Posted by: powellsinsantacruz | July 2, 2010

Sights, sounds and … smells

I’ve just got back from my Spanish lesson tonight and feel like trying to give you an online tour of my journey home. I have no photos so you will need to use your imagination. All strapped in? Then in the words of Daddy Pig (from Peppa Pig of course) “let’s go!”

I get on my Micro on the first ring- this is like the outskirts of the real centre of the city. The micro is too small, has music blaring (sadly not a disco micro, I’ve not found one again) so I’m standing up, hunched over, getting a crick in the neck.

I can smell chicken- another of the passengers had bought chicken from one of the millions of fast food chicken places- with names such as Pollos familiar, Super Pollos, Pollos Moderno, Ja Ja Pollos, you get the idea. Through the windows you can see lights flashing by and the city seems packed, life everywhere, lots of people and children all out and about. lots of people are eating.

The traffic is pretty bad, horns are honking as always and people try crazy manoeuvres to get through or ahead of the car in front. Somehow it all works though. There’s lots of different music coming from cars or shops or food places- some traditional south American and some pop music. The city feels full of life.

And rubbish. Someone on the micro finishes eating and throws the packet out of the window onto the street. This happens all the time and is one of the reasons the streets are covered in rubbish.

I change buses further round on the first ring, getting onto the number 6. A few people stand in the road, seemingly unaware of cars going past scarily close to them. The number 6 is like an old friend now, this is the micro we catch most often, but its still packed out.

On the way we head past Abasto, our local market. It is massive and has the Abasto smell- this smell has a personality all of its own. I cannot really explain it- but its bad. Roz and I now talk about other smells in comparison to the Abasto smell- a bit like drains and rotting fruit and gone offness.

On journeys I often just watch and observe- look at signs and what people are doing. It’s a great way of learning how things work and new words and so on. The problem is when you see things you don’t want to. I am learning that I shouldn’t look too closely at a man just standing in the street. Too many times I have been thinking- “what’s he doing? what’s he doing?- oh” Guys seem to just wee wherever. Often onto cars wheels. I was thinking it was maybe a scent thing or territorial, but I don’t think they do it on their own cars…

As the micro carries on the lights get less and gradually more people get out so I can sit down. I can see the park at the end of our street. Nearly back home now.



  1. absolutely brilliant Benjamin! BRILLIANT! if i knew how to do a smiley face i definitely would! that was graphic, expressive, illustrative, detailed…. i think i was on that journey with you!

  2. Happy Birthday today Rozie, from all the Wollmops, xxooxx

  3. ooo. I enjoyed that journey. Thank you Driver.

  4. Hey Ben!

    Thanks – this is very descriptive, and very funny.

    The territorial comment about the weeing made me laugh out loud in my office at work!

    Somebody weed on our house a few months ago… so it’s not just a Bolivian thing. Surely it can’t be territorial, unless I should take it as some kind of challenge?

    I wouldn’t have minded too much about the weeing if they had at least weed on a bit that gets washed by the rain, unfortunately they chose the Ginnal (passageway) bit which is covered over – so the stain and smell stayed there for quite a while. The quantity of urine and height up the wall clearly indicated a human, unless there is a giant dog roaming around Sheffield…

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