Thursday, December 4, 2014


My smell walk in São Paulo City starts with an olfactive exercise of trying to decompose the general smell that is particular of my city. 
Unfortunately the stench of Tiete & Pinheiros Rivers is growing stronger as we approach to Summer, added to the fact that the air is denser and dryer due to a long and severe period of drought. We are facing an increasing amount of dust in the air and also in the level of the city's pollution. The result is a stronger odor of sewer discharge (consisting of industrial and domestic waste) combined with the stench of abrasive metallic pollutants and the smell of a haze of urban dust which is a mix of fine particles of residual concrete, paint, wood and many others materials used in the construction of buildings. 
These 02 rivers with high concentrations of sulfides flow through the city bringing a smell of putrid waste and rotten eggs all together.
It is indeed a very difficult task drift away from that stench, but a trained nose must be succeed by focusing in something else.  

The way I did it was by looking for different olfactory perceptions and experiences and provoking different stimuli dissociating from the nasty stench. 
I set my mind to explore beauty by making the transition from urban concrete to Nature. From gray to green.

Here is how I did it:

An EUCALYPTUS PATH seemed to be the easiest way to find clean air and reset the nose. Due to its deodorizing and decongestant properties, eucalyptus clears the respiratory system and the mind. So my journey started inside the eucalyptus forest.

Location 01: The eucalyptus forest.
It was planted in São Paulo in the end of the 20's and the beginning of the 30's to border the Park and block the dispersion of gases of the avenues surrounding it.
The species planted found today are: E. camaldulensis, E. cinerea, E. citriodora, E. goniocalix, E. resinifera and E robusta.

Walking into this forest I had a multi sensorial experience. I closed my eyes and focused on the crushing sounds of the dried leafs spread all around. The crackling sound under my feet made me relax and smile. I love to crush dried leafs since I was little. 
I reconnected to my childhood.
Hugging an eucalyptus tree is also a mystical way of receiving energy. The secret of the healing power of these trees are long known by Indians, africans, Australian Aborigines, Celtic Druids, among others.

Once I felt my body filled with energy and my mind clean of thoughts I took a long breath to consciously smell my surroundings. The smell of fresh green leafs combined with dried ones. The smell of the decay of humid leafs and soil...the sun warming up the tree branches exhaling a woody scent.
Refreshing, slightly camphoraceus or lemony, the oil of the eucalyptus contains eucalyptol, cineol, pinene, limonene, citronellal ... and 250 of other components. 
In a nutshell it is a relaxing and uplifting fragrance  - A very delicate smell of sauna is spread in the air.

Location 02: Bamboos.
Following the track I found myself surrounded by high bamboos. 
Technically bamboo is a grass. Some are delicate, some are more woody and sturdy. In the park they are simply huge. The smell of the bamboos in the park is fresh, green-grass-y and the dried leafs have the smell of straw. 
Bamboos can have a foul smell if they are infected with fungus and bacteria. I have once encountered this stinky smell, but not at the Park. Here they are healthy and well treated. There was a hint of decay on the ground, but only if you bend your torso and look for it.

Location 03: Agapanthus garden. 
Continuing to walk I found myself surrounded by Agapanthus flowers. Although known as or Lily of the Nile is not a lily. It is a flower from the Amaryllidaceae (Amarillys) family and although it is not a flower of Brazilian origin they are fully adapted to our weather and soil conditions so it grows beautifully here in São Paulo.
I must confess I am crazy about these flowers, so walking in a huge garden full of them, widely open in their full bloom, is a dream come true for me. These purple-blueish little cornets are so delicate, so nicely displayed that all that could cross my mind that day was The Walt Disney Fantasy.
Unfortunately they were not scented, but the entire area had a fresh green grassy smell that was pleasant.

Location 04: Climber plants corner - Honeysuckle/sweet peas and jasmines.

The wind brought to me a whiff of a combination of flowers composing a bouquet. I followed it and to my surprise I encountered Caprifolium (or best known as Honeysuckle) climbers. These are beautiful flowers with the shape of little creamy forks that is a treat to every child who loves flower nectars. Frankly I did not have the courage to break and squeeze the honeysuckles to experience their taste. 
Truth is that its diffusive sensual fragrance shouts one word: Summer! 
It is a combination of a solar flowery bouquet with honey notes. 
The scent of the honeysuckles was such a treat that this journey could end at this point and yet, I felt another whiff of a similar honeyed note coming from a different direction. I turned to my right side looking for that perfume and I found the vines just 5 paces from me: Parallel training vines of sweet peas were neatly planted running like a hand caressing the skin.

Sweet peas have a classic scent of fragrances from the 19th Century.
It is intoxicating, romantic, sensuous in a delicate way.
Although native of Italy it smells very English, slightly honeyed with hyacintenite orange blossom notes.

Next to the vines there are also climbers running on pergolas and fences such as Madagascar jasmines, know as Bridal Wreath (Stephanotis floribunda). 
Its fragrance is strongly reminiscent of true jasmines. 
They are quite big flowers and at this time of the year they are in their full bloom. 
It was a hot day so the scent was really intense, warm, narcotic & intoxicating, sensuously feminine, slightly waxy.
It has tropical smell...different from the Caprifolium, which is more "Mediterranean" or even different of the sweet peas that are so British - vintage.
Continuing to explore the beauty of white flowers I found a path of lime trees in full bloom.

Location 05: Lime trees path.

One of the most beautiful spots in the park is a street with lime trees (citrus aurantifolia) on planted both sides. The scent is so strong and diffuse that you can trace it for very far. The tree branches display little bouquets or florets that are not only a treat to the nose, but also very delicate to the sight.
Rich, luxurious and citrusy honeyed this uplifting fragrance smells like a finished perfume itself.
Lime essential oils have a lactonic and woodsy undertones combined with spicy flowery ones. It smells very tropical due to a coconut-coumarine underlayer.

From all the white flowers I've encountered in this smell walk till now they were by far the most fantastic ones.

Location 06: Lilies plantation.
We can find in the park has many types of lilies. The most fragrant I have encounter were the white ones, or Madonna Lillies ( lilium candidum). 
Sweet, penetrating, heavenly scent flowers that bring a duality of good and annoying, of beauty and chastity.
Its heady white floral note is sensuous and sultry and although beautiful, they are not my favorite white flowers' scent to tell the truth.

Apart from white flowers, the park offers many other treats. walking around I got to a hidden place with a disturbing sign saying "entrance for staff members only". Uf! Disappointing!

Although closed for visitation during the weekend's the herbal garden can be enjoyed outside its fences. The aromatic smell of thyme, mint, lavender, sage, rosemary and other herbs is intense. In terms of quality one cannot compare to the ones I have found in the Mediterranean Region, yet still fragrant.
Fennel aroma is the one that I could capture the most from far. The scent is similar to anise-licorice; it is herbal and semi-sweet.

Thyme was also very close to the fence and blooming.
Thyme contains thymol, carvacrol, cymene, terpiene, camphene, borneol, linalol, menthone, geraniol, citral and thuyanol, besides many more constituents, but with those listed, if you are introduced to fragrances and chemistry, you can understand the aroma of this plant.

The only herb that I was able to reach with my hand was sage, which is in the mint family. Its aroma is very spicy, uplifting, herbaceous, and minty. Needless to say the flowers are beautifully growing upwards like purple sticks.

If you are enjoying this smell walk, please kindly wait for part III!
In the next chapter I will bring more beauty of tropical flowers and scents found in the park!! 


For more articles on fragrances and scents and places:

Smell in the City - Israel 1
City themed fragrances
Hamman - a Moroccan experience
City themed fragrances trend
City of Kyoto by Della Chuang
The scents of New Zeland
Passeio Olfativo por Nova Iorque I e II e III
Miller Harris and Salty memories - Búzios - BR

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