Oh, what a grand day! Roosters everywhere. Street art galore. Colorful frescoes. Cigar stores by the dozens. Brightly painted storefronts. Lots of whimsy and fun. Plentiful Cuban cuisine. Street vendors selling peanuts. Mojito specials in all the bars. Ice cream! And did we mention….roosters, roosters, roosters? What a wonderful time we had in Little Havana.
So, why roosters? The rooster is important in Cuban folklore, representing strength and power. It is a compliment for a Cuban man to be called a rooster. These rooster statues, all over Calle Ocho, were the biggest draw for selfies as well as regular photos. As you can see below, in both statues and wall frescoes, the roosters are colorful, whimsical (do you see the FEMALE rooster???), and ubiquitous. Little Havana’s main drag, Calle Ocho, or 8th Street, is six or seven blocks of restaurants, live theater, cigar shops, and other retail businesses. Yet with so much art happening, the district felt much larger. We delighted in every part of it, but that may be so because we have been quarantined for a year!
After the rooster photos is Domino Park, which we were eager to see, but it was closed. It is where people gather at the small tables inside to play dominoes, and has been described as the heart of Little Havana. But that will have to wait for another visit, after the pandemic. Following that photo – here come the cigar shops! Lots of wooden Indians on display! In one, you can see a young man in a yellow tank top rolling cigars. Quite amazingly, each one looked like a clone of the one before…same thickness, same length, just perfect. And the man in the blue shirt is enjoying his cigar at an inside table, but we didn’t venture inside to “experience” the smokiness.
You can see in the next photo that even the trash cans are decorated with artwork. They were each unique and quite pretty. The split photo depicts a planter on the street that looked beautiful from a few feet away. When we got close, we discovered the topless dancing women. It looks more like the Moulin Rouge to us, but maybe these types of shows were common in Havana, as well.
The next several photos show some of the street art we encountered on our walk through the district. Just beautiful. We are not sure of the entire translation of the long “cartoon,” but it looks like a very well-endowed woman is found to have….silicone! And then, she deflates. At the end of the street art is a photo of a lovely little patio, which sadly had few takers, BUT it was only early afternoon. There were a fair number of people walking around, and we passed by several tours, but the pandemic is still keeping the crowds away.
The montage of the four Picasso-esque women actually was on….outdoor dining tables! What a delight to walk by and discover them. Following that is Miami’s most famous ice cream store, Azucar (Spanish for sugar). Some storefront, huh? You can see the flavor board. They had many unusual flavors. We passed on Avocado, Chocolate Guinness, Corn, Pigs in a Blanket, Coca-Cola, and Burn in Hell, Fidel! We settled on Cafe Con Leche (chocolate ice cream with Cuban coffee and oreos) and Mulatica (cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal raisin cookie bits). They were very, very good. But, in case Mom is wondering, yes…we also had real food. We shared a Cuban sandwich for lunch!
The last six photos gave us the best laugh of the day. They were taken at a bar with pretty funny signs outside and in (“Bring your girlfriend: 20% off; Bring your wife: 45% off; Bring both at the same time: FREE). There were also lots of Lucha Libre masks, a Wall of Shame, and two restrooms at the back labeled “Confessionals.” Hmm. The last photo is a sign with their business hours, which we also greatly enjoyed. All in all, we have walked through some of these sorts of ethnic areas around the world, and mostly feel they are just a loose collection of themed buildings and stores. Here in Little Havana, we had so much fun discovering something every few steps. It gets a big thumbs up from these two world travelers!