Maria and Carlos followed four street vendors for two days as the men peddled their wares, pounding the pavement in the dizzying, noisy traffic of Hialeah's most congested thoroughfares.
The growling engines of semi trucks don't faze these road hard men, still mustering up enough tact to sell everything from peanuts to bottled water with a certain grace. So many are the vendors and willing customers behind the steering wheel, it's as if they've developed a symbiotic relationship to each other on the streets.
Meet El Manicero (peanut peddler), a former trapeze artist from Cuba who became a clown with the Ringling Brothers circus after suffering an injury. El Manicero relishes his domain on the corner of one of Hialeah's busiest intersections.
Also meet a former Cuban welder who lost use of his hand through a motorcycle accident and after surviving eight days in a coma, is now selling cheap Made in China plastic dashboard clocks.
Then get to know an 18 year old Argentinean — we really didn't buy his accent though — who wants to make an honest living and finally, a Nicaraguan who is officially licensed to peddle on the streets, but not without trepidation.
All these men share one thing in common: an honest hustle in this land of new opportunity.
Everyone we've interviewed so far in the Yo Soy Hialeah project has expressed the same: this is the city to make a fresh start, a place to eek out a living with the hope of a promising future — from the most humble aspiration to the loftiest ambition — or perhaps nothing at all, happy with status quo of simple survival.
In an interesting twist, we learned in our research that the Institute of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the City of Hialeah on behalf of street vendors, claiming that it impedes progress for these entrepreneurial peddlers — an ironic situation for a city whose motto is City of Progress.
Street vending is very much a part of the American dream and it's very much alive in Hialeah.