Sniff, sniff

In talking with my twin brother Andy and his wife Kori last night
, Ian and I realized that we have not done a post of the “smells” of Kenya. There are some things here that after a week or two, you just start to take it for granted and you forget how unique or different it is.

That is the amazing ability of the mind….to filter out routine or non-threatening stimuli so that your mind can remain alert for new and possibly threatening stimuli. I started an amazing book before I left that talks about this: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dogby Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Was-Raised-Psychiatrists/dp/0465056520. The book talks about the effects of trauma on children (and people for that matter) giving true life case studies. It has a bit of everything….neurology, psychology, funny, sad.

Anyhow, back to the topic of smells. Everything here smells stronger. Whether it is the pollution, or trash being burnt (that’s how most people get rid of their trash…remember my horror of Lucy’s burning diapers wafting in my window), or the trash just sitting by the side of the road,

OuterRing Road Nairobi
or Jikos cooking lunch/dinner (a  jiko is a ceramic container held in a metal frame that utilizes charcoal, or another heat source for cooking), or body odor (yes, American are obsessed with smelling clean compared to anywhere else in the world), or the smell of raw sewage (we are SOO lucky to have the city sewer line run right through our property) when the main pipeline gets backed up, or the many smells that emminate from a herd of cows or goats walking down the highway by your car Just goats...,

or untreated industrial waste water, or chemicals used on fields.

There is a constant barrage of smells coming at one here, and after a while, the mind tunes them out and you stop smelling them.

We discovered that this was happening when Ian noticed that he was having to wear about 5 sprays of cologne every day rather than the usual 1 spritz it would take at home. He has to use that much just to compete with all of the other smells that are assaulting the nose on a regular basis here.

We had to laugh at the fact.

That and the fact that if a Kenyan (Ok, not every Kenyan, but most) rides in the car with us the smell of B.O. lingers for a LONG time. But geez, you can’t blame them…most of them hardly have enough money to make ends meet let alone worry about buying and applying deodorant.

Ian says he kind of likes the smell of B.O. here. Figures. If you know Ian, it wouldn’t surprise you that he says that! It just gives him the opportunity to try “something new” and go on another deodorant fast.

Chris Livingston: no cancer from deodorant aluminum for Ian.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Natalie on June 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Ian wears cologne?!?

    Reply

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