1. At even the fanciest of restaurants, there is a paisa cooking all the deliciousness.
There is a great variety of restaurants in NYC; small restaurants with good ambiance, holes in the wall, big chain restaurants, fast food restaurants, nice neighborhood dinners, fancy rooftop restaurants, Michelin stars restaurants, new trendy restaurants, old classic restaurants. But no matter what, they all have one thing in common: there are hardworking Latin American people cooking the food. Yes, even at the Michelin star place.
2. It’s easy to tell you have a Latin neighbor.
It’s all about that beat… as the song says. You just open the windows of your Harlem apartment and embrace that merengue/salsa/bachata coming from next door. You might as well enjoy it and clean the apartment while you have a Romeo Santos song playing, no?
Aromas are an obvious telltale also: If you smell a delicious sancocho, arroz con habichuelas, or empanadas, your Latin neighbor is cooking. You just go next door and ask for some!
3. It doesn’t matter if you’re a construction worker, a waiter, a lawyer, an economist or an artist, from Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador or Mexico… We can all be friends.
It is amazing how — in a culture consisting of so many different subcultures and backgrounds — we all get along as well as we do. Each subculture is unique and yet we are all one at the same time. In my experience living in New York, every Latin American is the same: it doesn’t matter your background, social status, or education, we all become equal. There are no prejudices and we all try to learn from the other’s stories and help when we have a chance. We are all on the same boat trying to figure out life in New York. There is an implied complicity and “good vibe” between us, and we try to act the same way towards other cultures as well. We are the friendliest people you will find in NYC, guaranteed.
4. You’ve become a pro at using your Macy’s card and its coupons.
You have your Macy’s card, and you use it wisely. You know when all the sales are going to happen, so there is no point on buying anything full price, right? But when you get those coupons and there is a mega sale going on, oh my: that poor card gets the use of a lifetime, even if that means buying Christmas presents in July!
5. Listening to “La Mega 97.9 NYC” is an everyday thing.
“El vacilón de la mañana”, “El jukeo”, el Pachá, Tecnotruco, la doctora Claudia Campos are all familiar to you, am I right? And you probably also know Dj Supreme, Dj Bacan Bacan, Dj Alex Sensation. You dance and sing to their tunes as well. Old school radio is still important, and it is a very convenient way to be informed of everything (relevant and irrelevant). How else are you going to find out that at Majorworld you can get a car with zero downpayment and having bad credit? or that Shakira and Carlos Vives have a new song together? The news in 20 seconds? Traffic updates? The tech advice from tecnotruco on how to spy on your partner using your phone, or the sex advice from the doctora come in handy too. You can’t find any of this in Spotify or Pandora (as far as I know).
6. You know better than going to the Meatpacking district looking for a party.
You probably heard it from a friend from salsa class, or someone at midsummer night swing told you, you heard it on the radio, you got a text with a discount… It doesn’t matter, you always know where a latin party is going on. And there are things going on everyday in NYC. So, based on this, you already know that Taj is the place to go on Mondays, the Copacabana/Subrosa/Hayaty on Tuesdays, Solas on Wednesdays, Cache on Thursdays, Salsamania/Cache/Kañas/Mamajuana/Don Coquí, La boom on Fridays, Saturdays you can literally go to any of those, and Sundays is LVG or Jimmy Anton’s salsa socials. But you already knew this, am I right?
7. You are certain that a fútbol match is a synonym for “Latin party.”
Whenever there is an important game, especially during Copa América or the World Cup, we all gather at bars to watch them, rain or shine — Smithfield Hall NYC, biergartens, The Garden at Studio Square NYC Astoria. We know that no matter what the score is, we are going to have a good time, meet people, and share precious moments with our paisas. Is there any sport that brings people together like fútbol? The World Cup is a huge party that basically lasts for a month; trying to leave work early to see the games, day drinking on the weekends while you yell at the players, and everything is essentially planned around the cup. It is amazing.
8. The international aisle in the supermarket or bodega really refers to Latin food.
What do you do when you desperately crave a can of dulce de leche or a can of cooked beans? How about when you need coconut milk to make a coquito, or when you miss your guava juice? Quinoa, Valentina sauce, sofrito, recaito or adobo? Easy! You just go to the international aisle at any supermarket and you will find all these little bits of home. Only in New York City.
9. You know that no matter what, you will always belong in NYC.
NYC holds a place for everyone. No matter what you are, where you come from, what do you do for a living, NYC is a big city and a small town at the same time. It is hard and easy with us. It gives and takes from us. New York City is shaped by us in a certain way. At the end of the day, you realize that this weird, eclectic place where we all coexist and live, is home. You identify with your culture, you embrace your Latin American self, you LEARN so much about other Latin cultures and it makes you proud. You do your best for understanding Puerto Ricans, Chileans, Colombians, Mexicans, Peruvians, Salvadorans, Costa Ricans, Argentinians and their Spanish (you pay extra attention and learn some new words). There are so many of us! You understand that hard work (really hard work) can take you anywhere. You become an admirer of other people who “made it”. You believe that there is a better looking future for all, and you become conscious of how rich is our culture. And most importantly, you understand how significant is to be together, to empower one another and support your Latin friends.