No conversation between tourists in rural Andalusia is as typical as this one:
“How is your B&B”?
“Wonderful – but oh those dogs barking all night, they drove me mad”!
Of course they do. Firstly because there are MANY dogs – someone needs to protect the chickens, the sheep or the barn with farming material, and someone is needed for hunting or herding. That’s what rural is all about: living close with nature and animals. Rural Andalusia without dogs would be like Kenya without wildlife.
Secondly, because this sound is NEW: where tourists would not even notice airplanes flying over in their home country, or the noise of traffic – the radar for one barking dog is already sensitive, so forget about the nightly hymn of a dozen dogs barking at the same time, echo’ing through the valley. “They all seem to start at the same time, and stop at the same time, as though one is the conductor of the orchestra“.
And thirdly… you hear the dogs because you don’t hear anything ELSE. The silence levels in rural Andalusia can be astonishing. There are still spots where there is zero light pollution and zero noise pollution.
It might be an interesting test in your home country: wait until you feel it’s really silent, and measure the noise. You will be surprised: what you think to be total silence, is actually quite a lot of decibels.
The airplanes you no longer hear, the million cars on the roads of Western Europe… you have simply filtered them out. You grew up in it. To you it’s silence.
And then it can happen that you find yourself in the campo of Andalusia and you can literally follow a conversation in a house half a mile away. That’s silence.
It’s the precise reason why so many property buyers here say, even after years and years of living here, to be so grateful, to feel to live ‘such a luxurious life’. For, yes, in Europe in the 21st century, silence and incredible starry skies are a luxury.
The dogs remind you of that.
And, by the way, after two weeks you no longer hear them – and after a year you find that short hymn after midnight to be a thing of great beauty.