norte de La Habana

Miami looked just like I expected it to. There were aquamarine tiles and deco/moderne buildings in the lighter shades of green and pink and yellow. Condos abounded, even A and M live in one, and various transportation systems weave their dilapidated futuristic paths in, out and around the high rises.

Miami, i really felt, was an introduction to my trip to Cuba. With Spanish spoken everywhere I felt like I was already in a foreign country. C’s nanny, Carmen, only spoke as much English as I spoke Spanish and she was the first person I encountered! I walked for miles in the hot sun to Vizcaya (Bizcaya, and it was closed), admired the profusion of houseplants taking over the city, including big-leafed vines that would fascinate me all the way to Pinar del Rio. I encountered the coral-based limestone, Beaux Arts and some art deco. Of course, there is much more modern architecture in Miami than it’s older southern counterpart. it was also in Miami that I had my first café Cubano, or Cafécito as it can be called. thick, frothy, strong, and sweet, I sipped the espresso at the counter while i read another page of Cuban history. I had much to look forward to.

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Interestingly, Miami is also a seat of historic preservation. In 1976 Barbara Capitman spearheaded the movement to preserve the art deco, mediterranean revival, and MiMo (miami modern) style buildings that comprise the beach area. The Miami Design Preservation League was formed and National Register Districts were followed up with local designation and protection. I read all this over an expensive coffee in a diner (though appropriate, the diner was not authentic as it was transported there from PA) while it poured, turning the beach’s bright colors gray and slightly depressing the menagerie that paraded the sidewalks. Then I hoped back on a very off-schedule bus that made Marta look like a dream come true and headed back to Brickell.

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