I realized some time ago my education here goes way beyond the local language and customs. I’ve become familiar with so many new sounds. I now know the sound of a chicken when it’s being killed, a goat when it’s giving birth, the baby next door when it’s hungry. I know the sound of the tonal repetitions in the local language when two close friends meet in passing; the rumble of the flour grinder two houses down and the hum of a nearby generator; the sound of mice and big lizards running around my ceiling at night and the ruckus that ensues when one chases the other (I always root for the lizard); the sound of the marché across the way from me carrying on well into the night; the deep-throated grumble of cattle as they graze in front of my house; the low clicking orders of their herder; the whining of children versus the baying of goats, though I swear one goat sounds like he’s always saying in a deep grumpy voice “Badddddd!” (I’ve named him Eeyore); all the different bird and insect calls. I’m even learning to discern the voice of each student who, in passing at night, will see me cooking dinner by candlelight and holler out from the dark “Good Evening, Madame Catherine!”
There are no glass windows here, just metal shutters and sometimes screens, so you can hear everything going on within several dozen meters. With all the noise I find myself listening more. That is, before I put in earplugs at night to try and get some sleep!