Ten years ago I got married. I married a Venezuelan girl who is now – well let’s be honest, not a ‘girl’ any more than I’m still a ‘boy’. We were young, life was there in front of us, hearts full and bank accounts empty – and no four year old eating dry cheerios in front of Rescuebots for us to worry about. Her country had not yet collapsed – things seemed easy. Our wedding was a cool hodgepodge of folks from all over; because we were from all over. Venezuela, Argentina – life in small-town USA to great wars in foreign lands; pastors and business people and those who know no religion. No big names, we are not famous; real people living real lives.
Fast forward through the wars (for me three, maybe four depending on how you count them); I found out just recently through my wife that some of the folks who attended our wedding – immigrants to the US from Venezuela, and her cousins – have decided to say “Damn the torpedoes” and jettison a life of construction or office work or cubicle-hell or whatever they were doing and plunge into a scary unknown; despite the fact that they are no longer children and that there is no safety net.
They have opened a restaurant.
AquaBrew, in San Marcos Texas just outside of Austin.
Those of us born in America sometimes take for granted our epic cities and wide open spaces and political systems, our free society that always seems to readjust from its excesses – leaving way for free loving men to pursue that which makes them happy; and “(…) secure the blessings of liberty”. Yes, I think I read that somewhere. America has always been there, generation after generation. This is an assumption, of which we Americans are guilty – not in the bad way, but as people who constantly fight for our liberty before it’s too late, and reap the benefits of our societal tradition in freedom. It’s one of our greatest characteristics. For those who are forced to know what national failure looks like, who have watched their countries turn against them suddenly and deliberately, there are no more assumptions. Syrians watching their ancient metropolis of Aleppo reduced to rubble by the Russians and Assad’s barrel bombs. Paris as an occupied city, for the first time since the Second World War. And yes, a kidnapped Venezuela that committed suicide to escape. For folks who witness the madness firsthand, following their dreams is even harder and scarier.
AquaBrew is one page in the epic novel written by indomitable folks who have found their way to our shores, refusing to let the collapse of their country be the overarching narrative of their lives. Novels and novels and more of resilience that are part of the wonderful library of American history and prosperity. We owe them honor and we owe them respect. We do not however owe them business, not that they think we do. That they must earn themselves. Because that is the American way! You want to know how you, who are perhaps not a soldier or an activist, can do your part in that epic fight against the darkness? Hop in your car, drive from Austin or Dallas or El Paso to have a beer at AquaBrew.
Full disclosure, I haven’t eaten there yet. I’m working yet another, miserable African civil war – but when I’m back home we’re gonna make it! To say hi to family, to show off our little boy who isn’t that little anymore and to eat some good food at a place product of the indomitable dreams of Venezuelan immigrants whose efforts must succeed because for them, like for most immigrants, failure isn’t an option – so neither is mediocrity.
If you get there before me, tweet at me what you think!