Monday, November 5, 2007

Hearing loss – an inevitable consequence of life in Spain

As I’m writing this, my favorite Spanish TV chef Karlos Arguiñano is explaining how to make pastries filled with leeks and ham, accompanied by a delicious-looking roasted squash soup. Unfortunately, despite having the TV volume on high, I can’t hear a word Karlos is saying. My lovely neighbors upstairs decided lunchtime would be a good time to move and build furniture. My lovely neighbors across the way decided lunchtime would be a good time to blast music and have a big group sing-a-long. And my lovely neighbors down the street decided lunchtime would be a good time to have a shouting match in the alley below my window.

And that is why I can not hear the TV sitting less than five feet away from me. And that is why, after five years in Spain, I have noticed a serious decrease in my auditory capabilities. Between obnoxious neighbors, loud mopeds and motorcycles, constant construction, and a culture based on shouting, it’s impossible to spend any significant amount of time in Spain without experiencing hearing loss.

They say, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” but in the case of noise in Spain, I prefer not to join ‘em. Blasting my music into the courtyard for revenge may temporarily make me feel better, but in the end, I’ll just be contributing to the further deterioration of my hearing. So all I can do is be patient and savor the one or two hours of silence I get each day, when the kids are at school, the adults are at work, and the rest of the world is having a siesta. It’s just that, on days like today, the hours leading up to my silent time seem like an eternity.

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