When we first lived in Nicaragua, before the earthquake, my brother and I had to catch the bus to school at the entrance to our driveway on Carretera Sur. Since the drive popped out in a narrow space between two walls, one of us had to stand there and wait for the bus – or it wouldn’t see us and wouldn’t stop.
The problem was there was this big tree – right there, splitting our driveway at the entrance to the highway. It would bloom all the time – covered thick with bright yellow blossoms. These would fall and form a carpet under the tree. It looked great- the blossoms a colorful scene of yellow against the green of the leaves, the brown of the bark, and the dark gray tarmac of the drive and highway.
But the blossoms would rot in the tropical heat. The sweet-smelling flowers would decay into a sickly foulness that was impossible to stand. The smell was unbearable. My brother and I would take turns waiting under the tree, watching for the bus while our sibling stood well back up the yard in the fresh air, until we couldn’t stand it any more and then switch places. When it was really rank we would have to hold our breath and would trade off every minute or so until the bus rumbled up.
I thought of that as I sat at the Farmer’s Market. The central passage, around the La Marketa Café, is lined in trees and the trees were in bloom. They were thick with white blossoms which were falling like a dusting of snow. A thin layer covered the ground, stirred up into tiny white flowery tornados whenever the wind circled into miniature cyclones coming around the corners of the building. They were beautiful.
And best of all, they didn’t stink.