Above: Dominican dancers in front of Alcazar de Colon (Columbus’ palace) in Santo Domingo.
Last Saturday was a busy day, as Saturdays usually are. We spent the afternoon bike riding in the park after running some errands, waiting for my son to finish Science Camp. Then we loaded all the bikes on the back of the car, piled in, and drove to the pet store to get my ex his surprise birthday present: a small fish tank and and 5 colorful fish. When everything was done and we were on our way home, it was now late afternoon, and I was thinking about what to make for dinner. First I was looking forward to a little down time. But, as we approached downtown North Miami we saw the preparations of a big event and that is when we remembered that tonight was the annual Latin Festival in North Miami.
I may have been tired but I wasn’t prepared to miss it. So, change of plans. I got a little downtime in but soon it was getting dark and the fiesta was about to start. We all headed over to the town plaza.
After parking our car, we walked slowly to the festivities, the sound of latin music getting louder with every step. The air was warm and humid, so tropical with a slight breeze. Palm trees towered over us in the town square which was bustling with activity. All of a sudden I felt a wash over me and I was transported back to Santo Domingo. It was so much like other events I had gone to there. The stage was brightly lit with a full band playing salsa and merengue. The lead singer was a Latin women in a sparkly dress that hugged her curves. Her backup singer was a much younger Latin man with close cropped hair, black jeans, a white shirt and skinny black tie. In front of the stage were couples dancing. Surrounding them were people picnicking on the grass, some with massive meals in packed in tupperware, other just with disguised cocktails. Every so often one of them would get up and start swaying to the music like they couldn’t hold back.
Around the center of the plaza were tents filled with vendors selling various Latin foods like chicken stewed with rice (Cuban) and moro (Domincan rice and beans).
As we walked around, I was overcome with a sense of deep gratitude that we had moved to Miami. This is why we were here, this is what we had missed. It was no longer practical to live in Santo Domingo but here in Miami I could have a taste of my former life now and then.
We went to all the booths and sampled lots of different food. Then we found an empty domino table, complete with dominoes, so we sat down to play. We heard the band winding down and the announcer saying a new performance was coming up. Then we felt a few drops of rain. We kept playing. Then more rain so we gathered our stuff to go. But, as we were walking out of the plaza, traditional Dominican dancers came on the stage and my children gravitated towards them like the cobra to the flute. Mesmerized, they both watched the dancing while the rain kept coming, harder with each minute. Finally we could not wait any longer, we had to go, so I tugged the children away.
We stayed too long, however, because now the rain was pouring down. By the time we got to our car, we were soaked from head to toe. We climbed in the car and rushed home to get warm. What a tropical way to end a magical night!