Ni Aquí, Ni Allá
The clock read 2:08 p.m. and there was a steady, pattering rain hitting the plastic, tent-like roof that stood above El Arepazo’s outdoor seating section. A group of men, all around their late fifties by the look of their weathered faces and worn out tank tops or an errant guayabera (1), sat around the table and volleyed “panas” and “chamos” (2) around in an attempt to wait out the Florida rain that came and went as quickly as the smoldering flame of their cigarettes. At any given time, there were people outside of El Arepazo. When the sun was out and the humidity hung heavy in the air, the men lingered and leaned back in the metal chairs set out in front of the restaurant, picking at their “cachapas” or throwing back their fourth cup of “café — marroncito, por favor.” Their eyes wandered, hanging on this pair of legs stopping in for a “cachito” or that pair of arms balancing two trays of “arepas” for some community gathering. When no person beautiful or interesting enough for them happened by, their eyes settled, unfocused, on some point in the distance that lay between their lives in Doral and their memories in Caracas. When it rained, they shuffled under cover and waited for it to end, maybe pulling out a pack of cards or set of dominoes or, if one man felt particularly ready to have a little “bonche” (3) right there, a six pack of beer.