If you want to calm Socorro Santiago down, simply invite her to see nature.
“We are looking for relief. We are looking for answers. We are looking for peace. We are looking for forgiveness. We are looking for another way,” Santiago said. “We are always talking in our heads. I have to do this, I have to do that. I have to plan this. I have to call so and so. I have to text so and so. E-mail, e-mail, e-mail.”
She’s traveled all over the country, particularly Florida and Utah, seeking out quiet moments with animals. She has stood by while zebras raced around her. She has fed giraffes. Santiago has petted hippos and quietly watched geese drop into a body of water. She once held a cheetah, a moment that stayed with her long afterwards. “I have to tell you, it is the most poignant thing. Powerful, quiet, empowering. It’s magnificent. Nothing better,” Santiago said.
The characters in Small Mouth Sounds seek that ‘other way’ through silence. For Santiago, that ‘other way’ can be found outdoors. “Nothing can be more magical than someone taking you by the hand and saying ‘Look,’” she said.