Doing Little Havana a Lo Cubano
By Maria de los Angeles
What does a redheaded Cuban-American, an Irish film crew and one hot TV celebrity make on a sweltering day in Little Havana? No, it’s not some kind of Celtic porn with pork and potatoes, it’s a segment for an upcoming series on Ireland’s TG4 network!
Route 1 will air in Ireland this October, with celebrity host Dáithí Ó Sé leading a travel show about driving all the way from Maine to Key West on U.S. 1. Production company Dearg Films made up the crew.
How the heck did I get involved in this? Well, Ciaran Gallagher, co-producer, sent me a very funny email last April. It started like this: “I hope you don’t mind this cheeky unsolicited email, but I was hoping I could pick your brain about all things Miami.” Ciaran found me via my blog and the work I do at Miami Beach 411.
Fast forward and I found myself meeting a crew of four self-proclaimed “Irish pasty guys” and one hot papi chulo from the Emerald Isle for a four-hour shoot in Little Havana. With the mic firmly adjusted to my bra — having the sound guy poke around under my dress was the most action I’ve gotten in weeks — Daithi and I improvised in front of the camera.
The goal here was to give the Irish audience a quirky and entertaining look at Little Havana: “drop their talk about the potato crop and make them spill their Guinness in astonishment,” as hilarious Ciaran put it in his original cheeky email. So, in the weeks prior to the shoot, I contacted a few businesses and came up with a loose schedule.
Here’s what we did, focusing mainly on the heart of Little Havana between 16th and 11th avenue:
1. Stopped at Maximo Gomez Park (Domino Park), where we talked about the importance of the park as a community hub and noted the signs that say “no cursing, no sweat shirts, no flip flops and no guns,” among other rules.
2. Filmed in front of the Tower Theater, where I explained its architectural and cultural importance.
3. Had Daithi sample a colada, a cortadito and a pastelito de guayaba (coffee and guava pastry) at El Exquisito, my favorite family-owned Cuban restaurant. I discussed the ventanita (little storefront window where coffee is served) as the space for political talk and local gossip.
4. Smoked cigars at Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company, a family-owned business that started on the island circa 1896 and has been making cigars in Miami for over 40 years. Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — I had to squeeze in a Monica Lewinksy joke.
5. Filmed at the Bay of Pigs Memorial on 11th Avenue, where I fielded some hardcore questions about Cuba and the exile experience.
I’m not sure if I turned Daithi — voted Ireland’s sexiest TV man — into a real Cubanaso, but he did tell me he learned a lot during the experience. And if any of my Cubanita vibes rubbed off on him, I’m sure he’s all the more sexier for it.
For the Florida segment, not only did Route 1 hang out with yours truly, they also visited with the Dolphins Cheerleaders (blah!) but made up for that with an exclusive interview of Burt Reynolds in Jupiter and the State Attorney of the Conch Republic in Key West.
This isn’t the first time Daithi and the friendly crew worked together. Previously, they shot two similar series, one covering Route 66 and the other Highway 61. They also made a documentary about country music legends.
Route 1 will air in October on Irish TV, some of which is broadcast in Gaelic. I’ve been promised access to clips so stay tuned! There are few more photos on Flickr.