My photo diary from Miami
When I’m out of ideas for fancy resort wear, I always default to black, white, and turquoise, colors born to be next to the Atlantic.
I leave you with a poem I wrote on my first trip to Miami in 2006. You can find the Vietnamese version here.
running into Fidel Castro
yo soy una chica vietnamita en little havana =
I am a vietnamese woman in little havana.
the summer humidity makes lovers out of natives and
prisoners out of tourists.
this foreign land ambushes me like a surprise enemy or guerrila warfare,
neither and both
ways to join the republican party here are simple:
jokes the young cuban barmaid with her sugarcane-scented voice,
the saccharine and sunlit smell is unexpectedly familiar.
my home on the other coast suddenly appears and jabs me at the throat.
she is standing too close to me,
pushes the boundaries of my personal space,
tells me about the journey she made across ninety miles of sea
on a pick-up truck – turned escape ship – turned life-saver.
as we both laugh about the fact that only the desperation and brilliance of a third-world
nation would drive its people to make life-savers and boats out of pick-up trucks,
(no, we weren’t being sarcastic),
she invites me out for a night of the latin 3 m’s: miami, mojitos, and mambo,
smirks as she mentions “the dictator” and leans in to kiss me on both cheeks.
se llama maria isabella bolivar
maria is a 1.5 generation immigrant,
waitress by night and chicano studies college student by day:
she embodies the refugee work ethics and peppers her speech with espanol.
maria often feels displaced and seldom laments on her loneliness:
it is hard to relate to the other 400,000 cubans on this soil.
afterall, they are in exile so viva the yankees.
castro is not dead, yet he already haunts.
bienvenido a little havana:
the 23 blocks in the southeastern metropolis of the florida peninsula,
I walk along these streets with this radiant latina,
both of us speaking English,
both of us Vietnamese American Cuban American,
born in opposite sides of the world but wear the same working class skin color and
experience the same anti-lenin protests,
somewhere between resisting assimilation and embracing this common land that never
quite accepted us but brought us together,
we were on our way to connecting as we reach
the colorful center of town,
the artery that keeps the heart of little havana beating,
the official name is SW 8th street but everyone knows it as Calle Ocho.
There, I forge empathy and tell maria about hai ba trung street in little saigon
My easy beach outfit has H&M bathing suit, BCBG ring & sunnies, vintage bracelet, and PJ Salvage cover-up.