Long before Calle Ocho was a tourist attraction Cubans, many of whom knew each other from Cuba before the Castro brothers took over, were playing dominos "en caliente" at Domino Park. They concentrated so hard at besting their rivals of many years. Years later Calle Ocho got quite a bit of notoriety. Nowadays it's kind of sad in a way, to see busloads of gawkers dropped in front of the very small park for about fifteen minutes to stare at the players as though they are specimens. Their story is so much deeper than fifteen minutes can ever even hint at. Thirty years ago Calle Ocho was still the throbbing social pulse of Little Havana but today it's a shadow of its former self. Many of the Cubans have left the neighborhood and been replaced with other Hispanics with their own stories and history. Visitors from abroad and up North probably would not be able to see or hear any differences in the Spanish speaking inhabitants but to locals the differences in accent, tone, body language, etc. are are sure sign that the area is changing. My advice is to hop off the bus Gus and spend a couple hours walking (especially now in the cool dry season which lasts until May) and have a nice lunch. Bienvenidos!
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