Little Haiti, Miami

Jennifer Kay (The Associated Press) writes about on the charms of Little Haiti, stating that “It’s a short drive inland from Miami’s trendy South Beach and it lacks the glassy newness of the city’s condo canyons downtown,” adding that “Little Haiti has something the rest of Miami is often accused of lacking: authenticity.” She quotes Ashraf Mashni, who owns a convenience store, Jenin’s, in Little Haiti, who says, “Come here and visit and you’ll feel like you’ve got two vacations in one. You’ve got South Beach and you’ve got a Caribbean island—the neighborhood in the Caribbean island, not the tourist area in the Caribbean island.”

Some of the interesting characteristics of Little Haiti that Kay highlights are colorful storefront murals painted by Serge Toussaint; the red flags proclaiming “Welcome to Little Haiti” in both English and Haitian Creole; the pastel-colored shops and restaurants along Little Haiti’s main crossroads; the Caribbean Marketplace, a recreation of the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince; bookstores such as the Libreri Mapou; the Haitian botánicas with its scarves, saintly figurines, perfumes and oils; the annual compas festival; the Haitian Heritage Museum; and the Little Haiti Cultural Center, which offers music, dance, and film events, and recently linked an exhibit of contemporary art by Caribbean artists to the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art fair.

The article features unique places such as the Church of Notre Dame d’Haiti ant its stained glass window illustrating the life of Pierre Toussaint, who has been declared venerable by the Catholic Church, a stage in the process toward sainthood. Kay describes a mural in the church, which “shows important figures in modern Haitian history: migrants, leaving the Caribbean country by boat and by plane, under the watchful gaze of Haiti’s patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.”

Kay also renders tribute to the wonderful Haitian cuisine available at the many restaurants and cafes such as Chef Creole, Lakay Tropical Ice Cream, Moca Café (which offers dancing to live compass and zouk), and—my favorite—Tap Tap, which offers, besides mouth-watering food, mojitos made with Barbancourt, Haiti’s own dark rum. After reading this beautifully-written article, I am ready to experience the many flavors and colors of Haiti in Miami.

For full review, see http://www.canoe.ca/Travel/News/2009/12/25/12267936-ap.html?cid=rsstravelnews

For Serge Toussaint’s murals (and Marley mural shown here), see  http://www.sergesigns.vpweb.com

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