Be Ready To Stand Your Ground!!!
Coming to one of these ventanitas (windows) is not a task to be left in the hands of the soft-spoken and weak! Leave behind your manners and low voices; be STRONG, be LOUD!
At most of the ventanitas you will find the “usuals” standing there having their own cafecitos and chismiando (talking junk) about what Pepito did last night and the next Bingo at Mariaelena’s house. They make themselves at home and tend to walk right up and ask for their coffees. Don’t take it offensively if they cut you in line or speak louder than you; this is just how the cookie crumbles around here… Maybe a quick “Oye, Meng” will let them know you were standing there waiting for your own cafecito too!
Less IS More
If you don’t want to be looked at strange as you stroll over in your prissy high heels and nice ties, try blending in, Gringo! Chancletas (flipflops), a teeshirt and jeans or shorts will suffice. If you want to be part of the Ventanita Familia, ladies, don your low cuts with lots of cleavage and your thong hanging out the back of your pants. The old guys love it and it gives the women something to talk about for the next 20 minutes… or until the next Chonga strolls past with her ‘Viejo’ in arm. It seems demeaning, but it’s just the ventanita culture; would you walk over to a Rasta and ask him to take out his dreads because they look messy? Didn’t think so.
Proper Wording Makes All The Difference
You know how you walk into a Starbucks and you have all these fancy names for fancy coffees and their sizes… well, in the ventanitas of Miami, its not quite so confusing. Here’s what you could have:
• Colada – black coffee served with 4 shot-sized cups; to share or be hogged for a real wiring effect.
• Café or Cafecito – this would be the single serving of a colada. Some may choose this if they want to get wired alone; the more desperate might skip this and just take the colada all for themselves…
• Café con leche – this is for the weaker crowd; it’s typically a shot or two of black Cuban coffee drowned in milk and sugar.
• Cortadito – this is a stronger version of a café con leche and also a bit smaller… you could order it without the milk as well for a more powerful
• Café Americano – Not too popular at the ventanitas, but you could find it at the restaurants around town. Could be a 1 part coffee, 1 part water mixture; at other places it’ll simply be regular coffee made in a coffee maker.
4 And Then…
“Que Mas, Mijita(o)?”
This line, you will inevitably hear; it translates to, “what else, girl/guy?” Attitude only adds to the beautiful Cuban culture you’ve dared to immerse yourself in, if only for 5 minutes. What do you do when you hear this? Go crazy! Order a pastelito, croqueta, flan…! Pastelitos are little pastries filled with all sorts of delights, from guava and cheese to ground beef, even ham and cheese or pizza! Some may prefer a ham, chicken or cheese croquetta (croquette) instead or a little sweet-tooth indulgence like flan. It’s completely up to you and your gut!
As for the cost of all this, you are looking at about a quarter to $1.50 for the coffee and then about the same for a pastry or dessert. Sure beats paying $6+ at Starbucks for the same drink with a fancier name and duller environment, don’t it?