When Tio Victor pulled the carrots out of the earth and shook off loose soil, I knew what I was looking for; the sweet smell of carrots carried me to another place. From the beginning as the train lurched out of the tiny Control station, and I felt the cradle of the rails, I was remembering: the desert landscapes of browns and gold, the fields of mustard and oaks; the hills and then mountains—dry mountains—that stroked a blue sky; the stations and incessant talking and clatter of people; the city of hills with perched houses on terraced banks where cars creeped and braked their way home and back; the sooty air—grime on my face and neck—full of factory smog; bus rides and routes through city streets blending the greasy smells of transport with the grandeur or carved palaces and bronzed statues and arches of triumph. And then there I sat at Tio Victor’s house far from the city—two hundred miles or so—where chickens laid thick brown eggs in the backyard, and water was pulled by bucket from the well; and in the shade of pecans with the dry smell of firewood and pines, I watched the old man in this garden, and I scraped mud off the bottom of my shoes.
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