A day of smells

What does a typical day in North Africa smell like? Well, this is my day in smells:

  • the cold of the morning outside of my blankets
  • the bathroom: a strange mingling of soap, wet, and a scent that creeps up the drain overnight
  • the sweet of a clean kitchen until I open the refrigerator and catch a whiff of leftovers with a hint of aged dairy
  • outside the front door, there is a deeper cold smell mixed with the trash that cats have been sorting through during the night
  • and speaking of cats, their odor lingers despite their absence–not overwhelming, just there
  • walking past several men’s cafes guarantees a pair of lungs full of cigarette smoke
  • exhaust fumes from cars, taxis, and buses
  • the smell of used taxi seats partially covered by an air freshener and the cold
  • trash, fumes, and the sweet citrus of the orange trees on the walk from the taxi to school
  • the faint smell of gas from the lounge heater
  • wood smoke seeping out of a nearby house
  • food cooking in the cafes mixed with the ever-present cigarette smoke and the scattered trash
  • rotting fruit rolling along the sidewalk, kicked and trodden upon by passersby
  • garlic and chicken for lunch and consequently garlic on my breath after lunch
  • exhaust fumes and the sharp stench of urine on my walk to the park
  • the lovely freshness in the sweet acres of green and water: herbs, damp dirt, falling leaves
  • drifting in the open taxi window on my way to teach English is cigarette smoke, meat cooking on open grills, smell of humanity, and exhaust fumes
  • the pungent scent left over on the school desks of my classroom: what I imagine to be from unwashed hands
  • dry erase markers
  • mixed scents emanating from my junior high students: perfume, body odor, energy
  • and as the darkness falls, so does the cold, again suppressing the daytime scents
  • but there is still a damp that hovers in the air
  • and there is still the soap scent lingering on my sweatshirt as I cuddle up to study Arabic before bed
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