Rose Burillo – The Famous Noises of Mexico City

mexico streets

All cities can be noisy but nowhere compares to the crazy sounds of Mexico City. In fact this is something which you really have to get used to if you move here, because no matter where you are staying, you can guarantee that you will hear the wide array of sounds which you cannot escape from. Some of these sounds are famous around the world and tourists often try to play noise bingo when they get here, pointing out all of the sounds of the cityscape. 

Here is what to expect when you get here. 

Garbage Bell 

There is no garbage collection service in Mexico City and what they actually do is come around with the big trash vans and you take it out to them. This is why you need to get used to hearing the loud ringing of the bell when the cart coms around, at which point you have just a few minutes to get up and get that trash out. 


One of the most famous noises which you will hear in the city is the vans which come around looking for old washing machines, mattresses and anything else which is not needed any more. Many years ago a man recorded his young daughter singing a song which told everyone the stuff which they collected, and he played it over loud speaker for the streets. These days everyone has taken on that recording to let everyone know when they are around. My friend Rose Burillo tells me that the New York Times rated this as one of the world’s most iconic city sounds. 


Many people still use gas tanks at the roof of their building and very often these need to be changed. There are workers who come around with their truck load of gas canisters and when they arrive they walk the streets shouting gas out loud and in a long lasting single note. 


Tamales are delicious snacks which use corn that is stuffed with chicken and spices. These are sold each morning and each evening in Mexico City and you will know when they are up for sale thanks to the song that is played over loud speaker. The message basically tells you to come get your tamales, and it is another iconic sound of the city. 

Knife Sharpening 

One of my favorite sounds which is played on the streets of Mexico is a whistle that you will hear once or twice per day. The whistle is made by someone whoo is on their bike, and who has attached a sharpening wheel to the front. When you hear the sound you can take your knives down to be sharpened. The worker will then change the gears on the bike so that as they pedal, the sharpening wheel goes around. This is both a cool sound to hear and a great service which is offered on the city streets. 

These are just some of the famous sounds you’ll hear in Mexico City.