ruminations on odoriferousness
the great thing about smells is they transport you to a completely different time and place in your life. like how sniffing a textbook takes you back to middle school. like when i get home from a visit to my parents house and open my suitcase; their aroma wafts out from all my clothes. ziggy and i breath it in deeply. or how burning garbage always reminds me of my childhood in colombia. i smile every time i smell it. i’m not sure what else can carry me back to this place. since i’m generally emotionally blocked, i hope i’m forced into it often. as my time here is winding down and i’m gearing up, i force myself to think about what i will miss most. this is my own cognitive behavioral therapy to help thaw my cold heart.
the noise and the ease of street life. even when i went home for christmas, the quiet threw me off. there was no honking, yelling, laughing, dog fights, cat fights, kids screaming, merchants pedalling goods, or, worst of all, music. people tend to live outside here and it makes a world of difference. it fosters communal exchanges and community.
it will take me a bit to adjust to the fact i cannot walk out my door and stroll a couple of blocks to find coffee, avocados, photocopies, public phone, whatever; i cannot walk to san andrecito, the little street that has everything, describe what i’m looking for and have someone excitedly run off to find it; i cannot sit on the beach and start yelling “coca cola!” “agua!” “arepa!” and have someone sell it to me. i will have to go back to the overly structured and regimented way of selling and purchasing goods and services. which just leads to colder and more boundaried interactions. there’s no haggling, there are no jokes about prices or the quality of what’s being sold. there’s just a price tag and a register. those big box stores just box us all in.
i will miss the little old man on carrera quatro sitting on a chair with his weight scale and a handmade sign that says, “control de peso.” he’s not selling a weight loss product. you just weigh yourself. the man’s a genius.
i will miss catching and getting off a bus wherever i please. buses with names like “dios esta conmigo,” “the thrasher,” or “cannabis.” buses where you usually have to ask the driver to turn the music down. i will miss the ride to rodadero where people get on just before we enter the hills and there are generally no stops, to sing songs for money. everyone applauds; community and laughter. i will miss the drivers who let them get on for free.
once two little boys with lollipops in their mouths stopped the bus and asked the driver if they could get on for half the price.
“entonces, porque no tienen el dinero?” el conductor asks. questioning the boys’ lack of funds.
“pues, yo tengo, pero el no.” only one of them has enough.
“aja, y porque dejaste que tu amigo compre ese bon bon? no me pareces muy buen amigo.” he questions the thought process behind their candy purchase. the whole bus laughs and the boys get on. the driver takes off like a maniac, music blasting. an old man gets on, rifles through his pockets, and only produces half the fair. he tells the driver he should get off because he can’t pay. the driver asks for whatever money he has saying, “no te preocupes, esos pesos no me van hacer a mi mas pobre ni a ti mas rico.” we all agree. he takes off again. an older lady asks to get off but the driver doesn’t hear her over the music. we all whistle and yell for him to stop, “parada, señor!!!” she curtly informs him she wanted to get off like two blocks before.
“anda! perdoname señora! me perdonas? oye, me perdonas?” he asks for her forgiveness.
“pues, si no estuvieras tan embalao no hubiera pasado!” she castigates him for being so coked up and gets off.
“no me perdono.” he seems genuinely sad. and we all laugh. together. with the smell of burning garbage all around us.