Hidden Treasure among Hamburgers


Floating Lights


I took this shot while in the Z-burger in Columbia Heights. Although this post is not directly related to the topic of my blog, I wanted to share this photo with everyone. Goes to prove that you can find beauty in just about everything. It was a hidden treasure among menus and industrial white fluorescent lights.

Hidden Treasures Series


Old School

As I explored the neighborhood of Columbia Heights, I discovered that there are many hidden treasures throughout the area. For this reason, I have decided to highlight one hidden treasure per week. The series will be aptly named Hidden Treasures. For the  first treasure  I decided to highlight this lovely gem. Old cars often say a lot about the neighborhood in which they are found. It tends to be a neighborhood of people who appreciate and learn from the old. This is reflective of Columbia Heights. It is a neighborhood filled with historical landmarks that continues to welcome a new community, while still holding on to its cultural roots.

Stay tuned to see what’s next week’s hidden treasure!

Symbols of Cultural Tenacity: Latinos in Columbia Heights


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DC Latinos in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. are holding on. In the midst of luxury apartment buildings and large corporate shopping malls, they continue to demonstrate their cultural tenacity through small symbols that represent who they are. These are symbols that serve as a daily reminder of the vibrant Latino culture that has given Columbia Heights its unique character and vibe.

It is a breezy Sunday afternoon and Columbia Heights is buzzing. Restaurants are serving lunch, churches are preaching the word of the Lord, and coffee shops are hosting intriguing conversations.  However, these are not just ordinary business or worship establishments. They are serving as a form of cultural expression for the residents of Columbia Heights. The storefronts are painted with the same bright, impacting colors that line the streets of Latin America. The smells of food flow out of restaurants like they do from the kitchens of our grandmothers.  Families stroll hand in hand as mothers instill their cultural values and practices in their children.  And, all signs communicate in both English and Spanish.

These are subtle and obvious symbols throughout Columbia Heights. They do not always evoke cultural tenacity, but with a second look they are symbols that are keeping the Latino culture alive. Signs, cars, and food all serve as symbols that may be frequently overlooked. Signs read “Los Hermanos” or “Los Primos” meaning the brothers or the cousins, respectively, demonstrating the strong family ties that exist within the Latino family. Restaurants are filled with food that is more commonly found in the Dominican Republic than in the local Safeway.

Church bells ring and families begin to make their way home. As they head home, some families are heading to the Gala Hispanic Theatre to see a performance of the “House of the Spirits”. The Gala Theatre houses the National Center for Latino Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Inside its walls, you hear words and music that define theatre in the Latino culture. Its walls have images that transport you to the theatres of Latin America where many of the performances originated. The Gala Hispanic Theatre serves as a symbol of the cultural tenacity of Latinos.

As families continue to grow and children assimilate more to American and DC culture alike, cultural symbols will become more important. They will continue to serve as a way for the community to display their cultural tenacity. The Gala Hispanic Theatre will continue to expose communities to the music and dance of Latinos. Restaurants like Los Hermanos will continue to serve home cooked meals from Latin America and churches will continue to bring together communities. Even mundane places like Laundromats, will continue to serve as symbols of culture by the sense of community that is cultivated within them.

Columbia Heights will continue to go through its transformation.  Its demographic will change, but I can assure you that symbols of the Latino community will hold on. The children of today will be tomorrow’s adults, and their cultural tenacity will continue to exist. Latinos have made a significant cultural impact in Columbia Heights and their symbols will continue to stay alive.

Dominican Independence Day

The Dominican flag unites all Dominicans around the world.

The Dominican flag unites all Dominicans around the world.

Today is the independence day of the Dominican Republic. It has been 169 years since the Dominican Founding Fathers declared independence from Haiti and adopted a constitution resembling the constitution of the United States. Today marks a day of celebration for millions on the island of Hispaniola but also for the millions of Dominicans in the United States. In Washington, D.C. Dominicans make up 10% of the Latino population, totaling more than 5,000 people. These are 5,000 people that today are proud of their heritage and culture. Let’s all be Dominican for the day and join in on the celebration!

My Inspiration

You will always find a flag in a Dominican house. The flag photographed is currently hanging in my house. I wanted to capture the vivid colors of the flag and the texture of the fabric. I did not want the image to look static. A flag represents pride and it shouldn’t just lay flat without motion. I took the flag and placed it on a flat surface; played around with it; and placed it in different positions. The lightening came from the sunlight, so I had to play around with shadows as well. I really wanted to zero in on the emblem, so I am pleased with how the flag fills the whole frame. This ended up being my favorite shot.

Taste of Home on Wheels

The Salsa Room Empanada Food Truck

The Salsa Room Empanada Food Truck

The D.C. Food Scene has transformed over the years. You no longer have to go to a high-end, sit-down restaurant to get a spectacular culinary creation. Just step foot outside your office or school. Between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. food trucks line up the streets of the District. They serve anything from Mac and Cheese to Spam Musubi. I am a huge fan of the Latin food trucks. They bring me a taste of home directly to work. What could be better than that? With a growing Latino population, it was a matter of time before Latino food trucks would appear on the scene. So during your next lunch break, skip the lunch counter and head for the streets where you will find a taste of home on wheels.

Latino Food Trucks

For more food trucks, head over to Food Truck Fiesta.

Empanadas from the Salsa Room Food Truck

Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas from the Salsa Room Food Truck

My Inspiration

Last Thursday, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and it was Valentine’s Day. Seemed like a perfect day for a food truck run. I jumped of excitement when I saw The Salsa Room Empanada truck. It had been a long time since I tasted an amazing empanada. I grew up on empanadas, fried not baked, and the thought of them brings me back home. I forgot about my diet and went for it. As I stood online, I realized that this would make a great blog post and photos. Food trucks always have creative designs which make them unique. Embracing my inner tourist, I began to take pictures from different angles. The one in this blog is my favorite because it looks like the truck could move at any time. By focusing on half the food truck and leaving space in front of it, it makes it look the truck has space to move. For the empanadas, I wanted to capture their color and texture. I took the photo from many different angles. I wanted the viewer to experience the food up close and personal. That is why I chose this shot. The angle and placement of the empanadas brings them to life.

A Glass of Wine

The lighting in this photo illustrates the peace of mind and relaxation a glass of wine can induce. It symbolizes the ability to connect people across cultures and spark conversations.

The lighting in this photo illustrates the peace of mind and relaxation a glass of wine can induce. It symbolizes the ability of wine to connect people across cultures and spark conversations.

Supermarket shelves all over D.C. are filling up with wines from Chile, Argentina and Mexico. These wines compete with the most exquisite wines from France, Spain and Italy. Now Latin America not only exports its tasty food and soulful music, but also its delicious wines. Here in Washington, D.C. you can indulge in Latin America’s newest additions to American society. Wine has never tastier better!

Here is a list of four budget-friendly wine brands from Latin America.

  1. Concha y Toro (Chile)
  2. Gascón Malbec (Argentina)
  3. Veramonte 2012 Syrah Rose (Chile)
  4. Almaviva (Chile)



Feel of Music

Music is at the center of many different cultures. This photo illustrates what I hold closest to my heart from my Latino heritage -music! The Salsa Room is an example of the presence of the DC Latino diaspora's culture.

Music is at the center of many different cultures. This photo illustrates what I hold closest to my heart from my Latino heritage -music! The Salsa Room is an example of  the culture  of the Latino diaspora in D.C.

It’s 11 p.m.  and the music is blaring. Heels are stomping the ground and bodies are moving in unison with the sounds of drums, trumpets and guitars. This is the common scene during weekends at the Salsa Room in Arlington, VA. Here both experts and amateurs come to dance to the sounds of Salsa, Merengue and Bachata. The club has offered live international Latin artists since 1991, and has served as a performance venue for legendary artists such as Marc Anthony and Frankie Ruiz. It is a place loved and cherished by the DC Salsa community, which is made up by many members of the DC Latino Diaspora.

I invite everyone to be part of the party by attending dance lessons or by doing your own thing on the dance floor.