Juliana Cuneo: España as Text 2022

Photograph taken by Juliana Cuneo/ CC by 4.0

Juliana M. Cuneo is a Junior at Florida International University, majoring in Psychology and the possibilities of obtaining a minor in Social Work. With a passion for landscape and floral photography, working with people, traveling and indoor rock climbing, Juliana aspires to work in a field that centers around helping children through the use of their creativity and activities to improve their well-being. In traveling, Juliana has gained distinct cultural perspectives and through various Special Education courses gained a deeper appreciation and empathy for young kids and adolescents that seek help in their life. She has great desire to make change for all those who have not been in a community that has been supportive of them and is eager too, one step at a time, spread optimism through her actions.

Madrid as Text 2022

Photos taken by John W. Bailey /CC by 4.0

“Commercialism on the Streets”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at El Rastro, 12 June 2022

El Rastro de Madrid cuts right through la Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores standing as one of the largest traditional flea markets in Madrid. How did the name “Rastro”, translating in English to “the trail”, come about? An unpleasant tail, yet a true one. Years ago animals were slaughtered at a slaughterhouse in the area and taken on wagons through the street leaving a trail of blood. Madrid’s earliest dated map called the Plano de Witt which appeared in the 1600s depicted the location and name of El Rastro. Dating til now becoming one of the most popular places to be at on a Sunday near the center of Madrid with your friends and family to see what knick knack appear under the rumble of tangible trinkets.

Photos taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

The experience of purchasing goods at a flea market like El Rastro is incomparable to that of a commercial center or a mall. What can be found at each vendor’s section can vary from antique pendants, religious ornaments, anime posters, old film cameras, classic chinaware and so much more. Evenso, remarkably embodying the endless mindset. When a person feels that it has come to an end,  they are met head front with the opportunity that there is even more to discover. One could not get enough of what was to be encountered as you would walk into each tent and realize how economically affordable everything was in comparison to our normal routine of going to a mall. A scenario that exemplified how cheap the vendors were was when we were able to purchase three abanicos (hand fans), a shot glass, three coasters, three little coin purses, and a small hand mirror for 15 euros total. I was in complete shock as I strolled up the main street and came across the low prices. Prices that would never be seen for the same quality in a brand name store. For the same products they are being sold on a profit-oriented strategy in those stores, whereas that approach is not being utilized in the flea market to the exact degree. 

Photo taken by Elsa Chung /CC by 4.0

The exchange between the customer and the vendor is the essence of this experience. The ability to learn the story behind a clothing piece or a medallion from the Soviet Union instead of purchasing it online or in-store with no context morphs the meaning of the item. It becomes increasingly valuable and memorable to the owner. The atmosphere that occupied the space was welcoming and invitational. Sellers are joyous to learn about where you are from and hear your story as well that gives meaning to them about why you are intrigued in buying. The encounter becomes ten times more intimate. You are also given the freedom to explore the concept of negotiation with areas of the market that cannot be explored in highly commercial areas that have a set price. But, while negotiation is available that does not mean it should be abused. Because while the person does not want to pay overboard, neither does the vendor want to not make profit. 

Becoming further acquainted with Spaniard locals is what being abroad consists of. Not remaining confined to one’s own perspectives, people, and stories but allowing for that exchange of information alongside the shopping experience to unravel. The environment of El Rastro fertilizes a community to be strengthened. 


Toledo as Text 2022

Photo taken by John W. Bailly /CC by 4.0

“Taken Back to Medieval Times”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Toledo, 15 June 2022

     Acquainted with the utmost amount of love from two women of Toledo on the balcony of Calle Hombre de Palo. Setting up a floral tapestry the day prior to Corpus Christi ensuring that this one singular tapestry was perfectly aligned. Each safety pin adjusted to meet their level of perfection. An exchange of words was communicated as I complimented their work and was then asked if I was from Las Canarias. This conversation amounted to a meaningful experience of connecting with a local and being told if I was Spaniard. From a Spaniard being told that you have a Spaniard accent equated to “making it” with my progression of Spanish as a second language. These two precious souls had no idea the weight of their words. Embodying a familiar essence that was similar in character to Cuban origins in mannerisms and words.

Screenshot 2022-06-18 231229
Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

 One walked down the steps of the apartment building to tell of how there would be a parade happening later that evening that would commence from the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo and continue through the streets. Featuring a mythological creature called the Tarasca that adopted the form of a green dragon; including, a small spinning doll that represents the second wife of King Henry VII,  Anne Bolyn. Spaniards deeply dislike this wife for her acts of committing treason, leading to her eventual beheading. This short timed interaction where she highly encouraged my attendance to this parade will not be forgotten. Without her informative spirit the following experience would not have been made plausible.

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

 Rushing to the principle street directed adjacent of the Catedral stood hundreds of locals making way for the parade to start. Excitement bubbling inside. Sentiments of great appreciation to be at the forefront of this monumental event. Musicians playing beats that made the human physique move alongside at the touch of each instrument. Setting the atmosphere with the sounds of beautiful instrumental melodies that ignited the soul. As the procession started, gigantones (above average human figures) walked and danced behind the musicians. Watching history pass right in front of our eyes was mesmerizing. Transported to medieval times with visuals and sounds down the cobblestone pathway. My entire world shifted in that moment as I was able to walk behind the musicians myself in this parade and become part of the community with the locals, us standing as the only tourists. 

     Cordoba as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

“Religious Architecture Conversion: Approved or Disapproved?”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Córdoba , 18 June 2022

The Mosque of Cordoba currently resonates as a Cathedral in the city of Cordoba, region of Andalusia. How is that plausible when Mosque is in the title? How is it a cathedral? A juxtaposition in itself. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is also interchangeably referred to as Mezquita-Catedral where there is a meeting of two religious entities, Islam and Christianity. A practicing catholic church, yet its roots are of Islamic faith. As we entered the site with the tour guide I was astonished by the arches that hovered above us that never once before had I been met with such beauty of that kind. Accustomed to stained glass windows and ornamented walls with Saints and the Virgin Mary. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

An experience that made me question how my fellow classmates who were Muslim feel about the place that we step foot in. Were they met with a sensation of uttermost respect or did they feel bad for being in a place that preserved the name Mosque and its facade but disapproved of any practicing of Islam. The tour guide had mentioned multiple times that the small Muslim community that was left in Cordoba was grateful for the fact that there was a conversion of the mosque into a church in 1236. Because, the mosque was going to be destroyed because any muslim dominated site was being destroyed so the Catholic Church took over with their power and preserved the Mosque. However, my issue lies in that at the time of conversion there seemed to be pure intentions by converting in order to preserve; but, why do they not allow Muslims to currently practice there?

At the end of the tour, I stepped up to the guide and asked:

Do you really believe that the Muslim community is grateful to the Catholic Church for changing it into a Cathedral?

To which she replied:

Yes, I have multiple friends that are Muslim who explain to me that they feel proud to have a site preserved that emblems their fath and have it not destroyed, even at the cost of not being able to kneel down and practice.

Sevilla as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

“Historical figures buried at our footstep”

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Sevilla , 19 June 2022

Christopher Columbus. Cristóbal Colón. The weight that this one name holds. This historical figure whose narrative was ingrained in the United States educational system, not a soul being unaware of who he is. The whole debate continues to this day to whether or not he was a hero. Also, varying based on who you ask and from what generation they are from because that can highly skew the perspective they have on this man. Factually, he was an Italian navigator that was born in the mid 1400s and passed away right away at the start of the 1500s. He also did in fact add to the exploration of the world and the colonization of the New World. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

After all that I had learned about him for years nothing seemed more immensely powerful than having him in the same room as me. His body. The carcass remains that were DNA approved to be housed in a tomb in the Catedral de Sevilla. I could not process the notion and vivid experience of standing next to a figure that has been written in thousands of textbooks. Peers believing that it could not be real that the remains of Mr. Christopher Columbus was several footsteps from us. Truly insane to process it to the fullest extent that something like that could be possible.

How someone so heavily researched could be inhabiting the same room as us? I continue to want to explore other famous sites that are inhabited by historical figures that while personally may not have the created significance, but intellectually hold a great deal of depth.

Barcelona as Text 2022

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

By Juliana Cuneo of FIU at Palau de la Musica, 24 June 2022

Palau de la Musica Catalana. A music hall that features the Modernisme style. An architectural style that moves away from the prominently seen Roman, Mudejar, and Gothic style that was visited in other cities like Madrid and Sevilla. A movement created in Europe that exemplified the Catalan identity in the 20th century featuring artists like Antoni Gaudi and Lluis Domench that attempted to steer away from past or recurring art styles as a medium to change the present society.

What captured the interest of visitors, like me, to the Modernisme style presented by the palace/venue? The invitational sense tied to the entrance of the concert hall and the beautiful colors were welcoming and a breath of fresh air in comparison to many of the famous cathedrals and historically significant buildings spread throughout Spain. Not to claim that the gothic cathedrals were not extraordinarily impressive, they were; however, something touched the heart with the liveliness, colorful, and nature aspect of Modernisme. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

The central stained glass piece ornamented by the sun allowed for natural light to be the essential element to interact with the interior space of the concert auditorium of the Palau de la Musica. Stained glass to this degree of color can be viewed at the Sagrada Familia on the sides of the cathedral where an intense pour of color spreads highlighting an immense amount of contrast. Personally, stained glass should be an element of architecture that should be implemented in the majority of interior architectural spaces to add the motif of light and expanding space instead of the feeling of confinement, limitation, and darkness. 

Photo taken by Juliana Cuneo /CC by 4.0

The attention to detail to appeal to the outdoors with rose and sun flowers represented on the mosaics and columns. There is an experience where music and nature mesh creating a journey for the audience to experience. The organ made deep sounds in what was considered a small space for a hall at the time. This building was able to capture so much beauty with a low budget when compared to other structures whose expenses were incomparable. Modernisme set in stone a movement that added color to la vida. A moment for artists to stray in a different direction and learn materials that could be utilized at a low cost.

Sitges as Text 2022

Across the Atlantic Ocean, setting sail from the Deering Estate in South Florida to Charles Deering home in the coastal town of Sitges, Spain. Visiting a home of his in Miami to visiting a home of his in Europe, both after he no longer resides in them, but still maintaining historical aspects that can be noted by paintings and artistry kept. Initially, the building was a private hospital/residency that was converted into a mansion by the engineer and artist Miquel Utrillo. 

The upper level of the newly made house and Maricel museum, separated by a thin cobblestone road, featured blue tiles to represent what was right across, the ocean and its waves. The views from the rooftop were stunning as in every direction you viewed beauty – mountains and the sea.

A small detail, but one of notice. On a white column at the top stood a vertical section that featured Christopher Columbus on one side and Native Americans from what is now named the United States of America. What details are chosen to be placed around a house commissioned by Mr. Deering and why? Are they deliberately done in order to demonstrate their knowledge of history or their perspectives on the narratives of events?

Charles Deering wanted this house also to store all the artworks he had collected that included three small works by Picasso and paintings by Goya. Also, gothic altar pieces and sculptures that demonstrated the Catholic church with religion. A private home like this one in Sitges in the location near the water placed a mark on social standing of having wealth. This one home holds much significance in the beauty of the architectural style of maintaining white color to flow with the rest of the Sitges area and ceramic bricks; and, holding a collection of Hispanic works.

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