Travel — Mexico City

The Unique City Sounds Heard Throughout the Streets of Mexico City

In the bustling streets of Mexico City, amid the noisy city life, there’s a distinct and unforgettable sound that can’t be ignored.

Cindy Roaming
2 min readNov 10, 2023

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A scrap metal merchant truck rolls through Mexico City’s Coyoacan neighborhoods. Photo by Author

This sound can be heard throughout the city, especially in the morning and afternoon. It’s a short message that has become the signature sound of the city.

During my first week in Mexico City, when I was still dealing with jet lag, I heard it every morning. Just as my eyes were about to close, the sound would blast from a passing vehicle’s speaker. It sounded like a young girl promoting something.

My curiosity was piqued, and I wanted to know what the voice was saying. Day after day, I tried to catch the words.

One day, while I was taking a stroll in the famous neighborhood of Coyoacan, I saw a truck passing by. It carried used mattresses and a loudspeaker on top. I turned to my husband and said, “That’s the mystery voice I’ve been hearing every morning in our neighborhood. They are everywhere!”

My husband chuckled and explained that they were scrap metal merchants. They were looking to buy used mattresses, home appliances, and old iron items.

I listened carefully to the voice, which kept repeating, “Se compra colchones, tambores, refrigeradores, estufas, lavadoras, microondas, o algo de fierro viejo que venda.” Which means, “We buy mattresses, drums, refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, microwaves, or anything old iron that you’re selling.”

When I got back home, I started surfing the internet to learn more about this unique sound. I wondered why all of them had the same voice and who the voice belonged to.

That’s when I discovered that the voice belonged to a girl named María del Mar Terrón Martínez. She was just 8 years old when her father, Marco Antonio Terrón Aguilar, who worked as a scrap metal collector, used to shout through a megaphone to find items. However, this method was tiring for him. One night, he asked his daughter to say the messages he had written and recorded them on a cassette. They worked on it for four hours, from midnight to 4 a.m.

Since then, that recording has been copied many times and is now used by hundreds of scrap metal collectors all over Mexico. It is very interesting; it all began with a simple, ingenious solution by a father and his young daughter to make his work easier and more efficient, and today it’s not only a part of the marketing tool but has become part of the city’s identity.

Thank you for reading this story ❤

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Cindy Roaming

I write about my travel story, foods, and culture. Currently in Mexico City🇲🇽