Mexico Life
Brass band, Oaxaca, Mexico In Mexico, it's not really a party until you break out the brass. deposit photos

How to get rich quick in a country that loves deafeningly loud music

Blasting, high-decibel music is a recipe for hearing loss — and a business opportunity in disguise

I’m gonna get rich. Very rich. Filthy rich, in fact. How, you may ask? Simple. I’m going to open a chain of hearing aid stores in Mexico.

OK, that’s not as sexy as opening a chain of stores selling, say, Gucci handbags or the latest cell phone. And I don’t want to open them because it’s rumored that more retired American expats are moving here; they probably already have hearing aids.

Me, I’m aiming for the local market.

I’ve traveled fairly extensively across Mexico, and I don’t recall seeing any hearing aid stores. I suppose there have to be a few, but if there are, they’ve escaped my detection.

I don’t understand why there aren’t hundreds — thousands, even.

I see dentist offices everywhere, and I’ve read that’s because Mexicans consume huge quantities of soda, especially Coke. This leads to cavities which lead to dentist visits.

But hearing aid stores? Nary a one. But that’s about to change because I’m gonna start a chain that’ll make Starbucks look like some little mom-and-pop operation.

Why do I think that this will make me rich? Because millions of Mexicans, if they aren’t already nearly deaf, will be soon. Very soon.

This is because they’re apparently blissfully unaware that sitting next to huge speakers or walking in front of bands blasting out norteño music — at religious processions, fiestas, quinceñeras and pretty much any event that’s happening in Mexico — may not be a particularly good idea.

I’ve been in processions where bands play at ear-shattering decibels and no one seems to notice. Or care. These are bands that are playing at a volume that would make a 1973 Led Zeppelin concert seem like a quaint string quartet recital.

The bands are almost always at the back of the procession, meaning that dozens of people are walking immediately in front of them, seemingly without a care in the world. Me, I’ve learned to stay as far away from the band as possible — way in front or way, way behind the band. Even a few seconds next to a band leaves my ears ringing for the rest of the day.

And then there are the fiestas where people will sit directly in front of the bandstand, where a dozen or more musicians are blasting out music. Of course, these musicians are surrounded by speakers that I’m sure could have been used by The Who in their prime.

Yet people will think nothing of sitting in front of the percussionists — we’re talking snare drum, bass and crash cymbals — who are beating their instruments as hard as humanly possible.

They are not visibly bothered; in fact, they’ll most likely be carrying on a conversation. In what appears to be a normal voice. No shouting. Lots of smiles. Blissfully unaware of the pounding their eardrums are taking.

But now when I see people exposing themselves to deafening music, I don’t worry. Because now I see my fortune waiting to be made.

Joseph Sorrentino, a writer, photographer and author of the book San Gregorio Atlapulco: Cosmvisiones and of Stinky Island Tales: Some Stories from an Italian-American Childhood, is a regular contributor to Mexico News Daily. More examples of his photographs and links to other articles may be found at  He currently lives in Chipilo, Puebla.

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