Little Havana is a district within Miami filled with cigar and tourist shops lining painted streets.
Every few minutes a tourist bus stops in front of Domino Park where around 100, mostly older Cuban men, play dominos under large canopies. It’s fairly small and crowded with almost every seat filled with people playing, an occasionally person watching, and a consistent group of people walking around the perimeter of the park spectating and taking pictures.
Taking travel photos is always difficult for me because I never want to treat someone’s home as a spectacle. I cringe when I see photographers treat someone’s everyday life as a breaking news event without establishing any respect. My style is to make the subjects comfortable with my presence, or at least grow tired of caring, rather than barging in without the introduction. Developing this type of relationship takes time, which I don’t have a lot of while traveling. I decided to sit on one of the benches in the park with my cousin and just take the moment in instead.
Before leaving Little Havana, I noticed a group of men playing dominos in an air conditioned barbershop away from tourists.
Tonight, my cousin dropped me off in the Wynwood Arts District to explore and take photos for a few hours. Wynwood is an industrial area full of concrete warehouses, chain link fences, and neon signs. Some parts on the outer edges reminded me of scenes from Grand Theft Auto.
The buildings are covered street to roof with colorful murals. There are coffee shops, boutiques, and trendy stores including Warby Parker.
Sunday night is busy with locals attending a street art festival and tourists photographing the walls.
I’m wearing a black tank top and a fitted black skirt. After about 30 minutes, I’m covered in sweat and feeling dizzy. I go to the Panther Coffee Shop to cool off.
The line is out the door and every seat indoors and outdoors is taken. I’m in between a 20-something year old woman who works at the shop and a talkative artist looking for a quick coffee after being awake for over 24 hours.
The artist asks either of us if the coffee here is good while pulling out a five dollar bill from wad of cash he had made from the art festival. “Do you think this is enough for a coffee?” He asks me.
“Do you think they would hire me here?” He asks Nicole (the 20-something woman in front of me). He says he will list her as a reference on his application.
We both smile and agree with him politely as he asks unnecessary, but contextually appropriate questions.
I order a plain ice coffee and find a chair outside next to a Spanish speaking family.
The rest of my time in Wynwood is spent in a boutique selling handmade Mexican clothing. The girl who works there recommends a thrift store and asks about the Midwest, originally confusing the geography for the Arizona desert.
The sun starts to set and I call my cousin to pick me up. I wait at a corner next to two men selling fresh coconut water out of the bed of a pickup truck. People are constantly stopping to buy water and take pictures of the men and a child with them. At one point, one of the men does a headstand on top of the pickup resulting in half a dozen people pulling out their phones and cameras to capture the stunt.
A few minutes later my cousin arrives and I run across the road, climb into her SUV, and we drive back to the apartment.
I arrived in Miami late last night for the first time in nine years. Today, we went to South Beach to hang out with some of my cousins friends and enjoy the beautiful weather. I love the beach, but am too restless to sit in the sand for more than a few minutes, so I went and explored the beaches. I love the color on the beach. The natural colors, like the blue waters and white sand, but also the colors beach goers have added like the rainbow colored umbrellas and lighthouse inspired lifeguard stations.
Near the end of our trip there was a flash storm that kept us huddled under our beach tent. The last photo was our view of other beach goers hiding under their umbrellas from the strong winds and rain.
This trip has no schedule, other than that I arrived on Friday and will leave on Tuesday, so I don’t know what my next post will look like. I know that I’m interested in the art deco architecture, the colors, and the South Florida climate.
I look forward to brunch every week. I love waking up late and taking time to enjoy my morning on the weekends because my weekday mornings are so rushed.
Sangbin generally ops for a healthier breakfast, while I always go the french toast or eggs/bacon/toast route.
Growing up, my family and I made scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast Sunday mornings. Recreating this meal with Sangbin on the weekends is comforting and delicious; two components to a great tradition. :)