A Scents of the City

Day 186 – January 24, 2012

Any day that starts off by opening up the window to greet the day and proclaiming, “What is that stench?”, is going to be an interesting day.

That’s how our Tuesday AM started, with the gently wafting odor of not-quite-sure-what filling our home from the outside.

While my nasal cavity and its attendant nerve endings were unable to identify the odor, I set about to determine its source.

My first option of its location was the least desirable option. I was afraid that the smell, which was beginning to smell like some member of the animal family, was due to some hapless critter having expired right outside our door. A quick scan of the perimeter showed no ex-parrot or other formerly living creature. Phew!

My second option was feasible, but not practical given the time of day. Every once in a while, the smell of barbecue or grill smoke comes in on little cat feet into our abode from one of our neighborly neighbors. However, as it was 7:30 in the morning, I deemed it highly unlikely that the people over the high walls and electrified fence would be firing up the barbie to char something.

(Yes, I did throw in a Carl Sandburg reference. Thanks for noticing.)

In addition, the option of grilling was becoming less likely as the smell was beginning to register in my brain as belonging to the fishy family of odors.

Having exhausted all my options for identifying the source, I asked Ethel, our empleada, if she smelled the fishy, briny odor that seemed to be surrounding the outside of our house.

Si“, she said, “es la brisa del mar“.

Translation: Yes, it’s the sea breeze.


I realize Lima is a coastal city (hence the fabulous seafood including ceviche), but our district of La Molina lies some miles inland from the sand, rocks, and ocean. Despite my obvious skepticism, Ethel assured me that the scent I was experiencing was that of the briny deep and that due to the offshore winds and how the mountains are situated, it does happen on occasion that the smell of pescado, sal, y agua (fish, salt, and water) can make its way up to my nostrils.

Chalk it up to yet another new experience in this wondrous Peruvian adventure.


About sinpolaris

sinpolaris is the psuedonym of a guy who likes to write.

Posted on January 24, 2012, in Difference, Peru and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Seems kind of crazy to me…every time I’ve been near the ocean, I smell sun, salt, and sand…in a good way. Hmmm….. At least it wasn’t anything dead!

    • A second possibility was raised to me later in the day by a friend. She suggested the odor was from the multiple fish meal factories that are located around Lima (mainly in the Callao district) and that on certain days, when the condition is right, the smell of fish wafts over various areas of the City of Kings. On a similar note, fish meal is used to feed the chickens that provide the eggs for local groceries, so the eggs – when scrambles or poached – taste a wee bit fishy. Fun Peru fact.

  1. Pingback: Chips and Fish in Peru | Sin Polaris

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