Searching for a word in Doral

Venezuela Doral arepazo 2
Happy to be here…?

My stay in Doral has been a strange one.

I have enjoyed the familiar sights and sounds of the city, the one with the highest proportion of Venezuelans living in it. The bakeries, the sounds of people chattering, even the way people drive – they all remind me of home.

But there is something else underneath, an unrequited longing, a sadness housed in the uprooting of lives.

The Portuguese language has a term for their particular brand of nostalgia, saudade. It is the backbone of many of that language’s finest music.

But this is no saudade. This is no ordinary nostalgia. It is a look of sadness, mixed with hope, and a dash of resignation.

You see it in the face of the Venezuelan supermarket checkout cashier, who still can’t come to grips with the fact that her country is gone, her hopes dashed.

You see it in the faces of the newly-arrived ex-pats, sharing a guayoyo and getting tips from seasoned pros in the city’s Venezuelan panaderías. You hear it in the entonation of moms and dads, desperately clinging to their Venezuelan accent as they see their kids slowly melting into this culture, shedding their Venezuelanness to become that which Americans call “Hispanic.”

Perhaps the sadness of being away from home is tinged with hope, a (vain?) hope that this horrible episode will be transitory, and that they will be able to return soon to go on with their lives, with the lives their parents led.

A few years ago someone coined the term “frustrachera,” a Venezuelan term signifying the rage that stems from the frustration of not being able to change what is happening. Maybe we need a new word for this I see here in Doral.

Espeyabo, a mix of hope and guayabo, perhaps?

Whatever this is, Doral is the capital of it.

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