Fish Market

Lima smells like fish.

When I walk outside in the early morning or later in the evening, I am hit with an overwhelming smell that resembles that of the fresh fish section at Publix. Actually, I don’t even have to leave my apartment to enjoy the sweet stench rolling in from the ocean. Thanks to the lack of sealant in most Peruvian apartments, my windows are not completely sealed. Sure, they are closed, but there are small open spaces that allow for the horrid smell to be the first thing my senses register in the morning.

These small openings not only welcome this smell, but also an abundance and dirt and dust. Never before have I so genuinely appreciated the cleaning power of rain. Since it never rains in Lima, and the city is next to a desert, everything is coated in a terrible brown dust. Somehow this dust manages to find its way into my apartment. My entire apartment requires a weekly dusting and frequent vacuuming. Between the dust and Emmaline's hair, I feel like I am losing the war for cleanliness in my place. I now am beginning to understand why nearly every Peruvian family has maid.

The fish smell seeps into my apartment and wishes me a delightful good morning. In the evenings as I walk to work, the smell returns and accompanies me on my walk through the park. I have absolutely no idea why this phenomenon occurs. Alvaro says that it means winter is coming, but I’m not convinced that’s the source. It’s seems like one of those interesting associations that Peruvians use to describe every weather change and illness. My personal favorite is this on from Alvaro’s mom: “If you drink ice water, you will certainly get an immediate cold.”