Moving to my rock was a family affair. I relocated with my husband, a local Cypriot, and my two young kids. We were warmly embraced by his family, who happily wrapped their arms around their long-lost son and his American bride. Then we sat down for a long, lengthy lunch and that’s when it happened:
It started almost immediately. Somewhere between passing the souvlaki and the tzatziki, the voices went from happy banter playing with the new babies in the house to my husband and father-in-law having a “discussion”. I couldn’t understand what was being said since I hadn’t picked up Turkish yet at the time. It was just LOUD.
My eyes widened, my stomach twisting and knotting like it always does when I’m anxious. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to move to this island! Oh God, what did we do? Why did I quit my job? Why did we move out here to take over a family business?
After my husband and father-in-law’s apparent argument ended, my husband turned to me and smiled like nothing had happened. I eyed him quizzically. What’s wrong? I mouthed. He stared at me blankly, apparently having no idea what I was talking about.
And so was my first lesson in island living. People here are LOUD – plain and simple. That’s how they roll. I haven’t pinpointed the exact reason, but I have a few theories:
Why are islanders louder than Americans?
Theory 1: It’s way hotter and everyone is annoyed.
Gone is the luxury of central air-conditioning. We sweat and glisten like all of Mother Nature’s other creatures – all while trying to accomplish the everyday business of living in the human world. And it gets freaking irritating. Take a moment and think of any dreaded chore – cleaning the house, cooking dinner, walking to work in a hurry – now add in extreme heat and the buckets of sweat that accompany it. Kind of makes you want to yell in frustration, doesn’t it?
Theory 2: There are fewer walls on the island to contain the volume.
Now hear me out. I think this theory actually makes sense. It’s somewhat scientific, considering how sound waves travel and bounce off of objects. The weather is more temperate here so people live and hang outside more. There are far fewer doors and walls surrounding us that trap noise. This means that people can shout, speak up, speak out, and it won’t bother the table beside them. Less walls = less bouncing of sound waves back to us = people yelling
Theory 3: Masculinity is tied to being the biggest – and most amplified.
Just like it is in the Animal Kingdom or your favorite Godfather movie, the patriarchal system on my rock is alive and well. Some men prove their masculinity by being the loudest and having the last word (we women ignore them). All that testosterone makes things noisy around these parts.
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The loudness factor is definitely real here. My husband, for one, seems to be yelling constantly whenever he’s in the midst of happy banter with his buddies. But as soon as he switches to English, he’s the mild-mannered, chill guy I’m used to. This is across the board what I have witnessed all around my rock. Perhaps it’s the heat? The lack of walls? Excess testosterone? Who knows. But I have finally gotten used to it. My voice even elevates a couple of octaves now too when I break into my Turkish island-speak. And you know what? I kind of like it. It feels pretty good sometimes.
Who said island life was supposed to be quiet anyway?
Do people tend to shout in conversation on your rock?