When I grew up in Puerto Rico, I went to a Catholic elementary school run by Spanish nuns. Later I attended an all-boys high school with brothers and priests from Spain and the USA. Both schools were factories of atheists. But that is another story. Aside from thinking that Christ was a man with a Spanish accent, I clearly remember the smell and the talk about the smell of the nuns, brothers and priests from Spain. Most of us agreed that they did not smell good. In fact there was an almost popular conception that Spaniards, at least those living in Puerto Rico, did not bathe very often or did not use deodorant, or both. My grandfather was a Spaniard and soon I should be getting my Spanish passport, so I am not engaging in odorous prejudices and I am proud of my heritage. But in a tropical island like PR you need to bathe at least once a day. Some people do it twice. Well, many of our beloved teachers back in the day did not practice the bathing ritual on a daily basis. We even had the phrase that they only bathed on Saturdays. There is historical evidence that at one point, bathing among many Europeans was considered almost sacrilegious. There was also an anti-Islamic sentiment in this posture, that dates to the days of the Inquisition, because Muslims did daily ablutions before prayer several times a day. There were also misconceptions that the dirt layer that covered your body would protect you from airborne illness. Eventually many of those beliefs fortunately evaporated.

Perfumes played a vital role in hiding those ugly smells.

Perfume was not invented by the Romans to hide the foul body scents accumulated through months and sometimes years of not bathing. Perfume dates back to the origins of civilization, 4000 years ago. The Romans, and later the French and many others, merely perfected it. Some of this and more I learned from my lovely wife who is a perfume lover and connoisseur, and from a visit to the French southern town of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. We visited the International Museum of Perfume, the Fragonard Museum and various perfume shops, giving our senses a very exciting smelling adventure. In a previous trip to Paris we also visited the Serge Lutens  perfumery near the Palais Royal in Paris.

Petra has a very developed and sophisticated sense of smell. She also smells wonderful every day. Sometimes she might wear two different perfumes in one day, one for daytime hours, another for night time. She might also switch to a different perfume based on what she’s wearing. I like to smell her every day:)  Of all the perfumes you see below, I use three of them, the rest are hers and she knows them all quite well. I have learned many nuances of perfumes and my nose is slowly getting trained to distinguish among top, middle and base smells or hints of a perfume.

Enjoy the photos and video from the world of perfumes.



  1. First, I can see that assembly line work, a stinky job, doesn’t smell better or engender smiles any better just because it’s a perfume assembly line. The poor kid looks like he’d rather be anywhere else…

    Second, I thought the baths were invented by the Romans not the Puerto Ricans.

    Third, a tip I learned living in Spain and riding the trains. Put a large dab of your favorite oil of X in the crease of the elbow that you usually use to hang onto the poles on the subway. This places the smell you like right where your nose needs it to be when you want a whiff to overcome a smell (like those you mentioned) that you don’t like.

    Fourth, Did you learn why the perfumes are so bloody (excuse my English) expensive? Does it have anything to do with those bottom, top, and middle smells you now can distinguish?

    Fifth, What is the proper amount of perfume to use and where should it go so that one doesn’t create a pepi le peu (the cartoon skunk) sensation of a long wafting trail of odor that linger way too long after the person has passed by?

  2. I was here when I toured France. It was really interesting to see all the perfumes and how they bottle them.

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