I am thankful, oh so thankful, for earplugs. It seems like such a little thing, but it is amazing the positive impact they have on my life.
I’m not sure when I first started using them. For the longest time I didn’t because I was afraid I wouldn’t hear my alarm clock in the morning. Strangely enough, alarms manage to cut through the foam. I think I probably started using them regularly in England. I lived with nine other people, which sounds really noisy, but it actually wasn’t. We were all postgraduates, and we all spent a lot of time in front of our computers. But there were the occasional louder late nights. Plus, the general British population is drunk and aggressive, or at the very least obnoxious, most of the time, so earplugs came in handy to keep street noise out.
And now in Beira I am even more grateful for my little foam wonders. There are two really terrible things about Mozambican culture: 1) a love of cheesy 90s music and overly sexual hip hop, and 2) volume. There have been nights when my next door neighbors’ music is so loud that we cannot hear our TV at the highest volume and when I can feel the hip hop vibrating through my bed. One particularly bad night when my housemate, a friend, and I were trying hard to watch a movie over the noise, I stood up and said, “How do you say, ‘Please turn the music down’ in Portuguese?” Then I asked if it was okay for me to say something to the neighbors. My housemate said, “I’m British. It never occurred to me to say anything.” But I’m American, and we like assertiveness, so I asked my neighbors to turn the music down. They turned it completely off for two minutes, then it was back up to the same volume. Fortunately, this only happens about once every other month.
But the street noise is regular and is more noticeable in the hot season when all our windows are open. On my housemate’s side of the apartment, she gets woken up every morning by someone’s TV turned up for the whole neighborhood to hear about who’s sleeping with whom on a Brazilian telenovela (soap opera). On my side of the apartment, I get woken up around 5am by the guard washing our downstairs neighbor’s car, sweeping the sidewalk, and talking with the other guards on the street. The whole volume thing extends to voices as well as music and TV.
Unless there’s a party going on, my neighborhood is usually asleep by the time I am. Well, the humans are, at least. The dogs, and there are many of them, stay awake all night long and pick street fights during my crabbiest, need-my-sleep hours. (Those are probably their crabbiest hours too, which is why they’re picking fights.)
And then last night–which is why I’m thinking today about how thankful I am for earplugs–some jovens (youth) decided to park their car on the street right outside my bedroom window and rock out to some hip-hoppy cheesiness. Again, the volume. I haven’t been sleeping well lately anyway, so I felt really irritated because I *really* need a good night’s sleep. But—ah comfort—there were my little orange friends on my bedside table. Sweet foamy friends. I popped them in and fell blissfully asleep and slept through the night. Without those bits of foam, I would have had a fitful night’s sleep and likely wouldn’t have been able to come up with anything today to be thankful for because I would have been that crabby. But instead I can be thankful for earplugs (and even a bunch of other things which I’m looking forward to writing about in the days to come).