When you live in Miami, there’s a certain Latino flair that makes each life experience just a little bit different, including high school. I grew up in a suburb of the city called Westchester, an area where most residents migrated from Cuba anywhere between 1970 and 2000. This cultural landscape, as you can imagine, has had an influence on virtually everything in the area – from the numerous Guayabera boutiques, to the countless corner botanicas that can hook you up with the perfect harabe for your refriado.
There’s nowhere else in the world quite like Westchester, and attending school here was no exception. Here are 13 things that happen when you go to high school in a predominately Cuban neighborhood.
A pan con bistec was your go-to lunch
Typically washed down by Coca-Cola, unless of course, on the rare occasion the abuelo who ran the lunch truck parked outside the school had Malta Hatuey.
Spanish class was pointless
You got all the conversational language practice you needed standing in front of your locker in between classes.
The salsa club kids didn't play
Forget about getting to your locker during lunch while they practiced rueda in the hallway. You would be trampled over.
Pitbull performed at your pep rallies
Back before he was Mr. Worldwide, he was fulanito from the high school down the street who was also an okay rapper. I heard he got signed with Trick Daddy or algo asi.
It wasn't weird to spot a kid smoking a Cuban cigar
Among the cigarette smokers and potheads that gathered at the far off loading docks before, after, and occasionally during, school.
You've heard enough tragic Cuban exhile stories to fill an entire book
Which is why the thought of people traveling to Cuba for leisure still makes you uneasy.
Guayaberas could have been part of the school uniform
In white, of course.
School dances were more like reggaeton concerts
With the occasional salsa break. The salsa club kids didn't play around, remember?
You attended more than 20 quinceañeras by the end of your sophomore year
If you asked your mom permission to be a dama in one more, she might lose it.
You had at least 5 friends with parents who knew your family from Cuba
Fulanita's mom went to la esquela with your tia in Havana, or something like that.
Forget about getting extra family tickets to big school events
Every other kid already requested 10 extra to accommodate his entire Cuban family.
There was never a need to go home sick
Your Spanish teacher surely had some homemade remedy recipe that would make you feel better by 4th period.
Being late to class was never an issue
Most teachers would let it slide if you were kind enough to show up with a croqueta or cafecito for them.