Once upon a time, the Cubans landed and Miami stood still.
A brief introduction to the history of the Cuban conquest of Miami.
Heading down to South Florida? Thinking of Nikki Beach, unbeatable weather, seafood, the neighboring Keys Dolphins, and Marlins that don't swim? That's the brochure available at your local gas station and that's exactly what you get. Period....unless...
Surprise! South Florida offers the most exotic and unique bid of any tourist destination whatsoever and it is not in that brochure.
First things first, though. The City of Miami lies at the heart of a county, namely Miami-Dade County. Thirty-four cities make up the county which is located just a few blocks south of the United States of America. It sits in between Broward County and Monroe, a.k.a the Florida Keys. Miami, for one, and its surroundings are mostly a Cuban-American by-product. It is in Hialeah, though, where the full force of that gracious species known as los cubanos flourishes unrivaled!
WARNING: For what it matters, if your ears are delicate, do not venture into Hialeah. Los cubanos are a little bit louder than your next-door neighbor. I mean, a lot louder.
Fun fact: Cuba is a Fourth World island where time stopped ticking a long time ago. In Cuba, hardly anything resembles the modern world. Thus, its residents and their customs may seem bizarre to the untrained eye. If you venture to the island, use care...a lot of care!
Oh, los cubanos! Them!
Once upon a time, los cubanos were a happy bunch. They inhabited the island of Cuba, an idyllic paradise just 90 miles south of Key West. They believed back then and still do so today that they are the umbilical cord of Planet Earth.
Unfortunately, their fate would change for the worse sometime around 1959.
That year, some Cubans, most of them rich and powerful, were kicked out of their roaming quarters by a loco called Fidel Castro, a.k.a, the king, the horse, that son of a bitch.
For one, Fidel Castro didn't like rich people or anyone else, for that matter, except for himself. Thus, the first cubanos to be shipped out were Cubans with mucho money who one way or the other were forced to abandon their paradise island. They headed North towards Miami. They came by plane and brought with them their culture, customs and, of course, their way of living. That was the first wave. Some wave!
Soon after this first avalanche, in Cuba, conditions turned revolutionary in a blink of an eye, really revolutionary. Powerful Cubans were gone by then, though. Those trapped behind were, well, trapped and, certainly, not that robust financially. But they also wanted to leave the island. And, they certainly did but not precisely by plane. They were impelled to be more creative...extremely creative! Next thing we know, los cubanos started arriving in Miami on anything that floats. The balseros were born.
But, first, the early days.
After setting foot on American soil, the ancient Cuban conquerors catapulted themselves to the very top of the local food chain and customized the landscape accordingly. For one, upon arrival, they changed cartography forever. They re-created streets, avenues, alleys, and everything else to accommodate their colorful cubanisms. Entire neighborhoods were re-branded. Hialeah bloomed and La Pequeña Habana was born close to downtown Miami. Culturally, the change was brutal, too! Tropical music mercilessly imposed its will and Spanish became a must. Spanglish was the new norm!
The first avalanche tweaked politics as well. Some tweaking!
In the process of conquering Miami, los cubanos became el exilio histórico, a social caste still powerful today but about to kick the bucket.
The newcomers were not a merry troop and I sure don't blame them for they'd been deprived of anything dear to them. Their resentment immediately translated into action and los cubanos turned Miami into a virtual political bastion against their demonic enemy, that Castro freak I mentioned above. Sadly, whatever they did to get rid of the revolutionary spell didn't work and King Castro cheerfully died of natural causes on November 25th, 2016.
...to be continued.