The pedestrian bridge is too far away, so I opt to jaywalk across the multi-lane highway, which is fine for the first few lanes, but then I reach the median, and the traffic pours past me. Overloaded trucks and manic taxis and weaving motorcycles fly down the asphalt, and with each passing vehicle, I feel a wave of mist across my face. The air is cool and moist; the smudgy sky hasn’t yet decided whether to rain.
A stout mother struggles down the median, flanked by her two scampering kids. She clutches a baby in the crook of her arm and grimaces, because her hips aren’t made for long walks. The median’s grass is ripped up and muddy, and soda cans are crushed into the dark earth.
When the smell hits me, I blink in disbelief, because I wonder what could possibly smell of rotten seafood. Then I look down, next to my dress shoes, and see the black silhouette of an enormous fish. The animal’s flesh has transformed into something like potting soil, and the white bones of its ribcage arc outward. The fish’s shadowy remains seethe with maggots, which stretch and wriggle enthusiastically through the residue.
I wait with the Tico family for the cars to clear, swallowing bile as the stench intensifies, and when the last truck finally rocks away, the four of us skip across the pavement, happy to get away, and the air clears, smelling only of ozone and diesel.