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So this is how it happened … the backstory.

It was Friday afternoon. Here I was, imagining that I would just stay at home with my fractured ankle (I’m in my second month of healing, wearing a boot-cast), even though it was Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays, Little Havana’s monthly arts festival).

A Evening Begins: Going with the Flow

A friend of mine (a fellow consultant with whom I’ve worked) called me and said, “Hey, I’m in Little Havana — wanna grab something to eat?”

Since I hadn’t seen him in about a year (he lives in Broward County), I immediately agreed. We ended up eating Peruvian food followed by ice cream at Azucar, cafecitos at Little Havana Cigar Factory (and an introduction to cigar smoking) and finally mojitos at CubaOcho Art and Research Center.

It was at CubaOcho where I happened to run into one of my favorite fellow Ph.D. students, Alyssa. After chatting over our drinks, we went to Little Havana Cigar Factory and bought cigars for ourselves (we do not do this often, mind you), and decided to smoke the cigars while sitting in the shop’s comfortable leather chairs.

An American Ride … Down Calle Ocho

Soon, as we puffed away, we were joined by two people carrying some pretty fancy camera equipment, who sat across from us.

When we got to talking, they told me that they were in Little Havana to film an episode for a TV show called “American Ride,” which is based on the adventures of a Harley Davidson-riding history teacher who introduces the audience to different places around the world. I told them not to miss certain things about Little Havana and soon they learned about my background and connection to the neighborhood.

Ready to Rumba?

One of the recommendations I made was to not miss the rumba at Top Cigars, but then I remembered that my dance instructor, Marisol Blanco, had sent us students a text letting us know that a TV show would be filming the rumba tonight. I asked the two crew members if they planned to film the rumba.

“I don’t think so — I don’t think it was in our plans,” said one.

“Oh, well then, you might run into the other TV crew that’s going to be there. I know at least one crew is going to be filming it,” I replied.

They then introduced me to the show’s star, Stan Ellsworth, who in turn introduced me to the show’s director. Then they asked to interview me, and I happily obliged, while standing outside the cigar shop (in my boot-cast, mind you). 

I later learned that the Little Havana show will be their season premiere. Learn more about American Ride.

The rest of the evening was great — I even danced to a little rumba (yes, in my boot-cast — do not tell the orthopedic specialist). You can imagine the smile on my face when I saw the American Ride crew entered the store — yes, this was the show Marisol had been referring to, after all!

At one point, Stan joined in a conga-line with other passionate dancers — he was a pretty good dancer for a first-timer at the conga.

Later that evening, Alyssa had gone home but I was now surrounded by my friends from dance class. After the rumba, we wrapped up the night at CubaOcho, listening to one of Cuba’s most famous musical groups, Orquesta Aragon. I watched my friends whirl across the dance floor while I dreamed of the day when I can dance again.

Anything can happen in Little Havana!