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Calle Ocho Serves Up Nostalgia In Little Havana

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MIAMI - MARCH 16: Revelers enjoy themselves as they walk along the street during the annual Calle Ocho celebration March 16, 2008 in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The event is billed as the largest Hispanic festival in the nation.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI – MARCH 16: Revelers enjoy themselves as they walk along the street during the annual Calle Ocho celebration March 16, 2008 in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida. The event is billed as the largest Hispanic festival in the nation.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — People who have been to Miami’s Little Havana knows it is a mixture of cultures and a popular tourist destination.

The area was once a refuge for Cuban exiles rekindling the tastes and sounds of a lost homeland, but has evolved into the iconic section of Miami that it is today.

On the neighborhood’s main street, Calle Ocho, cigar shops, art galleries and souvenir stores try to recapture the nostalgia of the community’s early years.

At the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Factory, Luis Mator rolls cigars and owner Pedro Bello sits outside each day in a pair of dark shades, signing boxes, cigar in mouth. Nearby, Pablo Gonzalez Portilla taps his hands rhythmically on a pair of bongo drums outside his gift shop.

Tourists from throughout the U.S., Latin America and nearly every continent stop by in bright red double decker buses that shuttle travelers throughout the city. They pose for photos next to a gigantic, colorful rooster, a symbol long associated with the Cuban culture, take sips of Cuban coffee and watch old men play dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park.

There are also hints of how the neighborhood is changing: Newly painted murals cover many of the buildings and Honduran and Colombian restaurants stand alongside Cuban ones.

It is a mix that amplifies a Cuba of the past and the immigrants of today — a neighborhood and story uniquely Miami.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

 

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