Alfredo Bidopia: Miami as Text

Photo by Alfredo Bidopia/ CC by 4.0

Hi there! My name is Alfredo Bidopia and I am a junior studying Marketing with a certificate in Import and Export at Florida International University. I was born in Cuba, raised in Panama, and I have lived in the United States for five years. Something curious is that the three countries that I mentioned share the same colors on their flag. In my spare time I like to paint, ride bicycle, and play guitar. I also love traveling and discovering new places. That is what motivated me to select the “Finding Miami” class. I hope that after taking this class I can see Miami with a wider perspective and I can learn more about its history.

Downtown as Text

Photo by Alfredo Bidopia/ CC by 4.0

“Tequesta County”

By Alfredo Bidopia of FIU at Downtown Miami, 22 January 2021.

For the five years I have been living in the United States I don’t think I have ever thought about the history of Miami. This realization came to my mind when professor Bailly showed us the interesting and mysterious downtown this city offers. We started our journey at the Government Center and finished it at the Freedom Tower. However, in the middle of these two destinations we stopped at the Dade County Courthouse to appreciate the origin of the name of our county. To my surprise “Miami-Dade County” originates from the name of the Major Francis Langhorne Dade. This Major was sent to Florida to fight the Seminoles and force them to relocate to the west. History is not black or white, it is gray and that is why I understand that if situations like this never happened maybe we wouldn’t be here today. However, that doesn’t mean I agree that our city should be called after a Major that came to fight the already suffering tribe of Seminoles. Instead, we could use a different name that represents more the city and its origins. For example, “Tequesta County”. I think this could be a great name for our county because it demonstrates that we respect our past and the people that was here before us.

My thoughts about the name of our county became stronger when we visited the Miami Circle. At first glance I thought this was just a normal dog park, but when professor Bailly started explaining that in that circle there used to be a Tequesta structure I was shocked. It is a disrespect to the origins of our city and to the extinct Tequesta tribe. I don’t blame the people that was there because they were probably misinform like I was. But I don’t understand how the city can allow something like this. In my opinion, schools should focus more on teaching about Miami history and perhaps by doing this we can show the respect the Tequesta deserve.

Everglades as Text

Photo by Alfredo Bidopia/ CC by 4.0

“Miami’s Hidden Paradise”

By Alfredo Bidopia of FIU at Everglades National Park, 05 February 2021.

Fifty minutes away from my house I found myself in a place like no other. I remember thinking, “This doesn’t look like South Florida”. The reality was that for the first time I was witnessing the real South Florida.

The idea of just going to the Everglades would have sound boring and crazy to me around seven months ago. Covid-19 has impacted us in many different ways, but the aspect that shocked me the most from this pandemic was not been able to go to my usual places. This provoked a new flame in me to discover new places and connect more with nature.

Our adventure at the Everglades started when Ranger Dylan arrived and explained to the class how we were going to proceed in the slough and some past experiences she had. She even told us about another Ranger that almost stepped on top of a venomous snake. Let’s just say that snakes are not my favorite animals. When we finally parked the cars on side of the road to enter the jungle of the cypress trees, I didn’t know what to expect. I was afraid, but at the same time, I was excited because this was my first time visiting the Everglades.

As we entered the cold waters of the slough, I only thought about the possibilities of having alligators or snakes near me. It was when I allowed myself to be one with the present that I got to enjoy the real experience. Ranger Dylan was incredible, she guided us through the slough and shared with us important information regarding biodiversity. Suddenly she took a book out of her backpack and read the class a poem in the middle of the cypress forest. At that moment I felt connected for the first time with nature. It was something unexpected, but necessary.

As Ranger Dylan suggested I decided to separate from the group and explore the area by myself. The air running between the trees and the water moving between my legs brought me inspiration. I was inspired to create, to conserve, to show this paradise to others. I couldn’t understand how a place like this could bring such types of emotions. It was at that moment that I felt I was truly getting to know my home.

South Beach as Text

Photo by Alfredo Bidopia/ CC by 4.0

“South Beach Reality”

By Alfredo Bidopia of FIU at South Beach, 19 February 2021.

Like many other places around the world, Miami Beach has some good and bad sides to its history. Usually, people tend to only know the good aspects because that’s what the city tries to highlight. When Carl G. Fisher arrived at South Beach, he saw the potential of what this place could become. With the growth of the city, mangroves were removed. Ironically, what we know today as Fisher Island used to be the place African-Americans were allowed to attend the beach. Segregation was not only suffered by African-Americans. Jews were only allowed to live south of the fifth street. Carl G. Fisher bought the island from Dana A. Dorsey, one of the first African-American millionaires in Florida. Ironically, Fisher Island is one of the most expensive zip codes in the United States. Another interesting fact about this island is that it used to be connected to South Beach. The separation came with the government cut to allow better access to the port of Miami.

One of the most attractive features of South Beach is its diversity in architecture. We can find buildings with completely different styles, but the most common ones are Mimo and Art Deco. What characterizes Mimo buildings are the roundness of their shapes, open courts, and contrasting textures. On the other side, Art Deco is more focused on creating lines and symmetric separations between the buildings. These lines make eyes go crazy. Almost every building has three floors and three main sections marked with lines that separate the aesthetic of the construction. These types of buildings also include lines that stick out, providing shadow for pedestrians or in some cases their only purpose is to follow the aesthetics with lines. South Miami has become one of the favorite places for tourists to see the Art Deco design because of how well buildings are preserved.

The good and the bad will always be present in the history of Miami. It is our choice to decide which of the three sides of history we will remember. The good, the bad, or both.

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