The Famous Noises of Mexico City

Prior to moving to Mexico City my friend Rose Burillo was briefing me on what I could expect once I made the move. Much of the stiff she was telling me I already had an idea about, but then she made a comment which I was not expecting, and that was about the noises in the city.

Coming from a countryside home, I was expecting the noise levels in my new home to rise a few decibels, but I was not expecting there to be famous noises which I should be listening out for. I have lived here for just over 3 years now and these noises have now become a part of my day to day life. If you happen to visit Mexico City, here are just some of the noises which you can expect to here.

The Scrap Dealers

When the New York Times compiled a list of the most famous city sounds, it included one from Mexico City which has grown into something of a phenomenon. This is the sound of the scrap van as they move around the city, looking to buy anything which you no longer want. Throughout the city you can hear the cry of a young girl’s voice, played through a speaker, detailing what they will buy. This began when a scrap buyer recorded his voice singing the little ditty, and it has since been taken over by most of the other buyers in the city.

Gas Sellers

Many homes in the city still have their gas supplied by tanks which need to be replaced when they are empty. This is why you often see these vans come around with many canisters on the back, all loaded with fresh gas to be delivered. As the gas sellers come around, they walk the streets singing ‘gaaaaaaaaaaas’ in a bass voice, to let everyone know that they are in the area.

Ring For Trash

The city’s trash collectors will not empty bins, but instead roll up in the neighborhood and then let everyone know that they are there, by sending one of the workers out to ring a bell in the streets. This is the way that everyone in the city knows that it is time to get out and throw that trash away, whilst the guys are in the area.


Tamales are a delicious snack which are served on the morning and in the evening. There are many sellers of tamales through the city who will move from street to street and let everyone know that they are around. To do this the sellers will have a small speaker which plays a tune, that basically tells the street there are delicious tamales on their way, which are hot and tasty. These are low cost snacks which taste absolutely delicious.

These are just some of the commonly heard sounds which you will hear when you spend some time in Mexico City, listen out and see how many you can identify.