We had visited an exhibition on the Cuban Diaspora, and wanted to visit Little Havana at night, and have dinner there.
The main street is 8th Avenue or Calle Ocho, on which there is an array of Cuban businesses, bars, clubs and restaurants.
After our meal at a Mexican Restaurant called El Taquito, we walked down the street to wait for a bus back downtown.
There was a little spot where a lot of older Cuban men were congregating and conversing. There was no female in sight amongst the group of elderly Cuban men.
While waiting for a bus back to the city centre, the same man who had spoken to us on the bus was at the piazza conversing with other Cuban men. He came over to stand with us at the bus stop, and asked us some questions such as where had we eaten, and where were we from?
He was friendly and talkative so we took the opportunity to ask him some questions too. He was very open, and told us that he came to the USA in 1962 as a boy. He has never gone back to Cuba. He said that now, Cubans who left can return, but before, it was not possible. He said that when his mother and father who were still in Cuba died he was unable to return for their funerals. He said now he has no family there, and no reason to return, either. He said he does not want to go back to Cuba because “it is not free”, “there is no freedom”. I felt lucky to be able to have that conversation with him.
There were U. S. sponsored “Freedom Flights,” which brought thousands of Cubans, many of whom were children, to Miami. There were more than 3000 "Freedom Flights" by 1973 when they were ceased, and 150,000 Cubans had arrived in the USA on these flights. Many Cubans went to Miami, and many settled in and around Little Havana.*
located on calle ocho in the heart of little havana is the art of freedom cafe and art gallery. the art of freedom is a combination cafe, nightclub, and art gallery promoting latin american art, music and culture. a very interesting place to visit in the little havana area of downtown miami.
Rumba on 6 is an event that is dedicated to preserving some of the traditional forms of Cuban music including son, guajira, rumba, and Latin jazz. Rumba on 6 features some of the best Cuban musicians in the business. Famous conguero (conga drum player) Daniel Ponce is a frequent guest along with the group Conjunto Progreso, a nine-member group that really gets the house rocking.
Many Miami visitors only get to see the Miami you read about in the tourist guides, they just pass through on their way to the Keys or spend some time here before or after a cruise. These people are missing the fun and adventure of exploring the largest Latin city in America.
These guys tell you everything you need to know! The best Miami travel site!
Little Habana would just not feel right if it didn't have some sort of flamboyantly anti-Castro monument. Luckily, the eternal flame commemorating the individuals who lost their lives during the Bay of Pigs invasion fulfills this requirement. The memorial stands prominently in the heart of Little Habana, with Cuban and American flags on either side of the flame. There are also statues of the men who Castro's government claimed were terrorists but the Americans recognized as failed Freedom Fighters. It's an interesting memorial to one of the few hangovers of the Cold War, one that still draws tourists and interested or curious visitors to have a closer look. The sculptures themselves are quite interesting, with one dedicated to an artist and the other, a lifesize soldier, commemorating the actual combatants who fell in action.
There's not much of a tourist draw for this one specific park, but it is nonetheless a pretty neat attraction in Little Habana. Máximo Gómez Park is also known as the Domino Park, because this is where people come to play dominoes, just as they did in Cuba. Of course, there are more than just Cubans here now, although the general rule appears to be that you must be above the age of 65 to sit at one of the tables. The park is typically Calle Ocho: there's a large mural, a bronze bust and lots of old Cubans talking loudly in Spanish and playing dominoes. It's a great introduction to Cuban-American stereotypes (of the more positive kind) and one of the most explicit and obvious displays of the preservation of Cuban culture in Miami.
I knew that Little Havana (or Pequeña Habana) was a must-see part of the city, but I didn't really know where to go or what to ask for when I hopped into a cab. My driver, a 90-year old Cuban man who was incapable of making his car go more than 50km an hour, decided that I should go to Calle Ocho and 12th, the heart of Little Havana. It was a great choice, as this is the part of the neighbourhood that is most colourful and best showcased as the heart of the Cuban Community. Contrary to what I thought, and probably the rest of the state of Florida, Calle Ocho doesn't have the feel of a tourist trap. Quite the contrary, it still feels like a colourful, vibrant neighbourhood where a group has managed to keep its collective identity strong and dynamic. The area is filled with murals and monuments commemorating the resistance to Castro's régime and the belief that Cuban-Americans will "liberate" their country. There's also ample evidence of the preservation of that other great aspect of Cuban-American culture: food. Bodeguitas and coffee shops abound, and passers-by can get cups of Cuban coffee at walk-by windows. It is nearly impossible to go hungry here, although there is obviously a distinction between the good places and the bad ones. One world of caution, of course, is that the area's likely not all that safe at night. I saw a take-down by police outside of Casa de los Trucos (House of Costumes - although truco means trick in Spanish) at 3PM.
This is your chance for tasting the diversity of Miami and gain invaluable knowledge on its culture and architecture as you stroll down the Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) while tasting some of the most delicious foods. La Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) gets its name from the bustling thoroughfare of Miami's Little Havana, where old Cuba and contemporary America coexist. Learning about Little Havana (La Calle Ocho) in Miami through tasting bits and bites of Cuban comfort foods is what the Cuba Bonita Food Tour is all about. Attendees will taste their way through the neighborhood as your local food expert bring you to seven of the locals' favorite spots to meet the people who make them.
Once a year Little Havana's Calle Ocho (S.W. 8th Street) becomes one large block party!
Featuring latin flavors, music and dancing with guest appearances by local and international artists.
Dancing in the streets, taste of international latin dishes and games/prizes which last the weekend.
You can stroll through little Havana's streets, buying everything from local foods and delicacies to hand rolled cigars.
Local restaurants, vying for your business, offer up free samples or good incentives to get you in through the doors!
Don't miss it, it's one big BLAST - Latin Style!
If you carry on walking west on Calle Ocho, you will discover little parks and one of them is the famous Maximo Gomez Park aka Domino Park. It is a meeting point and a club for retirees. The parc is at a street corner and has a roof (to shelter from the sun and tropical thunderstorms). A huge fresco representing the New World' Heads of State when they met in the 1996 Summit of the Americas is the main feature of the Park. Of course, one person is missing from the miral... Fidel Castro. Here, elderly gentlemen in Panama hats come to relax and play dominos, checkers, chess, cards... under the keen eyes of younger ones. Talking with one of the players, I discovered that it is really a club and only seniors can use the park's faciltities which consist of a little buildings where the games are stocked.
Sultry Miami… at the crossing between American, Hispanic and Carribean culture, it’s a city full of rythm and colours. At first glance, it looks like any other metropolis. But my impression while driving downtown was that it looked new and quite sleek too with that elevated train driving around the skyscraper. My trip to Miam being very short, I concentrated it in 2 areas: Little Havana and Miami Beach. First stop: the famous Sothwest 8th street or Calle Ochos as it is called. Calle Ocho is Little Havana’s main street. Since the Revolution, more than 300.000 Cubans have emigrated in the Miami area and now, they are a cultural, economical and political force to be reckoned with. In fact, the Cuban lobby has a big weight in the balance of US policy towards Cuba. And at the local level, the mayor, Manuel Diaz, is from Cubam origins, Once in Calle Ochos, you almost feel like you’ve been transported to the island. Salsa and rumba can be heard from store, little coffee places are everywhere. Take a seat in one of them and soak in the athmosphere. Walk around, you’ll come around grocery stores, colourful restaurants… When you get at the crossroad of Calle Ocho and 13th avenue, also called "Memorial Bouleverd", take a stroll and watch the monuments... some are religious (a statue of the Virgin Mary), some are poltical (a monument to the distrous "Bay of Pigs"). All are celebrating Cuba.
Cultural Fridays (Viernes Cultural) is great for anyone who is visiting Miami and wants to get a taste of Cuban culture. A typical evening includes live music, Cuban dance, and street theater. The evening is also a venue for local artists to show their work. You can buy many beautiful paintings and ceramics.