Familiar Smells

One of the first things that any traveler arriving into Mexico City’s International Airport will experience is the smell of the city.  Passing through the cabin doorway and into the  jet bridge, one’s nose registers a wealth of scents, from the familiar pang of jet fuel and distant, musty cigarettes smoked by ASSA employees on break, to exhaust from the vehicles on the airport roadway and local highways, to the more exotic aromatics from partially-covered sewers and various complementing air fresheners.  But I should be clear: the air in Mexico does not stink.  The smells that greet the traveler are the smells of Mexico; foreign, enticing, and romantic.  They are the smells of the life and work and play and business that occurs every day on every corner; and the mélange of odors and aromas stimulates both the senses and imagination.  Once, just after arriving, I swore that I smelled pork skin, fresh from hot oil.

Now, that I have left and returned, it’s the smell of the city that greets me; it welcomes me back, familiar, like the smell of pine cones and spiced candles.  It’s this smell that reminds me of being here.  Yet, it is only on these special occasions, when I have just returned, that I experience it; as after a few moments, the senses always adjust, and one can no longer pick out the unique scent of the city.  It seems a strange thing to say, but sometimes what I look forward to most when I travel is the arrival back home.


México, D.F.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: