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Early in the morning, the streets quietly begin to fill with cargos of flowers to be sold in different parts of the city. Flower sellers usually get their flowers from farms on the outskirts of town, so they have to rise with the sun if they want to get fresh flowers still wet from the morning dew.
Some sellers position themselves at farmers’ markets where they know there will be a continuous flow of people, a fact that helps them sell more and quicker. Others choose boulevards or large avenues, or central streets in the neighborhoods. Still others are always on the go. They sell and shout their wares riding bikes or pulling a cart of sorts laden with different flowers: roses, gladioli, carnations, sunflowers, tuberoses, mariposas, the Cuban national flower.
One species that flower vendors cannot fail to have is the sunflower. Devout Cubans buy this yellow flower for the Virgin of Charity, whose clothing is of the same color as the flower. Others buy it because they say that it gives out positive energy. One thing is for sure, whatever the reason for buying sunflowers, they are a sure bet for the sellers.
There are also plenty of roses, symbol of passion and love. The most popular rose is the so-called “príncipe negro”—black prince—which owes its name to its intense red color. Yellow, white and Bulgarian roses are also very popular—for the virgin, for the dead and for the lover.
If someone needs to buy a flower bouquet or a vase, they should head down to the largest and most varied farmer’s market in Havana, located at Monte Street and occupying one whole city block. It also has the largest variety of flower arrangements in the city.
Whether on a bike, pushing a cart or at a stall, the visual spectacle that flower sellers create with their colorful goods is refreshing and stimulating, and enlivens the city. July 2012