By , September 24, 2011 3:55 pm

To me, San Pedro La Laguna was a paradoxical town where you always had to walk uphill to get where you’re going. Seriously, it’s the town our Grandpas always talked about – you know… “I had to walk uphill both ways to school”? That’s San Pedro.

San Pedro La Laguna, from Volcan San Pedro

We lived there for six weeks, and the sounds of the town will forever be burned into my memory. So I thought I’d share them here…

Tortilla Making

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is (5 a.m. or 9 p.m.) or what part of town you’re in (except for Gringoland, which we usually avoided), you can always hear the slap-slap-slap of tortilla making somewhere nearby. We didn’t encounter a single machine pressed tortilla in San Pedro… each one was handmade and delicious.

You can always find tortillas at the markets, but you need to follow the sounds of tortilla-making to someone’s home for the best ones…


Several times throughout the day, there were loud explosions from fireworks and firecrackers. Even after six weeks, I still jumped every time I heard one of the big bangs. We asked around and learned that the explosions are part of local celebrations… birthdays, political gatherings, the purchase of a new chicken… it seems if anything happens of note, there must be a bang to go with it.

Marching Bands

Marching bands appear to be ingrained in Guatemalan culture. Every school has one, and the matching feathered caps to go with it. They have a huge competition for Independence Day (September 15). Since any good marching band needs practice (and so do the bad ones, which we heard our share of), we had the pleasure of waking up to the sounds of them some days (at 5 a.m. on election day) and hearing them throughout the streets of San Pedro nearly every day.

OK, this marching band isn’t actually marching… and it’s in Xela… but you get the point


I can’t forget the turkeys. Chickens, roosters, and turkeys ruled the town. We often heard them scratching on one of the corrugated tin roofs nearby and we woke up/studied/fell asleep to their cries each day.

Turkeys on a roof

Political Rallies & Songs

Because we arrived about six weeks before the election, and left the day after, we were serenaded with the sounds of nightly political rallies. Our hotel happened to be half a block away from the incumbent mayor’s political headquarters. His name was Chico Mendoza and he had three of his own songs. They were blasted from about 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 or so. We later found out, as we were walking through Centro in Xela, that he actually just ripped off popular songs by rewriting the lyrics. Nonetheless, here’s our favourite (we even have a dance that goes with it, but I’ll leave that to your imagination):

What are some of the sounds you’ve come to know (and love) at your favourite travel destination?

2 Responses to “The Sounds of San Pedro”

  1. Casey says:

    In Vietnam/Cambodia . The constant honking of motorcycles. Im sure youll soon know what i mean 🙂

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