Best Bus Ride (2006)

Route 8A

Route 8A, Miami-Dade Transit's exotic Third-World express through the heart of Little Havana, is an experience unrivaled in our public transportation system and dirt cheap at a buck-fifty. Many joke that for norteamericanos this rickety trip down Calle Ocho is like weathering the Florida Straits on a raft; it'll take you to another country, no passport required. Expect to find yourself immersed in spirited teeth-gnashing forums making mincemeat of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. And if you don't speak Spanish, don't worry -- neither does the bus driver who appears in a zone all his own. Chances are a civic-minded translator will likely come to your rescue. You might also find yourself serenaded by a harmonica player belting out woeful tango standards and passing around a hat. Or you could run into a route regular canoodling with a life-size rag doll. The aging dandy is a street performer who dances with the dummy as part of his shtick, and hecklers yell at him to pay an extra fare as he slinks gracefully down the aisle with his tattered toe-tapping inamorata. Catch the infectious whiff of patriotism exuded by the geezer sporting the "Support Our Troops in Iraq" baseball cap with an American flag duct-taped to the brim. When the lady with the guava-tinge teeth waves her Lotto ticket at a man and denounces him an "infiltrator" before he tucks tail and hops off at the next stop, score one for back-yard democracy. Be wary of the guy waving the rusty garden rake -- it could poke out an eye. When you exit at Domino Park for some local color, don't miss the banner bearing an American bald eagle. It boasts, "Welcome to your Homeland Defense Neighborhood," in English.


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