Little Havana: Miami Secrets

Miami has many attractions. The beach. Sun. The restaurants. Night life. The Miami Dolphins, er, I mean, the nightlife. Most of these are well known and sought after, as spring breakers and vacation-crazy vacationers annually venture to the Magic City for one of the best times they’ll ever remember. But for those who want more than just a frozen strawberry margarita or a bucket of beer, Miami is the right place to go: it’s booming with an extreme culture, full of little pieces that make it largely unique and like no other. american city.

One of the “little pieces” that paints Miami with colors is Little Havana, an area of ​​Dade County where Cuban immigrants and refugees found solace from the Castro-controlled regime. Named for the capital of Cuba, Little Havana is geographically very close to its namesake. Also culturally close, Little Havana residents often believe in their roots but have little trust in their former government.

The great thing about Little Havana, or really any ethnic enclave you visit, is that the culture of the country it represents is maintained. Visiting Little Havana is almost like visiting Cuba, but, you know, without the socialism and possible missile crisis.

Walking the streets of Little Havana, visitors enjoy a variety of experiences. From something as insignificant as old men playing checkers to colorful paintings on the sides of buildings, there is culture around every corner. This area of ​​Miami is filled with the smell of cigars, people making coffee, juxtaposed with art galleries, mom-and-pop shops, mom-and-pop restaurants, and the sounds of lives being lived.

Little Havana, in recent years, has been devoted mainly to Cuban exiles. However, in recent years, Nicaraguan and Puerto Rican immigrants have followed in their footsteps and moved into the area. These days, part of Little Havana is called Little Managua, in homage to the Nicaraguan capital.

Little Havana is unlike any other area in the US; its uniqueness stands out even in a place as diverse as Miami. One of the reasons for this is the festive Cuban street festival Calle Ocho, which takes place annually as part of the Miami Carnival celebrations. Free to the public, this festival showcases the pride of the Hispanic communities. As people wear colors, wave flags and adorn T-shirts dedicated to their heritage, food from different countries is served and culturally different music is played. This festival often serves as the spoon in the melting pot of Little Havana.

Spanish for Eighth Street, Calle Ocho occurs in March between 27th Avenue and 4th Avenue, along 8th Street. Famous for being the biggest street party in the country, it attracts a million people. Typically, the festival contains more than 30 stages and hundreds of street vendors, artists, and entertainers. It has been going on for nearly three decades. In 1998, the Calle Ocho festival entered the history books by setting a Guinness World Record for the longest conga line; it was a conga line containing 119,986 people.

Whether you’re venturing to Little Havana just for the experience or to be part of the conga line, it’s definitely worth the trip. Bringing the culture of a different country to the United States, Little Havana is a great way to see that it really is a small world after all.

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