Jeanine Prado: España as Text 2022

Photo by Jeanine Prado / CC by 4.0

Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a Sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my hometown, Miami + Spain where my culture came from.

Madrid As Text

Photo by Jeanine Prado at Madrid / CC by 4.0

“Pueblito Hecho Cuidad”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Madrid, España, June 14, 2022

Cuba es mi país; yo no nací allí pero me identifico como cubana. Yo he ido a Cuba sobre tres veces y he visto diferentes lugares; una ciudad, un campo y una playa. 

Yo nada más he estado en Madrid (la capital de España), apenas, una semana y mucho es como La Habana (la capital de Cuba). La Habana es una ciudad muy importante lleno de cubanos y restaurantes y tiendecitas, como se ve Madrid en la superficie. En foto son lo mismo, apartamentos con las ventanas abiertas, gente en restaurantes pidiendo café en el bar y gente caminando a donde tienen que ir. 

Photo by Jeanine Prado at Madrid / CC by 4.0

Como La Habana, Madrid no es una ciudad muy grande y por mucho tiempo fue pobre. El Paseo de Prado, bello en los dos, está alineado con tiendas y restaurantes y atrae a la gente. Los parques (claro en Cuba más chiquitos) como el Parque de Retiro están llenos de gente encantada con la naturaleza y la paz. Los parques de La Habana no tienen un Palacio de Cristal o un Palacio de Velázquez lleno de arte contemporáneo o moderno. La Habana no tiene un acompañante como Sol en Madrid. Las plazas y mercados apenas llegan a medio del extremo de lo que es las de Madrid en Sol. 

La diferencia es la historia y como están ahora. Cuba no se compara con la gran ciudad que se ha hecho Madrid. Madrid se convirtió en un lugar de gran importancia cuando Felipe II decidió mover la corte española de Toledo a Madrid. De allí Madrid creció y cambió. El pueblito ya no era pueblito pero ciudad. 

Ahora atrae a la gente con museos como el Museo del Prado y La Reina Sofía. El Parque de Retiro ve caras nuevas cada día y el metro confunde a muchos turistas. 

Madrid con todo lo viejo que se ve es moderno. Si fuera más como La Habana no valdría la pena escribir sobre él nuestra historia. 

Madrid pasó por mucho con el comunismo y la guerra civil pero nunca paró de ser importante para los Españoles. El oso se queda parado contra el árbol y el reloj sigue diciendo la hora. 

Photo by Juliana Cuneo at Madrid / CC by 4.0
Photo by Jeanine Prado at Madrid / CC by 4.0

Como dije, Madrid no es un pueblo sino una ciudad.

“Vale la pena levantarse temprano- por una sola vez- para vivir un día de vida de Madrid.” Miguel Mihura

Toledo As Text

Photo by John W Bailly at Toledo Parade / CC by 4.0

“Parading a Tradition”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Toledo, España, June 15, 2022

Last parade I saw that left me smiling as big as I was today was when I first saw the Disney parade that goes around in the early afternoon at Main Square. 

I was never a person to take part in a parade, even less one that would willingly go to one but today was different. Me, Julie, Seba and Nicole talked to two old ladies and they mentioned a parade. I obviously thought they had their days confused because Corpus Cristi, the parade of the body of Christ around Toledo, was the next day not today. The more they talked about the more I realized that it was npt Corpus Cristi they were talking about but a completely different parade that happens yearly and traditionally the day before Corpus Christi in Toledo. 

Professor Bailly said it better than anyone: “You just have to do.” That’s exactly what I did today. The next time I will be in Spain, let alone Toledo, is unknown to me and this event was one time a year; I just had to go to the parade; especially since they mentioned there would be a dragon. 

Photo by John W Bailly at Toledo Parade / CC by 4.0

Honestly, I had already found Toledo to be a deeply interesting town. In the walls it is stuffed with tradition. Just from walking the town you could see all the locals preparing for the celebration that is Corpus Christi. Even if someone were not religious in Toledo, on these two days you could not tell. Corpus Christi is not just a celebration of Christ and his sacrifice but of the whole town of Toledo. They have the most famous celebration with the biggest gold carrier for the body of Christ. Even our tour guide, Juanjo, told us that he was not religious but that Corpus Cristi was a sight to behold and gave him goosebumps. 

I do believe him when he says that Corpus Christi is something special but I witnessed something that I was not expecting. The parade today was different from any parade I have ever seen. All the locals hurried to the front and gathered on the sides of the streets waiting for the hilariously ugly but also spectacular parade. 

Me and the people I was with ran to find our Professor only to run into a big headed doll and a whole parade set up behind them. Once finding a spot directly in the sun, I danced to the fun beats of the drums and I swear my smile would grow bigger; I didn’t even think that a local parade would make me smile that much and it hadn’t even started. 

Photo by John W Bailly at Toledo Parade / CC by 4.0

Once it did, the whole place changed. We were sent back in time and all of a sudden I was not some girl visiting from Miami but a local celebrating a yearly celebration. I watched as the band started moving and playing exciting beats. Once the first band passed some scary and big headed dolls came waving. They were famous religious figures that are important to catholic history. Following that came the dragon which squirted water directly at us and on top it carried a puppet doll of one of the many wives of Henry the VIII (which according to two sweet old ladies, everyone in Spain hates). The parade continued in a similar fashion; Giant dolls and bands played through the town. At the end of the parade right behind the last band, we inserted ourselves into the parade. We followed the band joking around, dancing, laughing and having the times of our lives. 

Even if the idea of a parade is childish, I would not want it any other way. It is often good to let go and let yourself be a child again. Not everything has a grade, or a deadline or a reason sometimes it just is and we have to let it be that. Being in that parade was exciting and fun and it brought me closer to people I did not know before 2022. I will never forget the day I was in a parade in Toledo with my arm linked in Juli’s, Seba jokingly waving like a prince, Nicole smiling wide and the professor just watching us probably proud that his students are experiencing what Spain truly is. I will forever and always keep that memory with me and I hope to never lose it. 

Photo by John W Bailly at Toledo Parade / CC by 4.0

Granada As Text

“Better Than Any Disney Castle”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Granada, España, June 21, 2022

The movies and TV shows taught us that castles are supposed to be grand and take your breath away from the very first glance. It happened to Rapunzel when she saw the castle in Tangled. 

Those people were left speechless as I probably would’ve been. Walking up to the Alhambra, I saw nothing special; just another stone building which was gonna have a similar history as every other stone building in Spain. 

It might have a similar hirtosy but the Alhambra is something that does not compare to any Disney castle. The initial walk in is normal, nothing much but after the first walkway you walk into something mind blowing. 

There’s mosaics that might’ve not taken long but amaze even the most intelligent people. The ceilings are made up of squares that spiral into the heavens. The subtleness of religion is at points better representative of God and his power than the baroque pieces and exaggerated paintings. 

The Alhambra leaves people like me in awe. Every step I took was a new masterpiece. I never thought of myself as minimalistic and growing up I was told that God had to be represented in the most extreme ways but that’s not true. I see God more in the mosaics of the alcazar and in the hints at 7. Catholicism, though it is my faith, has proven to be an extreme religion in the sense that they need to be above all; at least in the 1400’s-1800’s. 

The Alhambra is the most incredible but most humble form of praising God. In its simplest form, it is perfect. There was no need for more. 

Sevilla As Text

Photo by Leah Daire at Sevilla Cathedral roof / CC by 4.0

“Unforgettable City”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Sevilla, España, June 23, 2022

Sevilla was above any expectation I had. Before leaving Miami, I was told Sevilla was beautiful and nice. Those people were not wrong but they did underplay the city. 

As soon as our bus drove into Macarena, Sevilla was something to experience. The Islamic influence is spread out through the town with white buildings lined with bright colors and in important buildings like the Giralda. 

Photo by Jeanine Prado of the Giralda Tower / CC by 4.0

Sevilla is in the province of Andalucía and is the capital of it. Sevilla had the three religions (Catholicism, Judaism and Islam) living there and in modern times it is evident to us. Sevilla is actually full of wonderful things that people often forget about like the Plaza de España which lost its chance to shine when the Great Depression stopped it from being used. 

I won’t forget Sevilla. I can see myself habiting a space there and joining the locals in their daily life. I could be having my morning coffee day outside watching all the Sevillanos pass me by.  I want 1 am to come by and I’m laughing over beers with my friends. I want to romanticize a city that shouldn’t be romanticized, especially not one that applauds Columbus and bans Jews and takes over islamic communities. 

Photo by Jeanine Prado at the roof of the Sevilla Catedral / CC by 4.0

Now the city may be heading a more liberal direction and the views have changed but that does not erase the years of abuse. 

Sevilla has its positives like how it was the gateway to the Spanish Indies but it did have its negatives.

I love Sevilla not for its beauty but for its deep history that has seemed to entangle itself in the modernity of today’s times. I loved Sevilla and I won’t forget it. 

Photo by Jeanine Prado of the Sevilla city / CC by 4.0

Sitges As Text

“Simple Perfection”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Sitges, España, June 26, 2022

One of my favorite day trips had to be the one we took to Sitges; a beautiful little beach town just a short train ride away from Barcelona. Stepping off the train and onto the rocky road you can feel the calmness and good-natured vibe that Sitges offers. The town left me in love with it; from Rusiñol’s house to the simple beach, all of it was unexpectedly perfect.

The house of Santiago Rusiñol sits unsuspectingly waiting for visitors to be amazed by the inside. The Moderniste inspiration is visible; all his paintings are crammed into the walls yet not one overpowers the other. You can look around and find from the most complex to the most simple pieces and they all awe you. His four pieces bought from a young Picasso are not placed in protective glass or are name plaqued, his painting just sit there on the wall an arm reach away. There is a simple beauty in his house that is only replicated by few. 

Charles Deering fell into the same awe I did as he did not hesitate to offer a bid to Rusiñol for the house. After a strong and heartset no, Deering did the next best thing and bought all the surrounding real estate which included Sitges’s old hospital. Deering wanted Sitges to be the art centre of Spain and tried his best to do it until World War II stopped him from returning to Europe. 

Even without becoming the art centre of Spain or changing much since Deering’s time there; Sitges remains an important and very special place for Spain. In a heartbeat I would go back and relive the day I had there. I’d walk around in my black dress and heels, I’ll drink the expensive cava, I’ll eat the caesar salad and Andalucia style calamaris and I’ll spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach. If there was a perfect day of this program for me it would be the Sitges day. 

Barcelona As Text

“Unexpected Uniqueness”

By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Barcelona, España, June 29, 2022

Since beginning this program the place I wanted to go the most was Barcelona. Maybe it was because of the shopping I knew I was gonna get to do there or the beach but something about Barcelona always seemed to excite me.

The capital of Catalunya is more than I would have expected. 

There is beauty at every corner of Barcelona. The moderniste art that encapsulates the city is unbelievably special and beautiful. Architect Antoni Gaudí once said: “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.” These words are evident in two of his biggest architectural achievements: La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. 

La Sagrada Familia is a beautiful spectacle inside and out. Outside is decorated to the extreme with the Birth of Christ and the Passion. My favorite is the forest inside that is oddly simple but ideally complex. The stained glass windows provide a gorgeous glow while also depicting the two sides of Christ. 

Park Guell is a lot less complex but still impresses me. Gaudí abandoned the idea of riches and having to use the most expensive things in his build and used basically garbage to build Park Guell. It was packed with people wanting pictures of themselves next to moderniste art pieces that seemed to be part of a dinner plate set. 

I for one loved Barcelona for the shopping and the beach but also for its uniqueness. If it’s walking through Las Ramblas or up a hill or through a random neighborhood, Barcelona will exceed expectations just like it did mine. 

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