Kylee Andrade: Chosen Neighborhood 2022-2023

Chosen Neighborhood as Text

“The Mystical Oasis” by Kylee Andrade of FIU at Upper Buena Vista Miami on December 9th, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.

If there were two words to describe Upper Buena Vista it would be a “mystical oasis” as this location serves to be Miami’s most recognized sanctuary for artisans and merchants seeking to sell their craftsmanship to the world of tourists and locals. As one walks through the main entrance, the open space mall welcomes visitors to “Relax…. Breathe… and Recharge….” This allows all to truly take in the mall, outside shops, restaurants, entertainment, and magical bodhi trees that surround the area. Upper Buena Vista also fosters artisan services (spa and relaxing treatments), micro boutiques (selling art pieces, clothes, jewelry, and handcrafted hats), holistic and wellness events (such as mindfulness and yoga sessions), and restaurant services (serving food from different nationalities ranging from Israeli to Colombian to Turkish food!) Truly, this place has the power to leave anyone speechless from its beauty to its multicultural services!

Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.

One of my favorite shops that Upper Buena Vista offered was that of the “Khemla” crystal shop and the “Wanahat” handcrafted hat store. I chose to mention the Khemla shop because it sells some of the most beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and jewelry all made with or containing crystals from all types of precious rocks. Truly, this shop was special as re-imagines what healing can look like which may include the utilization of crystals and holistic healing through them. Personally, this shop impacted me as it reminded me of the yoga center that I used to attend when I lived in Weston, FL where we would tale crystals to our hearts and meditate on the healing power that it held to eliminate negative thoughts and obstructive energy to allow the flow of constructive and healing energy in our lives. Moreover, the other shop that also stuck out to me was that of the Wanahat store which carried hand-made hats from all different styles including divergent colors, textures, and designs. This hat shop reminded me of my home country’s hat shops that would sell authentic 100% hand-crafted Panama “sombreros”. This same shop in my country also had a factory that would demonstrate all the hard labor that would go into making the hats which earned my profound interest and respect for the workers and the designers who so carefully crafted the hats.

Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.

The must-go restaurant spot to eat from in Upper Buena Vista has to be “La Branja”. This is an Israeli-inspired restaurant that infuses both Israeli palette and Latin American food combinations and creates elevated ingredients that please global audiences. In order to get a reservation to this restaurant, one must first book it online as this exclusive restaurant is only available for booking at 7:00pm or 9:00pm every night with no walkings allowed. It even has a dress code for a “smart nostalgia and 1970s” inspired wardrobe! Moreover, a must-go dessert location that one has to absolutely taste if not explore is called “Sweet Epico” which is a craft pastry that carries sweet and traditional pastries ranging from yummy macaroons to salty crepes! If you have a sweet tooth like me, you MUST visit this location as it is a guaranteed show-stopper for desserts. The reason for why I included this location is because it brought me back to when I went inside a French pastry shop for the first time, carrying the sweet aromas of freshly baked macaroons and chocolate croissants. So, if you are looking for a French-styled pastry shop, visit Sweet Epico in Upper Buena Vista!

Photographs taken and edited by Kylee Andrade/ CC by 4.0.

Overall, visiting Upper Buena Vista was one of my favorite experiences as I got to explore countless multicultural restaurants, shops, and boutiques that each was uniquely designed and exhibited in their own way. Truly, the clothing shops and restaurants in Upper Buena Vista have a nostalgic power to take you back in time and remind you of your past experiences in similar shops whether it be from your hometowns or places you have traveled to. If a location was a perfect embodiment of Miami, it would be Upper Buena Vista as it represents the cultural melting pot of many nationalities coming together and creating an oasis of pure ineffable beauty and mystical energy.

Author: kyleeandrade

Kylee Andrade is a Senior pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a certification in National Security Studies at Florida International University. She belongs to the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) aspiring to commission as a Second Lieutenant Officer in the Military Intelligence Branch of the Army. Kylee’s passions include camping, traveling, playing sports, watching criminal documentaries, and volunteering. Ever since she was five years old, her dream had been to work for the intelligence community as an FBI Special Agent as growing up in South America had truly opened her eyes to the fatalities of violence and crime corrupting her neighborhood streets in her hometown Ecuador. Therefore, she is compelled to work for the federal government agencies after serving 8 years in the Army to ensure the overall protection of not only her community but her country as a whole by combating global issues such as human trafficking, transnational crime, terrorism, and public corruption. Lastly, she hopes to create an impact in the lives of those she meets with her extroverted and fun-loving personality to inspire kindness and compassion in the world.

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