A Christmas Carol
This is the blackest Christmas day I ever experienced. All night I was kept awake and haunted by three nightmares, which I so much hoped to have left behind in the Netherlands and which enabled me to leave the Netherlands without even a blink of my eye. Being haunted again I decided to skip La Herradura from my settlement list. The good and kind people that we came to know here in this short period deserve an explanation.
In the little village we used to live in the Netherlands we were incessantly plagued by traffic noise. This came from the several highways that connect important economic centers such as the German Ruhr area, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. The economic value of the traffic made the noise tolerable. Before we left though, I promised myself never to be plagued again by such a nightmare.
La Herradura, where we now temporally hire a small cottage, is situated only a few miles from highway A7 that connects Almeria with Málaga. You can’t hear this highway from where we live. What we now and then do hear is the traffic on the N340. Which is close by. But during the week hardly any traffic noise reaches our cottage.
All this changes during the weekend and the holidays. A friend of ours who lives here already for an extended period, more than five years ago made notice of it. Motorcyclists tend to use the N340 to maintain or develop their driving skills. At the same time, they produce an amount of noise that makes it impossible for thousands of people that live along the N340 to be able to hear inside their houses what they say. This goes on from early in the morning until late at night.
Emotion science teaches that this kind of behavior can only be produced by three motives: pleasure, displeasure, or anxiety. Racing with a motor across a winding road through a hillside area is quite a pleasure. But what is it with the noise? Is it anxiety? But what’s the purpose? The only serious motive that is left is displeasure. These bikers must be so angry or sad that they have no alternative motive for their behavior other than to annoy people. And annoying it is.
But their noise vanishes in thin air compared to the noise that was produced last night from 24:00 to 05:00 hours somewhere down in the village. A hundred times and more, over and over again the same music was repeated. At least I think that is what the people who produce this noise call it. The problem is, if you love music there is no apparent reason to repeat the same number over and again. Moreover, there is no single reason to be conceived why the volume has to be so high that some citizens of Al Hoceima (الحسيمة) called the local police to find out where the racket came from. For those that are not familiar with the local geography, Al Hoceima is a luxurious beach resort on the Moroccan coast just some 150 kilometers opposite La Herradura across the Mediterranean. This goes to show how far noise can get across a flat surface such as the sea.
The racket produced brought back the nights I was kept awake in our little village in the Netherlands. Every weekend in a local community center, some hundred meters from where we used to live, a disco was organized. Since the local government owned the community center they did not have to adhere to government rules. Such as proper sound isolation or an alcohol license.
This brings me to my third nightmare. In the Netherlands, I experienced a total lack of a system of civilized community care that could curb such pathological behavior as the overproduction of noise. Here in La Herradura, I am haunted by the same nightmare. There is here no civilized community that could curb the pathological behavior of young punks who are so bored and who have but one goal that is to annoy people. So be it. On my shoulders rest the daunting challenge to revise my settlement list.
Which will be a very, very, very tough job.