Saturday, May 21, 2011
Strolling Along Calle Ocho in Little Havana...
Coconut Grove does indeed have a number of upscale establishments all mostly catering to upscale European tourists... and it goes without saying that all these upscale establishments all think very highly of the services they have to offer and charge its patrons accordingly.
Calle Ocho on the other hand is but a mere three or four miles away from the Grove and can be found smack in the middle of Little Havana. This community is exclusively Hispanic and is dotted with quite a number of cafes and tobacco shops.
Calle Ocho is most certainly deserving of its iconic reputation and has a definite vibrant and boisterous feel about it. Also to be found alongside this street is a domino park complete with benches and tables. Senior and not-so-senior citizens gather here to play dominoes all day. Elderly women can also be seen playing alongside the men folk.
The clatter of dominoes can continuously be heard and later seen gleefully being slammed down upon the cement tables. This scene is almost always invariably followed by animated commentary by both spectators and players alike... all in Spanish of course. (ie: "No Seas Burro!!)
Along Calle Ocho are also a number of tobacco shops all beckoning tourists to spend both their euros and dollars on boxes of handmade cigars. The tourists all invariably arrive in large tour buses courtesy of the Cruise Lines.
These buses will suddenly pull up alongside the curb when one least expects it and unload a throng of camera wielding tourists in but an instant. It's always a mad scramble off those buses and it's best if one stays way clear of an arriving tour bus.
The tobacco shops all have an antiquated charm about them and though I am by no means a smoker, I gotta admit that it certainly was an intriguing sight to observe tobacco leaves cut and then rolled into coveted cigars. There were literally hundreds of fragrant cigars lined up against the walls and stacked all the way up to the ceiling.
Incidentally, a trip to Little Havana must include indulging in the local fare. Be sure to treat yourself to a plate of morros and cristianos and platanos maduros. The food is all good and all reasonably priced. Bring your appetite and don't even think about wanting to feed your face another fast food burger and fries while in Little Havana.
I suppose that the only missing feature of Little Havana to make it completely authentic were all those old classic Chevrolet cars still purportedly being driven throughout the streets of Havana, Cuba.