Out of all my friends in Ecuador, I noticed that the one I connected with the most was Candy, and no, I don’t mean the Hershey’s or Twizzlers kind – her name was Candy. Candy simply understood me and was always ecstatic to see me, and vice-versa. We had so much in common that it was hard not to see how close we became. In fact, we became such good friends, that she slept in my bed with me many times.
Before this gets weird, let me explain: Candy was my Chihuahua.
It started on Christmas Eve, when my dad came back from working in the city. He was unusually excited about something as he called us all into the kitchen. I walked in slowly and unsure of what to expect. I figured it was the cake my little sister asked him to buy for Christmas, but I couldn’t see why that would cause him to act like a child about to unwrap Santa’s presents. As I walked in, I was greeted by this rat-like animal who was standing on her hind legs jumping, asking to be carried. I lifted her as she licked my face like if she had known me forever. At that moment, I knew I had found my soulmate.
Candy and I were best friends. In a time when I was immersing into a new culture, I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one. In a weird way, Candy was just like me: we were both, by ancestry, Mexican. I mean, we weren’t born in Mexico, obviously, but that was where we had our roots. And now, we were both living in the Ecuadorian Sierra. It was funny because Candy was actually from the city; we had brought her from one of my host brothers who lives in Cuenca, so technically, she was a city girl. And as much as I like to say I am now a country boy, I know that I will always be a city boy at heart, but you know what? I made it work. And just like Candy had to adjust to the dirt roads and the the privilege of being able to pee anywhere, I too successfully went through that transition.
I miss Candy, as well as my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister. To me, they’ll always be my family, no matter how far away we are from each other. And Candy, well, there’s a special place in my heart for the foreigner in Ra̱as.