1. The beauty of dipping your tostada in to your cafe con leche.
No matter what our background (Honduran or Venezuelan or Brazilian), we’ve all had the pleasure of a nice Cuban-style breakfast, and the piece de resistance is always the buttery tostada, soft and soaked in deliciouscafe cubano.
2. All the “Spanglish” signs arounds town.
Signs that say things like “No Texteando” or “Open 24 Horas” are commonplace in Miami and even non-Spanish-speaking Latinos will totally be able to decipher their true meaning if they’ve lived here long enough.
3. Ordering late-night latin food haunts can be a life-saving event.
We’ve all been there. Had a bit too much to drink at Ball & Chain or Gramps or even Space, and we NEED food. Sure, we could go to the usual 24/7 haunts like Denny’s or even Casolas (the place to go for pizza slices the size of your head). But nothing beats food that tastes like home, which is why we love visiting places like Yambo, Versailles, and Ernesto’s to soak it all up.
4. Almost nothing ever happens on time.
You get an invitation to a party one night. Invite says 9 PM, but you get there at 9:45, not wanting to be the early bird. And when you arrive, you discover the host or hostess is still getting ready. Or worse, they’re not even there. Most Latinos in Miami know this full well and make sure not to arrive till at least 1-2 hours after an invitation. Unless it’s a wedding, of course, because we know the bride and groom have already given us the wrong time so we actually make it before the ceremony.
5. Wearing Ugg boots in 65 degree weather and other “Miami Winter” fashions.
Latinos in Miami can’t handle cold. Okay, that’s an overgeneralization, but it’s a local’s joke that once the temperature drops into the 60s, you’re going to find girls sporting their Ugg boots because it’s the only time of year they can. Considering it’s about 85 degrees from mid-February to mid-December, it’s no wonder we’re all excited to throw a sweater on or even a scarf once the heat wave tapers off.
6. Going to see a friend’s mom or abuela means you’re about to get fed till you burst.
If a friend invites you to dinner at their mother’s house (or their abuelita’s), you know to arrive hungry. Chances are, the matrona of the household is going to stuff you to the gills with rice, beans, meat or chicken, plantains, and more. If you’re vegetarian, you make sure to arrive with plenty of excuses and apologies as to why you refuse to touch abuelita’s arroz con pollo or ropa vieja. She won’t get it, but she’ll usually just try to offer you different dishes till she finds something you like.
7. Why asking someone “where they’re from” isn’t offensive to us.
While it may be a bit of a faux pas to ask someone where they’re from in other parts of the country (because folks might use it as a way to discriminate against you), in Miami, it’s a frequent occurrence. Thing is, we love to meet people from all over and even often pride ourselves on being able to distinguish nationality based on dialect. And when you suddenly find out that the person you just met (or their family) is also from (insert country here), there’s a sudden sense of camaraderie that can’t be beat.
8. You better learn how to dance salsa quick (because you’ll hear it at every special occasion).
It’s not that dancing “comes naturally” to Latinos. It’s that we tend to play lots of dance music at all of our festivities from the moment we’re born until we’re old and gray. Our parents think it’s cute to make the kids dance in front of everyone, so there it begins. Then at school dances, there is almost always at least a couple Spanish songs playing, whether it’s salsa or bachata or merengue. Basically, to avoid a social disaster, we all figure out more or less how to do a quick Cuban shuffle.
9. Traveling to the rest of the country makes you realize you’re more Latino than you thought (causing you to embrace your latinidad way more once you’re back).
Growing up in a Latino enclave like Miami can be a bit sheltering. Here, we rarely endure the casual or overt racism that can occur against us in other towns. But once you get out, you realize how much of a minority you actually are. Sometimes people ask you to more or less “speak on behalf” of other Latinos (though that’s obviously impossible), or they make comments about your skin tone or your “accent” (or lack thereof). It can be a bit surprising but in the end, when you’re back in the 305, you appreciate your culture so much more.