Making sense of Miami: what America’s refuge city says about the US’s future

The Calle Ocho festival is a representation of Miami's traditional Latin culture.Just off Miami’s busy Calle Ocho, the thoroughfare that is the beating cultural heart of the city’s Cuban community, there rises a splendid ceiba tree whose roots erupt from the ground like waves from the sea, and whose vast branches throw shade far to either side.

All around the gnarled roots and tucked into the tree’s hidden crevices, one finds the offerings of the faithful: candles, bags of food, feathers, bones. In this modern metropolis, whose vaulting skyscrapers a mile away reflect the near-blinding sun, the saturnalia surrounding the ceiba attests to the lifeblood of the Afro-Cuban religion of santería, and Miami’s eternal place in the imagination of el exilio, as the Cuban community is often referred to.

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