands of adults run to meet the truck and stand in line beside the older children.

The event gives practice to the younger ones in the art of saving or requesting money--a skill they will need long after they leave the neighborhood and Sunday ice cream.


10. Crickets Chirping

The sound of crickets chirping is a regular nighttime occurrence in the Caribbean garden, and one may get into the house through an open door. The cricket resembles the grasshopper although they do not belong to the same family. Only the males chirp as a way to attract females and it has been calculated that “to get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature.” (Everyday Mysteries)

So, the warmer the temperature, the faster the chirp; but after a while, the sound blends into the night as we give thanks for the sounds of a perfect day.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 21 months ago from The Caribbean

        Alun, I appreciate your feedback. It is great that you can relate. I agree that the sounds are just as important as the sights. Perhaps I can find your article about rural Thailand.

      • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

        Greensleeves Hubs 21 months ago from Essex, UK

        Lovely idea for a hub Dora. It is easy to forget the sounds when describing the place where one lives, and to concentrate on sights. But whilst sights may convey best of all the beauty and appearance of a location, it is the sounds which really make the place come alive and become vibrant.

        I can easily picture the village sounds you describe. It reminds me of a hub I once wrote about a rural village in Thailand. Many of the sounds of course are similar, and common the world over - roosters calling, children playing - whilst some have their own distinctive cultural twist - instead of a congregation singing, I had Buddhist temple chants and drums!

        And many of the sounds you describe are the sounds of a warm and friendly community, such as the ice cream truck and the neighbours greeting call - whilst others are the sounds of an exotic island paradise, such as the conch shell horn and the night calls of the crickets.

        A very nice hub of reminiscences Dora, with evocative images conveyed through the sounds of the village :) Alun

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Blossom, so happy to bring you some memories of happy childhood sounds. Couldn't agree more: "This is what the world should be like." Thanks for your feedback.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        Oh! What a delight to read this and to listen to those sounds. I remember so many of them from my childhood as we had poultry, lived near the sea and friends would just drop in to visit. Thank you! That is what the world should be like.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Rajan, glad you enjoyed the read. Having left it for many years, and then returned, it took some getting used to again; but now I appreciate it.

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        This read was like going back in time when I was working & living in a poultry farm which was in a rural setting. Even today, I stay in a semi urban area and can still relate to many of these.

        Wonderful read that I enjoyed.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Really! I must remember that. Thanks, Sujaya

      • sujaya venkatesh profile image

        sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

        a lucky person to enjoy all this

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Blond Logic, your comment is heartening; consider the article an invitation. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 2 years ago from Brazil

        I almost feel like I have visited your neighborhood.

        I think listening to these and other sounds around us is important. We can get so caught up in the day to day things we miss the simple pleasures. It is calming to just quiet the mind and listen.

        Our rooster crows throughout the day. I think he wants his ladies to know where he is.

        Thank you for sharing a bit of your neighborhood with us

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Catherine, I've not been to Virgin Gorda, but I bet the peacocks are also a gorgeous sight. Thanks for your kind comment.

      • CatherineGiordano profile image

        Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

        The sound I remember most from my years in the Caribbean is peacocks squawking. Peacocks do actually emit a sound. At The Lord nelson Inn in Virgin Gorda, there were peacocks and they squawked. This is a lovely hub not only about the sounds of the Caribbean but of life in the Caribbean.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        JG, picking the bread truck sound for always makes me smile. Thanks for the feedback.

      • jgshorebird profile image

        Jack Shorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

        Nice sounds. I pick waves, sometimes a rooster, crickets a lot and the Bread Truck always.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Peach, I prefer that visitors give notice, but yes, Caribbean friends and relatives show up anytime unexpectedly. It's a regular habit here--and they come for hours at a time. No hurry. You'd get accustomed.

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        You mean visitors drop by without giving u a call? Here, it is ill manner to do that..

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Marlene, the choice of a favorite makes me smile. Often I have to the door, wait quietly while they keep shouting then tell them when they get near, "I do not have any dogs, feel free to come knock." Sometimes that could be amusing.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from USA

        These are all such wonderful sounds. I think my favorite is when people come calling

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Blossom, I sure that you were a blessing to the audience. Yes, life in the Caribbean can be interesting, and we need those prayers now more than ever. Thanks for your comment and your prayers.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        What a delightful hub! It brings out the pleasure brought by the simple things of life. This year the Caribbean was one of the places chosen for the World Day of Prayer and I was invited to speak at a church some distance away. I was very grateful for my computer as I was able to learn so much about this wonderful country. Now I have learned more!

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thank, Alicia. Your comment is very encouraging.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is a lovely article based on a great idea, Dora. I enjoyed reading the hub very much.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Frank, glad to provide you some fun. Yes, we're close to generic earth sounds. Thanks for your very kind comment.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

        this was such an enteratining read MsDora as only you can develope such a fun hub.. the sounds in a Caribbean rural must be so true to real Earth's value.. bless you

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Good Morning, Faith. You have some wonderful sounds there too. It pays to focus on them sometimes. Thanks for your very pleasant feedback. Have a wonderful day and God bless you too.

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

        Oh, what a delightful read this day, MsDora! It is such a joy to listen to all of the life around us in any given day. After arriving home from the city during the week, I truly enjoy taking in the sounds here in the country with all the varieties of birds and other sounds. There has been a very unique sounding bird in a tree in our backyard that I cannot seem to place, but I enjoy listening.

        I heard and then I saw a redheaded woodpecker out front. I don't know why, but I love listening to them peck, peck, peck. LOL ...

        Every morning right around 5:00 a.m., I hear a donkey braying way down the pasture across from my home.

        We have the ice cream truck that goes around during the summer months for all of the children on summer vacation from school.

        Up and all the way across, tweeting pinning and sharing

        God bless you and all the life going on there in your wonderful neighborhood

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, James. Thanks for sharing your preferred noises. I agree that they do become a part of our comfort zone.

      • justthemessenger profile image

        James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

        Real good ideal for a hub. Local sounds provide a kind of comforting certainty to everyday life. I like tweeting birds and barking dogs in my auditory background. I also enjoyed the noise from trains on nearby tracks when living at previous places.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, so glad you had some fun. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Elle, I think you need to take care of your neeeeeeds. Thanks for your comment; you made me smile.

      • Homeplace Series profile image

        William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

        What fun! Thank you so much for sharing this. The smile is still on my face! ;-)

      • elle64 profile image

        elle64 2 years ago from Scandinavia

        I think I neeeeed to come for a visit, It sounds so gooood. Much Love E

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Shauna. Perhaps we can plug our ears against the roosters, but you'll miss some other sounds. Come on anyway!

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

        Oh, how I would love to spend some time in your neighborhood, Dora! I love the sounds of the waves, crickets, ice cream truck, singing.... Roosters I'm not too keen on, tho!

        I think it's very cool that you can tell which bread truck is coming by the sound it makes.

        Life in the Caribbean sounds magical!

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Bill. That you think it "enjoyable" means much to me. I appreciate your encouraging feedback.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

        That was an enjoyable read, Dora, and obviously quite a few people agree with me. I love that you took one of our senses and showed how it can be used so that all can understand and relate. Very well done!

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. You sent me to my dictionary; good for me. Welcome back to the tropics, anytime.

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

        What a beautiful bucolic hub. Your descriptions were so perfect I could hear the sounds. What a beautiful place.

        We went to Nassau and Freeport on a cruise and I could certainly live there! The warm breezes and fresh air are something else. Thank you for taking me back.

        Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thelma, thanks for your feedback. I don't always like the rooster's sound either, but it seems we have to learn tolerance for them since we get so many other sounds that we like to hear. In only imagine how different things are in Germany.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Jo, good to hear from you. Whenever you come back to the Caribbean, you'll enjoy these sounds all over again. You even remind me of the sound of rain when we had zinc roofs back then. Thanks for your feedback, and the best to you also.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Whonu, thanks for the reminder that it is all about appreciation and gratitude for all these simple things. Yes, life is great!

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Jackie. Another soft spot for the roosters! Yes, their sound is precious especially when we don't have to wake up to them. I appreciate your votes.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

        Those sounds reminded me of my hometown in the Philippines. I hate the sounds of the roosters as they mostly made sounds when I have started sleeping. I love the other sounds though especially the chirping of the birds. Time differences always destroyed my sleeping pattern when I fly home. Voted up and shared.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Flourish, I will remember your forgiving heart the next time the rooster crows when I am on the telephone. I usually fuss but it's not worth it. You convinced me. Thanks!

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Word, knowing that I entertained an entertainer gives me a good feeling. Thanks!

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Poetryman, there are many unique experiences for the Caribbean rural resident; sorry you miss out on this one. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Patty. Compiling these sounds encouraged me also to be more appreciative. Glad you enjoyed the article.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Jodah, happy to share. Glad you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, I can tell that you enjoy your neighborhood as much as I do mine. Thanks for sharing.

      • tobusiness profile image

        Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

        Ms Dora, reading this hub is like stepping back in time. The early morning rooster crowing, black birds chirping, crickets chirping at night time and especially after a down pour are all sounds that can evoke some powerful emotions. However, my personal favourite is the sound of lapping waves. Thank you for the trip down memory lane, a great way to start my day. :)

        My best always. Jo

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

        A beautiful list of everyday sounds we sometimes take for granted and then we look back and realize how special they are to us.Thank you for sharing this my friend, MsDora. whonu

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

        MsDora you have highlighted the simple things in life...the ones we all adore and must never lose. Thank you for sharing this wonderful message of sweetness. Life is well worth living my friend. whonu

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

        Ah, those sounds Dora! The rooster crowing is my favorite and quite a few times I have heard a rooster at 2 or 3 AM and wondered why but they give me this snuggle back in sleep feeling whenever it is because I have seldom gotten up with the roosters!

        You have chosen another great one as usual! Very enjoyable. All my votes and shares. ^+

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

        This sounds like such a happy existence! I think I could even forgive that rooster! Voted up and more. I love learning about Hubbers' lives that are different than mine. Thank you for this! Sharing!

      • word55 profile image

        Word 2 years ago from Chicago

        This was good entertainment. The roosters sounded off, the crickets swished their wings as they chirped, the water sounded cool and fresh. I didn't the dogs barking??? Oh well, this was great. It was all good. It's a reminder of the good ole days. Thanks for sharing!

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 2 years ago

        You certainly bring some colorfulness and delight to the day. Voted up.

        That bread van thing is something I have never experienced. Getting the bread stuff fresh would be nice.

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

        Patty Inglish 2 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        These are a lot of happy sounds and I can hear them as I read your narrative about them. Altogether, they would make a fun relaxation tape to enjoy. Thanks for this Hub. Rated Up and more.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

        What a delightful hub MsDora. I enjoyed every word and felt as though I was actually living in a Caribbean Rural neighborhood. I miss living in an area where the bread van, ice cream man, fisho etc used to come around. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. Voted up.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        It was a pleasure to read this. It is a nice feeling to know that neighborhoods so far away share the same familiar sounds as we do. Roosters to ice cream trucks and neighbors hollering to say howdy and warn ya. We have tamale vendors who shout out and ring a bell as they push carts down the street instead of fish vendors and bread. We cannot hear the ocean waves but we get a nice ocean breeze through our palm trees. And our blackbirds and crickets always signal the beginning and end.

        Thank you

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