Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

November 23, 2011

South America Public Health VII

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 3:17 am

There is a bird whose morning conversation, we have conjectured, may well have inspired the melodies of human songs. He lives in a tree among the flowering plants of the Hotel´s garden. Attempting to transmit his vocal pattern via prose will cheapen it, but I have no recorder.

With crepuscular light over Asuncion, he whistles a high / low / high / low pattern which jumps up a half octave after a few repetitions, then down for a few more. It´s so distinctive, it stands out over all the other birds´jabbering into the early morning, even the piercing caw of the caged macaw.

Notice the onomatopeoia in the bird´s name?

They speak two languages here: most Paraguayans speak Spanish, imposed on them by gunpowder and steel from Europe 500 years ago; all of them speak Guarani, the language of the original dwellers of forest and savannah who must have learned from the birds how to communicate.

Now the Spanish here has taken on the melody of Guarani, the melody of the animals. It is smoother than the Quechua infused Spanish of Peru and Bolivia, and certainly softer than the arrogant trills and sibilants of Argentina, the looming big brother who casts his shadow over Paraguay in many ways – most currently, on T.V.

This city has doubled or tripled in size since I lived and worked here long before my hair was grey, bringing plenty of Public Health issues to feed my synopsis to come. But the bird in the garden tree ignores all that and speaks with his original voice – his only voice. The voice that taught some of us to speak.

We could all benefit by listening more to such organic sounds, and a whole lot less to the electrionic sounds that have taken over our world.

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