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Voting in Miami: Pastelitos con Votos

7 Nov

Pastelitos: Pastelitos are a common cuban pastry which can be savory or sweet. They are made with puff pastry and stuffed with meat (savory!), or guava with cheese and sometimes coconut (mi favorito!)

Voting in Miami is very tricky.  The lines are very long (I waited for 2 hours, hubby for 4!) and it can get very hot very quickly -I’m not talking about the weather, either.

If you know a Cuban, you probably know their politics.  It’s Red Republican, 100% and at high volume, but then again everything here is at an elevated decibel level.  So you learn not to take it personally.

But sometimes people can really surprise you.  In my voting precinct, it is VERY crowded and VERY Republican, yet somehow yesterday – I was not subjected to the angry tirades I’d experienced in the past.

I showed up at the polling location at 6 am, and I was the 50th person in line.  Not too bad, I thought.  I’ll be out of here by 7:30, the latest.   It was still dark out, but I was able to find a parking spot.  I had a book, a cup of coffee, and my trusty iPhone to keep me company.

Around 6:30, a gentleman in a black t-shirt began to walk down the line (which was now probably up to 100 people) and began passing out a tray of pastelitos.

“Pastelitos, gratis!” he exlaimed.  (“Free pastelitos!”)  He was smiling at each person, encouraging them to take a pastelito from his plate.  Everyone in line was laughing and smiling at each other – we were just so pleased to see someone be generous for no reason.  He wasn’t from a political party, he just wanted to do something nice for all the earlybirds who came out to make sure their vote was counted.

This encounter warmed our spirits so much, and through our sugar-infused giggles, I had a wonderful two hour conversation with two people in line behind me.  We discussed our families, where we were from (Ecuador for him, Nicaragua for her) and where we wanted to live eventually.  We were careful not to discuss politics and kept our conversation on firm middle ground.

I could gather which way each was leaning (him for Obama, she was for Romney), but for the most part I just really enjoyed their company and was heartened to spend the morning chatting with two American Citizens who had a real interest in their country.  And they were warm, friendly and respectful – I haven’t encountered that in a very long time.  It was a pleasure.

Senor Pastelitos did a good deed that morning, he reminded all of us that we can agree on something:   pastelitos are delicious and being an American is pretty great.

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Funky Fresh

2 Sep

Living in Miami is a strange beautiful mix of culture and class.  For example, everyday I drive by Camilla’s house where people are lined up to get just the minimum to eat, while I cruise in my little truck to my secretary job in air conditioning.  Meanwhile, I get flipped the finger by the douche in the mercedes who is texting on his blackberry while he zooms to his job to sexually harass his secretary.  See how that works?  We’re all around each other at the same time, yet never really interacting. Except for that middle finger gesture.

On Friday we went out to a local watering hole that is located near a college that is very well known and very very expensive.  Hubs is outside with friends talking, when a homeless man rolls up on his bicycle.  Before he can even SAY a word, a student at this “elite” university stumbles out and very loudly swears at the homeless dude, “If he asks for change, tell him to call Obama.”

Now, I will leave out all the racial undertones of this interaction, (homeless man- black; rich kid – white), but I will say that the guy  never asked for a dime.  Rather, he heard the funky tones of the band that night, wandered in and right into the middle of our group.

There were several of us dancing to the funk band in the front of the bar, and all of a sudden this guy walks in, freezes.  Then he puts his hands in the air for a few seconds, before he hits the ground and just starts dancing.

I would say it was a combination of Michael Jackson and James Brown.  Let’s just say, the guy had some moves.

So apparently, this guy didn’t want our money – just our company.  And the room and freedom to get down with his funky self.   He was gregarious, cheerful and wished our friend a happy birthday.

So perhaps he wasn’t homeless, maybe he was just down on his luck – which is why his appearance was so bedraggled.  Perhaps he just wanted some company for the evening.

There is no real moral of the story here, I guess.  Except don’t be a jerk.  Sometimes that guy you think is homeless and is begging for money for crack, is just a fan of funk.