France 2020 Ineffable Miami: The Hammocks by Diana Cristancho

STUDENT BIO

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Picture by Liliana Rios

My name is Diana Cristancho and I am a resident of Miami. I’m a student at Florida International University and I am studying Recreational Therapy. I’ve lived in West Kendall all my life, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced a large part of Miami. For elementary, middle, and high school, I commuted at least a 45 minute ride to school. I’ve gone from the most western side of Miami to the east coast. I can get around Miami without a GPS and even still I discover new parts of the city every day. When I went to high school at MAST Academy in Key Biscayne, I made friends who lived in the Hammocks. Ever since, I’ve spent most of my time hanging out in the restaurants, parks, and stores in the area. It has now become a second home to me.

GEOGRAPHY

Image by Google Maps

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, The Hammocks is located west of SW 137th Ave, south of SW 88th St, east of SW 177 Ave, and north of SW 120th St. It is 6 miles west of what the U.S. Census Bureau recognizes as Kendall. Most people who live in the Hammocks consider it as Kendall since it is along Kendall drive. This is also because the landscape of the Hammocks, The Crossings, Kendall, West Kendall and other surrounding areas are made up of mostly town houses, parks, and lakes. That being said, the Hammocks has a total area of eight square miles, where 7.9 miles of it are land and o.2 square miles are water. The Hammocks almost accomplished its attempt to create a perfect community. It is family based, there are parks, lakes, recreational activities, restaurant, stores and community bonding activities and events.

HISTORY

The Hammocks is a barrier between developed land, and soil that is still used for agriculture. To the East, there are houses, stores, malls and buildings the further you go, but just about a mile left of the Hammocks, you hit farm land. For the longest time, that area has stayed untouched, but now a new mall with restaurants is being built. Cleaner roads are being paved, yet anything around chrome still stays untouched. The community of the Hammocks dates back to 1981 and is constantly developing, but before that time, it was just farmland tamed by crops. If you drive around the outskirts of the crossings you can see glimpse of water systems spraying agriculture. There isn’t very much information on this area, but as immigration increased and more people needed homes, the area of the Hammocks was created.

DEMOGRAPHICS

The hammocks has a large population of people that are hispanic. A good portion of those people are specifically Colombian. Because of this, the Hammocks is also jokingly called Little Colombia. This area has a population of 68,457, last recorded in 2017. Since 2000, there has been a change in population by +44.5%. Out of these individuals, 53.4% are female and 46.6% are male. While the number of individuals of each gender is almost even, the record of people of different ages is also very evenly spread out. There is no predominantly high population of a certain age. The age groups are split into eight categories, starting at less than ten years old and ending at more than 65 years old. Each one of these categories is between 8 and 16 percent. Nevertheless, the median age is 36.2 years old. In this area, the majority of the residents are white and hispanic. 85% are white, including white hispanic and 76.9% are hispanic. In terms of education levels, 34% have some college or associates, 24% have high school diplomas or have passed the GED, 23% have bachelor degrees, 10 percent have master’s degrees or higher, and 9% have less than a high school diploma. As for income, The median for a household is $68,076, where Florida’s median is $52,594.  As of 2017, 59% of the Hammocks population owns their homes. The other 41% are most likely taken up by a lot of young professionals in the neighborhood. In addition, the median house or condo value is $315,100 and the median gross rent is $1,766. All that being said, the Hammocks is a great area to start a family, especially since the public schools in the area are above average. According to NICHE, it is the best for young professionals, public schools, and people who want to start a family. 

INTERVIEW WITH LAURA BEDOYA, HAMMOCKS RESIDENT

How long have you lived in the Hammocks? 

15 years 

How would you describe living there? 

Calm and simple. 

Did you go to any of the parks when you were little? If so which ones? 

I usually just visit my local lake which is right next to Wild Lime Park. Most neighborhoods in the Hammocks have lakes and parks.

What is your favorite part about the Hammocks? 

It is where a lot of my friends and loved ones are. I have a lot of great memories here.

What schools did you attend? 

Claude pepper elementary, Christina M eve elementary, Hammocks middle school, and Mast academy.

What is your nationality? 

I’m Colombian. I was born there and then my family and I moved to Miami.

What is your favorite place to eat in the hammocks? 

Good question. There are lots of good Hispanic restaurants around like Charcoals, Sergios or El Torro Loco.

Do you take public transportation? 

Back when I was in high school I took the bus and the metro to school.

Are you or your family religious? 

My family is catholic.

LANDMARKS

WINGS OVER MIAMI MUSEUM

Picture by the Wings Over Miami

Although this museum is placed just off of the Hammocks, it is an important part of the community. All the residents of the Hammocks have experienced hearing the loud sounds of the airplanes pass by. Having to explain to their children that what is flying in the sky is a machine, not a bird. In addition, the Tamiami Airport takes a large portion of the area, almost half the size of the Hammocks area. “Wings Over Miami Air Museum serves as a tribute to those veterans and aviators who pioneered civilian and military aviation. The museum is for the education and enjoyment of all the community.” They are educated in the history of aircrafts and fly military and classic aircraft. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admissions and tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $6 for children 12 and under.

OUR LADY OF LOURDES CATHOLIC CHURCH

Being a very hispanic community, many of the residents are religious, especially catholic. Having a temple of religion in a predominantly catholic area is very important in keeping the residents where they are. This in turn builds a more united community. Many of the believers find the priests and the staff at the church very welcoming and inspiring. They have a beautiful 24 hour chapel surrounded by blue and gold dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There are also areas around the church where you can light candles and give offerings. It makes the aura of the room very peaceful. They have services Monday through Friday at 8 AM in English and 7 PM in Spanish.  On Saturdays they have English services at 8 AM and Spanish services at 9 AM, while on Sundays they have English at 11:45 AM and Spanish at 1:30 PM. If you’re not religious yourself, it is still a wonderful place to visit and take in the architecture. 

STRAWBERRY FARM

The Strawberry farm on 94th street and 137th avenue is tradition. It has been three years. You can hand pick strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, peppers and sunflowers; something everyone in Miami has to do at least once. Tons of families in and outside of the hammocks area come to partake in this experience. There is nothing like walking down the rows of strawberry bushes and picking out the perfect basket strawberries. All the products picked are fresh, organic, and inexpensive. They are open everyday from 9 AM to 6 PM.

GREEN

The hammocks being very family oriented, parks are very important, whether it is to be used by adults, children, or animals. A lot of the recreational sports are played at the parks around the Hammocks to engage everyone in the community.

HAMMOCK COMMUNITY PARK

Hammocks Community Park, Picture by Miami Dade Parks and Recreation

The Hammocks has a variety of parks that many of the residents consistently go to, but Hammocks Community Park is the second largest park and the most popular. It is located at 9885 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. It is a free public park that is open Monday through Sunday from 8 AM to 8 PM. The park provides the public with a shaded children’s park, baseball fields, racquetball courts, a shelter, and access to a lake. At the park they have after care programs, baseball, football, basketball, and T-ball practices and games. The park is also right next to Hammocks Middle School, which gives the students a great place to hang out after school.

WILD LIME PARK

This park is another extremely important park that is surrounded by multiple home communities and provides them with a country club and a beautiful outdoor center. Many people of the surrounding communities could walk along the trail of the lake which leads to the back of the park. Recently though, they blocked the park off from the lake and its beaches due to safety purposes and a suicide accident that occurred by the lake. Now it is fenced off. Nevertheless, the park still has a lot of space and can be accessed by all the residents. This not-for-profit park is located at 14751 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. It is open Monday through Sunday from 7 AM to 7PM. The park consists of a shelter, large soccer fields, a children’s park, an outdoor gym, and the country club. The country club has a pool, an indoor gym, and tennis courts. This park is very popular for its soccer. The park is sometimes even called Wild Lime Soccer Park. This park is set apart from the others because they have bleachers and well as LED soccer field lights that allow night practices.

TRANSPORTATION

Most of the residents in the Hammocks use a car to move from place to place. Although this is true, many locals travel by bus. The bus that travels through the Hammocks is the Miami-Dade Metrobus. The most commonly used route is the 104 bus. It moves from the West Kendall Transit Terminal/ Park and ride lot to the Dadeland North Metrorail station. This route passes through Killian and Kendall drive. The reason this bus is very popular is because it passes by Miami-Dade College and many students use that as their form of transportation. The second reason is because it stops at the Metrorail, Which many residents take to either go to work or go to school.

FOOD: HA LA ORDEN

Q’ HUBO CAFE

Q’Hubo Cafe is a Venezuelan Colombian Restaurant located in Hammocks Town Center at  10201 Hammocks Blvd, Miami, FL 33196. They are open everyday from 7 AM to 6 PM. is a hole in the wall cafe where you can grab a quick and delicious bite to eat. Although it can be like a fast food restaurant, you can walk in and have a long enjoyable meal as well. The staff there are very friendly and are there to make your experience as great as it can be. The design of the shop is very typically hispanic with its red and yellow colors. The best part of this spot is of course the food. You can walk in and have a Venezuelan, Colombian, or Cuban meal. My personal favorite is the Venezuelan empanadas, but again you can choose which country you want your empanada from. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The prices of the plates are extremely inexpensive, especially for the quality of food you get. Not only is there food delicious but so are their drinks. Their Jugo de Mora, a shake made out of blackberries, and their Milo or equally my favorite drinks; it just depends if I’m in the mood for fruits or chocolate.

LOS TANITOS

Los Tanitos is an Argentinian Restaurant in The Shoppes at Westburry on 9564 SW 137th Ave, Miami, FL 33186. They are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 AM to 8 PM. Their motto is, “If food is an experience, then you’ll find it at the restaurant” and they truly do give all diners an experience they’ll never forget. It is a family owned business and has been open since April 1, 1992. This makes it one of the longest lasting businesses in the area. It was originally named Che Tano and changed to Los Tanitos by the new owners and descendants  of the family. As it is passed down the family, they stay true to their Argentinian style and their three goals, “quality, service, and honestly.” If you decide to visit this restaurant, which I strongly advise you to, I suggest you pick up some fresh made churros before they run out. By the end of the day, there are never any left due to their deliciousness. Their empanadas are probably one of the best you will find in Miami and their steak is impeccable. I promise you that you can practically pick anything out of the menu and it will be the best Argentinian food you can find in Miami.

PALETA MANIA

Picture by Diana Cristancho

Paleta mania is one of the best discoveries I’ve made in the hammocks. You can usually only find stores that sell paletas in places like malls or in aesthetically pleasing locations such as Wynwood. Paletas are such a fun way to eat ice cream because let’s face it, everything is better on a stick. They are located at 16729 Sw 95th St Miami, FL 33196. The shopping center is very modern and unlike any of the architecture in the Hammocks. It resembles the Doral area and the white right fit townhouses. They have more than 20 flavors with natural fruits and/ low fat milk. It is a family run business from Venezuela that opened May 24, 2018.

BUSINESSES

KENDALL ICE SKATING ARENA

Image by the Kendall Ice Skating Arena

The Kendall Ice Skating Arena is one of the most popular businesses in the Hammocks. The building it is in was built in 2000 making it 20 years old. The rink has public skating, skating lessons, figure skating, hockey, and availability for birthday parties. When you go, you can rent out skates for $4 or bring your own, not including the $10 admission fee. At certain times of the day, rentals are free. The rink also has a summer camp where children can cool off from the hot Miami heat. In the rink they also have an arcade and a food stand. They sell hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, pretzels, churros, and more. The rink is a great place to go out with your family, friend, or significant other. On specific days and times, they have Teen Night Club on ice. Not only is it great for teens, but it is also great for children, especially when the chicken comes out to do the chicken dance.

LOS PAISAS CARNICERIA

This store used to be one of my favorite spots as a child. Yes, it is a butcher store, but it is also a market for Colombian products. When I was younger, my Karate dojo was right beside this store. After my lessons, I would go to the store and buy little cans of Lecheritas, Jet chocolatinas, obleas, bon bones, frunas and cafecito sized arequipe cups. I always enjoyed my karate lessons, but going to Los Paisas made it even more enjoyable. If any Colombian is missing their food and culture, they can definitely come here to get a piece of home. Not only is their market top notch, but their meat is very high end. They also sell homemade chimichurri, fresh bread, and the best chorizo. If you’re on your way to have a barbecue, I suggest you stop here first.

JUNGLE GYM FITNESS SAFARI

Jungle gym fitness safari is a bus that travels to schools, daycares, camps, and special events and encourages physical activity in children. They make exercise fun to keep children strong and healthy. They have many fitness programs that engage the children physically and mentally. They have rock climbing, swinging, climbing and more. During their visits they always have a minimum of three trainers on the bus. 

SUMMARY

This neighborhood has always been like home to me. It has everything you need, and if I had to be trapped in one place with all my friends and family in Miami, it would probably be there. Like the person in my interview said, it’s calm and simple. There are always activities to engage in and people to meet. Something very unexpected was that there is a larger portion of the population that is white and caucasian rather than Hispanic. I had assumed that since most of my friends and family that lived in that area were Hispanic, that that was the majority of the population. Apart from that, this community works very well and resembles an almost perfect community. 

CITATIONS

(n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.miamidade.gov/transit/mobile/metrobus_routes.asp?routeID=104>

(n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://lospaisasmarketvirtual.com/

10355 Hammocks Blvd, Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://clustrmaps.com/a/3tmpbl/

Maria A. (2019, October 26). Q’hubo Cafe – Miami, FL. Retrieved from https://www.yelp.com/biz/qhubo-cafe-miami

About. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from http://www.lostanitos.com/sample-page/

Hammocks Community Park. (2015, June 25). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://miamikidz.com/2010/parks-water-parks/kendall-parks/hammocks-community-park

Paleta Manía. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://paleta-mania.business.site/#posts

Public Ice Skating, Teen Night Club, Children, Adults, Dating, DJ. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.kendallicearena.com/public-skating

Stay Connected. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from http://www.ololourdes.org/Church/CatholicChurch.php

The Hammocks – Kendall, Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.neighborhoods.com/the-hammocks-kendall-fl

The Hammocks, Florida. (2020, April 12). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hammocks,_Florida

Wild Lime Park – Temp. CLOSED – Miami, FL. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.yelp.com/biz/wild-lime-park-miami

Wings Over Miami. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.wingsovermiami.com/

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