What is That Odor?


1.  a : a quality of something that stimulates the olfactory organ : scent

    b : a sensation resulting from adequate stimulation of the olfactory organ  : smell

 2.  a : a characteristic or predominant quality : flavor

    b : repute, estimation <in bad odor>

 3.  archaic : something that emits a sweet or pleasing scent : perfume


Saturday as I was riding my bike to and from the beach there was a horrible stench coming from the ditch at the end of the calle.  I don’t really want to know what it is or was at one time and there will be no further investigation on my part.  All I know is that it smelled putrid and hopefully whatever it was will have dissipated by the time I have to travel that way again.   It got me to thinking of how the winds, humidity and smells have been changing here once again.

The winds are going through a shift so that we don’t know where they will be coming from at any given day or at any hour.  It no longer is blowing constantly from the North as it has since the beginning of January bringing the dry air with it.  The humidity is beginning to rise even though we’ve only had minimal rain this month.

With humidity comes a change of smells around la casa.  I have a nose that is sensitive to smell, likely because my sight is so bad and I need to compensate somewhere.  I’ve noticed that the bathroom towels smell funky sooner requiring changing them more often, which means more wash to do.   The smell of laundry hung outside to dry is one of my favorite odors.  As a child I remember being comforted by the smell crawling into a fresh bed of line dried sheets after a bath.

The bathroom also smelled like it was in the beginning stages of mildew Saturday even though I couldn’t see any.  Hello handy-dandy spray bottle of bleach around the shower and sink.   I also like have a spray bottle of lavender-scented cleaner handy and soon the Lysol will have to come out again to combat the wet weather smells.  I love the smell of tea tree as a substitute, I have yet to find any in Panama, but will be looking again.

Sitting on the porch yesterday morning the wind was blowing over the ocean.  Usually this would mean the smell of ocean but not yesterday.  We had rain showers overnight and later in the morning the sun was shining brightly baking the ca ca de vaca or cow doody in the sun.  That nice breeze was bringing in doody odor not to mention the ca ca that SU had used to enhance some of the garden beds in the yard.  He was being thrifty and eco conscious.  I guess it could be worse at least he put dried stuff in.

Over the doody odor I smelled something else though.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was and asked SU what he thought it was.  He of course didn’t smell anything.  Sniffing the air further triggered my odor memory.  It was miel de caña or molasses.  It smelled like someone was boiling a big pot and I could smell it faintly in the air.  Miel de caña is usually processed earlier in the year and I have no idea where the smell was coming from but the shifting winds wafted it to my spot on the porch.

A discovery that we’ve made in regards to smell is that it takes persistence to find flowers and trees that have a sweet fragrance.  We have two lilies in the garden that we are expecting to flower any day now.  We’ve been promised that they have a “muy bonita” fragrance and we are hoping that the smell will carry.  We also have what I call my “stick bush” because it grew from twigs I chopped from a friend’s plant that smells faintly of rose.  Out front we have two small magnolias and have recently planted two small tea roses to bring more sweet odors to la casa.  The limón leaves also have a lovely scent.  I like picking one and snapping it open for the fresh citrus tang.


Stick bush hips.


A close up of the stick bush flowers.

Smells play a big part of my life as you can tell.  And having a lazy day in the house yesterday gave me some time to enjoy some of the odors in the air.  Later in the evening we had a rain shower that made the air cool and fresh.  I only hope that when we go to clase de español today whatever was rotting at the end of the road has taken its odor somewhere else.


About indacampo

You'll find me at https://indacampo.wordpress.com/ blogging about Panama...and other things.
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5 Responses to What is That Odor?

  1. Allison says:

    Smells. I have had to get very used to different smells since I am a dental hygienist and encounter many different ones. What I remember being in Coronado is the smell on the streets (litter) around the plazas and shops. Occasionally the scent of McDonald’s would take over, but there isn’t a whole lot that will be done soon about the trash, so I am sure I will become acclimated to the Panama smells as I have body odor, dental odor, etc lol

    • indacampo says:

      Ugh, yes. The garbage around the burg isn’t too bad. Except during Carnaval when it’s just disgusting!

  2. Kris says:

    A lot of the time in the summer dry season there is a very sweet smell that comes up from the woods by our house. I couldn’t see any flowers or figure out what it was. Now that it is raining again, the mold and mildew is becoming a concern. You wouldn’t wanted to have smelled our other car which has been closed up for too long!

    • indacampo says:

      And my friend thought I should go and investigate what the gross smell was. I don’t think so… It’s gone now anyway.

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