I remember sugar cane.
I remember the black bowler hat my great-grandpa always wore, even under the shade of the Guava tree in our backyard.
I remember the wasp in my room one Saturday morning. I went and got Danny, and he helped me get it out.
I remember playing hangman with Danny on the eight-hour bus ride to the Amazon. I had to lean across the aisle and ask my mom how to spell the Spanish words.
I remember swimming in the river in Juncal. The water was freezing and the mosques were relentless, but the little boys swimming naked up river showed us the deepest places to jump into.
I remember eating mango in the car on the way to school, because we were running late.
I remember when Danny and I got locked out of the house. I had to hoist him up through the window so he could unlock the door from the inside.
I remember my mom and Tia Margie washing my hair out back in the brick laundry sink, using Head and Shoulders to try and get rid of my dandruff.
I remember lying down to nap while Danny played Free Fire next to me on my bed, the music and gun fire a somehow soothing transition into sleep.
I remember my mom begging Ronald to drive slower so she could look at the Christmas lights.
I remember the Nicer Dicer. My mom used it to cut up all the fruit she could find in the house and made a fruit salad, and we went around showing off the small cubed fruit to all our family.
I remember when the waitress at our favorite Mexican place on the corner gave us all sunflowers for International Womens’ Day.
I remember doing ballet on my roof with Maddy Gibson; pointed toes and pliés as the hot sun settled behind the mountains.
I remember Mateo jumping up on his front legs to greet my little brother when we’d come home from school. Danny would hold his front paws and dance with him and talk to him, and laugh and laugh with joy.
I remember my mom teaching me to French braid my hair. I sat on my bed while she touched my fingers and told me where to move them, helping me gather strands of hair I couldn’t separate on my own.
I remember the milky sweetness of mango batidos in Juncal, and George, the waiter who was always there and always knew what we wanted.
I remember playing Uno with Danny before bed; five rounds, unless they went quickly, in which case we played seven.
I remember when we had a bat in our cabin in the Cloud Forest. I was on the top bunk and fell asleep hiding under the covers, covering my exposed head with a hat.
I remember shaving my legs while Maria felt to make sure I never missed any spots.
I remember Danny showing me Epic Fails on YouTube, and laughing when I winced at how painful it seemed.
I remember ovos.
I remember kayaking in Puerto Lopez and how much trouble we had getting our kayak out past the waves. The rocks eventually cracked a hole in it, and we had to wave down a fishing boat to come on shore and save us.
I remember the palm tree on the road up to my house. It was short, but its fawns sprawled out over the fence and shaded some of the street. Danny and I made special effort to walk under it on extra hot days.
I remember Danny’s tribute to XXXTentation. He traced images of the rapper off my computer, and then carefully taped them up on his bedroom wall.
I remember my ninth graders dancing in front of the church to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as part of the town Christmas celebration.
I remember picking blackberries with Danny at Mami Elena’s pool. We climbed up to the shed roof and then leaned over the wall, sliding our hands through the thorny branches to pluck the small and sweet berries.
I remember scraping leftovers off my plate into Mateo’s bowl.
I remember Danny having to sit on an upside down pot so he could better reach the table.
I remember the kittens.
I remember making Quimbolitas with Tia Margie. She taught me how to fold spoonfuls of batter into the massive banana leaves she had picked from the backyard so that nothing leaked out. When she left the room, my cousin and I licked up as much of the batter as we could before she came back.
I remember Danny jokingly pretending to throw my things out the window, like my shoes and baseball cap. Once he actually did throw my black marker out into the bushes; I made him go down and look for it, but he never did find it.
I remember my makeovers, courtesy of Maria, and then photoshoots out and around the house.
I remember sitting on my mom’s bed, helping her pick out her outfit for a fiesta.
I remember ten-cent blue freeze pops.
I remember Ronald and my mom painting her bedroom. We spent a long time at the paint store the day before, picking out just the right shades of pink and blue and green.
I remember the three-story tall stuffed polar bear in Lagoona Mall during Christmas time.
I remember my grandpa knocking guava off the tree in our backyard with a long wooden pole, and us all scurrying underneath the tree to quickly gather the fallen fruit before he knocked it again and they came down on our heads.
I remember my second grader offering me his lollipop during class.
I remember the burgers at the Mega Esquina.
I remember my bus, el Campesinor, turning that final corner as it made its way down the mountain, honking, reminding me of a giant green caterpillar.
I remember throwing water balloons and buckets of water off Eliza’s roof at people passing underneath during Carnival.
I remember how my mom always noticed when I color coordinated my outfits.
I remember the pancakes in the Cloud Forest.
I remember Maddy and I trying to make chocolate chip cookies in my kitchen late at night. We used coconut oil instead of butter and pancake mix instead of flour, and our cookies turned out flat and burned. We blamed the altitude and a tricky oven; my mom blamed my period and the moon.
I remember slow motion recording Danny as he did flips on my bed.
I remember post Spanish class runs to Big Donuts. We’d take orders from people and come back with boxes of assorted donuts.
I remember helping Danny with his homework. My mom drew, and I colored everything in.
I remember my Tia Margie helping me cut out a rib cage for my Halloween costume.
I remember standing outside below my bedroom, trying to chuck my sneakers through the open window while Danny tried to deflect them. It was a small game to pass the time until our mom called us for dinner.
I remember hanging laundry on the roof to dry in the sun, and then taking them down by flashlight at night.
I remember crushing up egg shells and sprinkling them in my mom’s plants. Maria took care to give each pot an equal amount.
I remember Danny’s Mickey Mouse PJs.
I remember dancing with Maddy at a political rally for Andrea Scacco, who went out of her way to go and hug us two white girls.
I remember collecting seeds from the blue flowers that grew up along the wall on Tuesday mornings while my mom and I waited for my bus to Spanish class in Ibarra.
I remember one night telling the bus driver which house was mine to stop at, and he told me he already knew.
I remember twerking on the roof with my little cousins.
I remember diving into the giant waves with at Atacames, and everyone yelling when someone swam out too far. Then we’d go for banana-oreo Batidos.
I remember my grandma’s crazy and incoherent hand gestures she used to communicate with me, even when I responded to her in Spanish.
I remember la bendicion.
I remember the bean bag chair at the GCY office.
I remember Danny lying on my bed, helping me with my Spanish homework.
I remember straining the seeds out of our blackberry juice at Eliza’s house.
I remember following Avry, Will, and Grace through the streets of Quito to this random little Arepa place they had been to before. It was so delicious, I don’t remember us talking that much.
I remember swimming in the river at the edge of the Amazon. We’d glide along like crocodiles at the top of the water because it was the warmest.
I remember the woman with the roasted, cheesy corn stand on the corner across from Lagoona Mall. She stood there with her grill, under an umbrella if it was raining, and I’d eat it off the cob while I walked the two blocks to the terminal before I caught the 6 o’clock bus home.