Hi everyone, My name is Hugo Marin and I am a Finance major attending FIU Honors College. I am a Miami local and have lived here for all 21 years of my life. I grew up in an Ecuadorian household because both sets of grandparent came from Ecuador, during my parents high school years, in search of a better life. I feel very blessed to grow up both as an American and as an Ecuadorian. These dual cultures were extremely easy to integrate into Miami because of the strong hispanic presence in our city. I love to wakeboard, surf, travel, and explore. Having seen most of Miami all my life, I am excited to take a different approach and see my city in a new light.
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“More Than Meets the Eye” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Downtown
Downtown Miami, the heart of my city, my home. Coming into this guided tour I was not expecting much. I thought that I could learn little Easter eggs here and there about downtown. However, I was blown away by how much I did not know about areas that I have passed by a million times before. The city has such a rich and diverse history that was never really taught to me in schools. The only way to learn this information is to be an active learner and go out into the world.
Going out into the world is something that has been taking away from us because of the pandemic. So, it was great that I got the opportunity to get to do so with FIU. I thought it was funny that my first in person class in almost a year wasn’t even in an actual classroom. We first met up at the government center at the “Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels”. I had not been inside the government center since the 2013 Miami Heat Parade. Although, I have passed by that street plenty of times, I’m embarrassed to say that I always thought that was just an abstract art piece. This was the start of a trend of things that I’ve seen but never taken the time to appreciate and learn what they actually are. From there we made our way towards the underpart of the highway by the new skate park. From prior knowledge, I already knew how the highway devastated the African American community in OverTown. When the highway was being built the community was forced to split causing many business and people to leave the area. What I didn’t know was, what that devastation meant in reality. To actually be there to experience the constant noise of cars, the smell of CO2, and the homeless crisis that’s happening there opens your eyes to the extent of damage that the highway has caused.
One of the things that stood out to me on this tour, was the history of the Tequesta or the lack there of. It was very sad to find out how little we know about Miami’s true native population. We learned about how most were killed by disease and then forced out of the strip of livable land. What made this worse was how their history was erased time and time again. For example, Flagler instructed his railroad workers to build over and discard a Tequesta burial site. Then later on, a building was constructed over a center of their civilization. This center, known now as the Miami circle, is located next to where the fresh water from the Miami river meets the salt water of the ocean. Most recently the Whole Foods in downtown was built over a Tequesta site and the archeologist were given barely any time to conduct research.
The most memorable part of the tour was when we gathered at a Miami’s Lummus Park and discussed the history of plantations in the south. The buildup of that discussion, to the final reveal of there being a fully intact slave quarters right behind us, was unlike anything I ever experienced in school. It was amazing to see a building with such a rich history just sitting in a random park in downtown. This is when I realized the importance of this type of learning that cannot be replicated in a classroom. Even if I read the info sign about Fort Dallas on my own, it would have not sparked this type of invested curiosity. I have never been so excited to pass on the things I learned in class to my family and friends.
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“How it Was Supposed to be” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Everglades
Miami is renowned for its beaches and sunny blue skies. You would think that this city is very in touch with nature, but unfortunately that is not the case. Many people from Miami live the “salt life” because of how close we are to the ocean but Miami’s true nature has been lost. Other than the occasional park, Miami is mostly streets, houses, and buildings. If you want to see how Miami was supposed to be without human intervention you have to go out west to one of the largest national parks known as the Everglades.
I have visited the Everglades numerous times before with family and friends. Usually when I have come we go to the main visitor centers like the Anhinga trail. Sometimes we come at night to get the best view of meteor showers. I have never visited the park like this though. To be able to go of trail and actually go into the everglades was an experience I will never forget. The activity we did was know as Slough Slogging. We parked our cars of the main road and proceed to enter what is called the Double Dome. A dome is made up a bunch of cypress trees that concentrate at the to give it a dome shape. As the cypress trees age there roots dig up more of the soil creating very deep spots at the center of the dome. These spots can have water all the way up to your shoulders. It was exciting and scary to be shoulder deep in the same water as alligators. Although, our ranger assured us that we had nothing to worry about as they were more scared of our big group and were probably long gone before we got anywhere near them. I still had the chance to see other wildlife like birds, lizards, spiders and a Florida Gar.
The whole Slough Slogging experience was easily my favorite part of the whole day but what I enjoyed the most about the slough slogging were three instances where I felt like I was truly connected to the land. The first instance was when the ranger told us to have a moment of silence and just listen. Since we were in a big group the silence was a huge change to the noise we were making before. Once we all quieted down I was able to hear the wind swaying the trees, the birds calling one another, and the splashes of water. Not only was I able to hear more clearly but I was also able to feel more clearly as well. I could feel the slow rush of the water around me and the sunlight making its way through the trees. The next instance where I felt connected to the land was when we made it all the way to the other side of the the Double Dome. Being on the other side of it you could truly appreciate its scale and beauty. It felt like an accomplishment to be out in the wilderness having successfully gone through the Double Dome. The final instance was on our way back where we were encourage to go of on our own. This instance felt like the moment of silence tenfold. The water was crystal clear when you went of on your own. This was when I was able to see more wildlife as well and could appreciate everything more. Although when I noticed all the wildlife I was seeing I got worried about seeing an alligator and quickly made my was back closer to everyone else.
There was a point when we talked about how other places have such rich history and culture because of the land that they live on. Miami isn’t as old as other places, but since we have this shared land and experience culture can be cultivated from this. Like how a poet that comes to do Slough Slogging by herself, creates poems from her experiences here. This experience is Miami.
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“The Most Diverse 450 Acres In Miami” By Hugo Marin Of FIU at Deering Estate
This trip to the Deering Estate has been the one that has surprised me the most so far. This is because this trip was was not what I expected to see at all. I was expecting to go to an Estate. In my mind an estate is when a rich person has a mansion with a lot of land that’s usually well taken care. In the entrance of the estate this preconceived notion of mine was true. It was a beautiful mansion with a Mediterranean type of architecture. The landscape was very well groomed and taken care of. Behind the mansion was a picture perfect set up of palm trees on either side of a man made canal, overlooking the ocean. This estate was so beautiful its a no brainer why there was a wedding being set up there on our visit. The mansion itself was also very well kept and was like a blast into the past with its interior design style and preserved kitchen, bedrooms, and prohibition era alcohol vault. Although this was all super cool and the history of this place was fascinating, none of this was completely un expected. What I didn’t expect was our 7 mile hike into various ecosystems that are also on the estate.
At the start of our trip here, we left the well groomed land up to a gate that normal visitors usually aren’t allowed to go past. Here we were instructed to put on our bug spray as we waited for one of the workers to come open the gate for us. This gate gave me Narnia or Bridge to Terabithia vibes as it felt like we were fully transported into a new world. On our hike we came across six different type of ecosystems that were being conserved on the property. The six ecosystems we came across were the Hardwood Hammock, Salt Marsh, Pine Rocklands, Mangrove Forest, Sea Grass Beds, and Slough Creek Habitat. I was amazed how every mile or so we were in a completely new and unique ecosystem that was very different from the previous one. What amazed me the most was the rock ridges, caves, and cliffs that we saw because I didn’t expect that to be found in South Florida. Its crazy to think that all of these ecosystems can be found just a couple miles of US one .
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“Money, Party, Art” By Hugo Marin of FIU at Vizcaya
Even though I have lived in Miami all my life I have never been to Vizcaya. My parents have always told me to go there which is why I was very excited for this trip. Upon arriving there I was greeted by lost of Greek statues in the entrance and a roman archway. These are the type of things you would find in a museum in Europe but they were just chilling here in Vizcaya. At the entrance of the mansion we are greeted by the Greek God of wine and pleasure. This theme of pleasure and luxury is one that is constantly thrown at your face while going around the property. This property reminded me of the Great Gatsby and the extravagance of that mansion and party life in the early 1920s. Although I think Vizcaya might have the Great Gatsby beat.
The house itself was uniquely designed in that the rooms all flowed into each other and the “outside” seamlessly connected to the “inside”. Each room was just filled with so much art it all looked like it was supposed to be in a museum. My favorite room was the courtyard in the center of the house that connected all the rooms together. Unfortunately, when we went there was a lot of construction happening outside so we couldn’t really appreciate the fake boat that was built in the water that’s purposes was to break the waves from hitting the yachts that would park there. The Vizcaya Gardens were beautiful it had mazes, fountains, statues, and a canal were guest would come on their boats. This whole place looks like someone wanted to create the greatest party house ever. I can only imagined what it would be like to have gone to one of the parties hosted here.
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“One of Wynwood’s First” By Hugo Marin at The Margulies
It was really cool that the final trip we took was to an art collection. Last time i went to an art museum was at PAM over three years ago. I’m not really a huge art person but it was very cool to have this experience. What I found most fascinating was Martin Z Margulies the owner of this private collection. The story of him goes that he wasn’t very much into art, he mostly enjoyed sports and only bought an art piece for his girlfriend. Years later his girlfriend is a sports reporter and he is ne of the largest private art collections. The reason that he does this is not to horde art but rather to share it with the public and to meet new and interesting people. I was very jealous when I found out he was there early in the day for the other classes I would have very much liked the opportunity to get to meet him. He was one of the first to open an art collection in Wynwood before Wynwood became what it is today. I’m glad that has given back to the community with the center for women and children because one of the main things against Wynwood is that the area has become gentrified and is hurting the locals that used to live there.
This type of collection had one of my favorite types of art which is contemporary art. I like contemporary art because its not conventional art and really makes you think. At the same time though contemporary art can mean nothing and just be fun to look at. The four pieces that stood out to me were the T.Vs with the animals playing, the Last Supper, the sacks, and the elevator on the wall. The T.Vs with the animals playing was super fun to look at because of how it humanize the animals and you can see all different types of animals just having fun. The last supper one was interesting to me because it shocked me, being a catholic I found it slightly offensive and the shock value that it provided me was something that I found interesting. The sacks were fun because I have never experience an art piece that’s main focus was the use of scent. Finally the elevator one was one of my favorites because of how random it was and I could only imagine how awkward it must have been to film. I will definitely return to this collection with friends and family because of how affordable this collection is to see, everyone in Miami should go check it out.