Big Bills in Little Cuba
Every year thousands of immigrants risk their lives escaping Cuba, seeking asylum and a better life in the United States. Some travel in makeshift boats or rafts while others gain access overland from Mexico. However Cubans make it to the United States, most end up in South Florida. Maria left Cuba in the early 1970s, before the mass exodus in the 1980s known as the Mariel boatlift eventually closed Cuba's borders to exiles. She lived briefly in Los Angeles, California, before making her way to South Florida. Joe had a more harrowing experience and didn't make it to the United States until the mid-1990s. He never did reveal his life story or how he was able to leave Cuba; he was just happy to be living the American dream in the bright lights of New York City. After being in the country for five years, Joe also moved to South Florida. Although Los Angeles and New York have thriving Latin American populations, nowhere is there a larger Cuban American population than in the greater Miami area. In fact, Hialeah, a city just north of Miami, ranks second on the list of Cuban and Cuban Americans residents of any U.S. city and Spanish is the most-spoken language. Missing their families and cultural familiarities, Joe and Maria both settled down in Hialeah.
The streets of Hialeah had all the comforts of Havana: the smell of cafecitos, a strong mixture ...