25 Signs You Grew Up Latino in Florida

Florida is a wonderful place. Yes, the Sunshine State is also the capital of strange news, but there’s more to Florida than that. Between the beaches and food, it’s truly a great place to grow up Latino. Or at the very least, it makes for some interesting experiences.

Here are 25 signs you grew up Latino in Florida:

1. Chancletas

Chancletas are year-round footwear, and you definitely had a foot tan. Of course, you always had a tan, but what else can you expect when it’s (almost) always sunny.

2. Food Choices

You either had too much variety or not enough. Depending on where you lived in Florida, you either were overwhelmed by food options or you only had a few choices. In Southern Florida, you could choose between fritangas, baleadas, arepas or specialities from basically any Latin American country. The further north you moved, the more it was just Mexican cuisine.

3. Key West

You’ve been to the southernmost point in the United States. You’ve marveled at how this Key West attraction is only 90 miles to Cuba, which means you probably drove further to get to this buoy than it would take to get to a whole other country by boat.

4. Beach Memories

You don’t have a first memory of going to the beach because you’ve been going since before you could even remember. But you have plenty of other beach stories you can share.

5. Cuban breakfast

Even if you weren’t Cuban, pastelitos, Cuban bread and Cuban coffee, whether it was cortadita, cafe con leche or colada, were all breakfast staples. And they were all amazing.

6. Vizcaya

Vizcaya in Miami was the perfect backdrop for Quinceañera pictures. The gardens and museum is so grand that even Martha Stewart gave it her seal of approval. But where else would you want to be when dressed in a princess dress than at this beautiful mansion?

7. Hurricanes

You’ve totally missed school because of hurricanes and the FCAT. One was definitely terrible and might have left you without any electricity or worse. The FCAT, on the other hand, was a chance for 11th and 12th graders go to the beach on a school day. After all, the test no longer haunted you since it’s for 10th graders.

8. street food

You’ve bought some of the best street food from your car while stopped at a red light. The food was cheap and easy to eat on the go.

9. Churromania

If street churros weren’t your style, then you went to Churromania. There, you could customize your order and get them topped with dulce de leche or stuffed with chocolate. Sometimes you would go for simple and just get them doused in sugar.

10. Pollo Tropical

Pollo Tropical was a popular Latino fast food option. It had delicious plantains, black beans and rice, and grilled chicken. You’d definitely miss this place if you moved out of the state, as most of its United States locations are in Florida.

11. authentic food

Though you could find many ingredients from your country locally, it was also nice when relatives and friends went back to Latin America and brought you the most authentic food possible.

12. granizados

You could eat granizados year round, which is great because they were sold in ice cream trucks or little carts at every point during the year. They were similar to snow cones, as they were just ice and syrup, but definitely much better because of the bigger portion of syrup.

13. Elian González

You remember the saga of Elian González. The Cuban boy arrived in Miami in 1999. He and 12 others were on a small aluminum boat heading to Florida. Along the way, his mother and most of the other people died. Then began a custody battle for González, with family members in Miami fighting to keep him in the United States just as hard as his father tried to get him sent back to Cuba. He was eventually sent back to Cuba, as his other family members could not petition for asylum on his behalf. This story was the only thing people talked about for a while, and it’s conclusion left many Floridians (and other Americans) angry.

14. Radio

Your radio stations offered variety. You could listen to Celia Cruz, a young Pitbull and Ivy Queen just as much as other mainstream artists. 

15. Drinks

Each country has its own specialty drinks, so you saw things like Salva Vida, Aguardiente and Flor de Caña on the alcohol side, or Materva, Inca Kola and champagne cola on the soft drink side.

16. Field Trips

School field trips included going to Disney World, Busch Gardens or to the Everglades. And if it meant perfect attendance or good grades, you were going to be on the bus for that trip. 

17. Winn-Dixie

You shopped at Winn-Dixie and Publix just as much as at Latino grocery stores, such as La Mia and El Presidente.

18. Calle Ocho Festival

You’ve experienced all the emotions of going to the Calle Ocho Festival, when eighth street in Miami gets closed down for pedestrians to walk. You’ve been excited as a child because everything is so new and interesting to kind of over it when you realize that now you have to reroute your trips because one of the biggest streets is not available to you.

19. Being Cold

You sincerely believed that 60 degrees is freezing. This meant you broke out the scarves and layered light sweaters, so that you could bundle up in the cold Florida weather. Of course, you had to remove layers by noon because it would be much too hot by then.

20. Sabado Gigante

You’ve gone or know someone who has gone to Sabado Gigante. At the very least, you were always aware that this brand of odd was filmed right in Florida, unlike many other shows that aired on Univision.

21. Tostasdas

You know those little red baskets hold the best kind of tostada (made, of course, out of Cuban bread.) Some restaurants even served them as appetizers.

22. Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo

You can still sing along to the best jingles ever, which were created for Santa’s Enchanted Forest or Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo. You’ll never forget that Santa’s is at “Tropical Park on Palmetto and Bird Road.” And at some point, you probably had some artwork or poem featured at the fair, so you would take a break from food and rides to show your family the ribbon you won.

23. ESOL

English as Second Language (ESOL) classes are not just for immigrants. Even those who were born in the United States might have taken and benefitted from these classes.

24. Floridian Latinos

You can’t help rooting for Latino celebrities born and raised Florida. Joanna Garcia, Victoria Justice and Andy Garcia know exactly what it’s like being Latino in Florida, and you can appreciate that.

25. Diversity

Knowing that you live in a place that’s diverse enough where you could meet different kinds of Latinos, but where you could also find others to relate to is truly amazing.