Anusha Ghaffar: Ida España 2022

Ida: Spain Imperialism by Anusha Ghaffar

Photo By Aliza Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

Anusha Ghaffar is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing her degree in Nutritional Sciences. She is a first generation student and her future goal is to be on Optometrist, and she will be attending Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry starting fall of 2022. Anusha is in the Honors College, participating in the Spain study abroad program, as she loves to travel and broaden her mindset about the world. She is excited about the various things she will learn in this course, especially about the culture and history in Spain and how they influence one another around the world. 


Spain’s overseas territories (1516-1714) (C.C 4.0) (1)

Since Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492, Spain had been a leading European country in the 15th and 16th century to occupy and control lands in the name of prosperity, wealth, and world domination (Simpson, Victoria). Spain had held colonies in multiple continents including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Their underlying goal was to spread the one true religion, which was Christianity, and this started from the fall of Granada.

Christopher Columbus wishing farewell to to Queen Isabella I before leaving to the new world. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-pga-02392) (C.C 4.0) (2)

The phrase “the empire in which the sun never sets” is widely known to be a saying for the British empire, but before the British became so powerful, that phrase was used on the Spanish empire, as it held 35 colonies in many points throughout its history (Simpson, Victoria).

The impact Spain imperialism has until this day is still widely prevalent, as our very own class proves it to this day. Majority of the class is from the Hispanic origin, most being Cuban and some being for Peru. From their mother tongue spoken as Spanish to a Spanish last name, it all goes back to Spain. This makes brings to question what is true to specific countries identities, as everything in Cuba can originate back to Spain. From the croquets to empanadas, nothing is original, rather changed subtly to match the style of the country’s identity. The real question is, which country’s Croquet’s are better, the original Spain ones or the Cuban ones, which are now available in Miami probably with their own twist and culture.

Fall of Granada

Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, La Rendición de Granada (oil on canvas, 1882).
Francisco Pradilla Ortiz, La Rendición de Granada (oil on canvas, 1882). (3) (C.C 4.0)

The battle of Granada was a key feature in the commencement of Spanish imperialism. This battle led to the end of Moorish rule in Spain, which concluded the Reconquista which was a campaign from the Christians states to expel the Moors. On January 2, 1492, the city of Granada was given to Castile and Aragon forces from Sultan Boabdil who surrendered (“Fall of Granada”). This left Muslims with the loss of the Alhambra Palace, which is a big cost for the Islamic world. The coexisting society of Muslims, Jews and Christians came to an end, resulting in Spanish, and Portuguese forces to seize land overseas to make their own. This was derived by Christopher Columbus and backed by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand who pushed the agenda of Spanish superiority to the new world (“Fall of Granada”).  

Paella Image by Sally Vargas (7) (C.C 4.0)

The end of the Moorish empire did not end the influence it had on Spain. The influence impacted Spain cuisine, causing the integration of new foods mashed with the Arab region foods, adapting new cooking techniques. Paella is an example of modern Spanish cuisine with Moorish inspiration within it. Spain’s past is depicted with this dish as the mixing of both produces and cooking techniques from both cultures are prevalent. It contains rice, meats, vegetables, and spices and contain chicken, rabbit, and seafood. Since Spain is on the Iberian Peninsula, seafood is a staple to represent the mash of the cultures (Leigh Ann Copeland).

Columbus Sails

Although Granada uses January 2nd as a day to celebrate, it is a day of mourning within the Muslim world. Columbus referred to himself as the fall of Granada, as at that point of history the Spanish were convinced it was their duty to convert everyone to “true religion” which they believed was Catholicism (“Fall of Granada”).  Using the spiritual excuse, they acquired a variety of goods to make their country riches, such as metals from South America. They had attacked the Americas with a bible in one hand and a sword in another, claiming to acquire all this wealth with the mentality that God wants the place to be saved, with no regard for the blood in their hands. It is simply justified that the Natives needed to be saved, hence driving them forth to invade their lands and strip them of their culture, and using force to keep pushing them off. The Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas were just a few native groups that were victims to this. These civilizations stretched from Mexico down to the tip of south America, and the Spanish had not only stripped them of their language and culture, but also their dignity as they raped and stole from them.


During Christopher Columbus’ voyage in exploring the Bahamas, he landed near Cape Canaveral and named it “La Florida” under Spain. He explored the Florida peninsula going from Biscayne Bay, then returned to Puerto Rico. Biscayne Bay was occupied by the Tequesta tribe, later in 1528 Tampa Bay was discovered by Pánfilo de Narváez and went North from there. In 1564, Protestants established a colony along the St. Johns River which is now Jacksonville. St. Augustine was founded by kicking the French out of the area and making it a Spanish colony. Throughout Florida, there were a diverse number of Native Americans groups, and there were different missions set up to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism which was a key reason for Spain imperialism to begin with (“The Spanish Colonization of Florida”).

 Spanish influence is highly prevalent today, as even in Miami it seems that English is a second language after Spanish. Miami is filled with a variety of hispanics. St. Augustine is an example of a Spanish colony, as its city’s grand plaza, its narrow cobblestone streets, and Castillo de San Marcos are all a reflection of a Spanish town. The Coquina Forest was built by the Spanish in 1672 to protect its treasures from the pirates of England.

Downtown Miami, resembles Spain architecture and patios Photo by: Anusha Ghaffar (C.C 4.0)

Just traveling through Florida, it is quickly noticed how the buildings and homes have a certain style with their tile’s roofs, courtyards and arches which all reflect Spanish architecture. The selection of Spanish restaurants is endless, in which they provide foods from yellow rice to guava pastries, and chicken. Juan Ponce de Leon would never have imagined how his claim brought back food, architecture, art, clothing, language, and music from his home.

Spanish claim of Florida came to an end in 1763, when Spain traded Florida for little Havana with the British, but it was given back in 1784. In 1818, Andrew Jackson had led the US army to begin the First Seminole war, and Spanish soldiers could not defend the border. This led to Spain agreeing to give Florida with the exchange of the US paying Spanish debt. After 300 years of Spanish rule, Florida became a part of the United States in 1821 (“The Spanish Colonization of Florida”). Although Spain does not occupy Florida anymore, its influence is highly noticeable to this day.


Alta California Missions (C.C 4.0) (4)

California, Florida, and New England were prominent states occupied by Spain before the British came. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first Spaniard to arrive in 1542 and named the place Alta California. It took 200 years to have a permeant European settlement when a Presidio, a fortified base to gain control, was built. This did not last long as Mexico gained its independence shortly, and California became a Mexican province. As Spanish settlers arrived, there was an exchange of many microbes and germs as a result. The natives got infected with smallpox, influenza, dysentery, malaria, measles, and syphilis. These diseases had a significant toll on the Native Americans, as their population went down by for than two-thirds. This caused a weaker group, leading to disrupted families, communities, trade, and as a result weakened their resistance to Spain occupation. Together the Spanish and natives had a dynamic mixed with violence, unfamiliarity, and fragility (“1768-1820s: Exploration and Colonial California”).

The uneasiness of the relationship was due to how Spaniards had advanced weaponry and manufactured goods, while the natives had knowledge of the land. Many natives also joined Spanish missions, but then they were not allowed to leave. This led to breakouts of violence, and uprisings in the area.  In 1821, Mexico had gained independence from Spain, and Alta California became a province in Mexico. In 1846 the bear flag rebellion began, which was the first aggression that attempted to separate California from Mexico. As gold was discovered, this changed the course of events and led miners to the state. The riches brought a vast number of immigrants to the area, leading to California becoming its own state in 1850 (“Introduction–Early History”).


Mexico is a country in North America that had a wide variety of influence from Spanish imperialism. It is now a country with its own culture, music, and foods. Mexico used to be occupied with Indigenous groups, majority being Mayans, Aztecs, and Toltecs before Columbus’ discovery. In 1521, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztec empire and made Mexico Spain’s territory. Spain had their claim on Mexico until the Mexican war of independence in 1821, where the Mexicans had won.

Although the influence of the indigenous tribes exists today to an extent, Spanish is the first language of Mexico and majority of the people practice Catholicism brought from Europe. Spanish architecture is still seen in Mexico to this day, just like it is in Florida and California. Although Spanish culture overpowers the Aztecs and Mayan culture, they are still intertwined today. Spain introduced the Aztec empire to domestic animals, farming practices from Europe, sugar, grains, and ended the Aztec practice of human sacrifice.

The enlightenment was occurring in Spain, which was an intellectual movement in the 1800s and 1900s where a variety of books, essays, inventions, science, revolutions were occurring that influenced the west and developed into art, politics, and philosophy. Spain brought these ideas to Mexico and spread an abundance of knowledge, specifically on mining and agriculture (Simpson, Victoria).


Cuba is a country that has warped Spanish culture into its own after being colonized by Spain in 1511. Through Spain’s occupation in Cuba, Cuba was becoming the world’s largest sugar producer. Spain had been importing African slaves, and by 1840 there were about half a million slaves in Cuba, making about 60% of its population black. The Cubans were not happy with the Spanish rule and had started the 10 Year War with Spain to overthrow their power. In 1878, they had finally earned their independence but had a long way to recover from the civilization they had attained due to Spain. They followed the Cortes, which is the Spanish parliament. Six years after their independence, slavery was also ended there, creating a more equal rights structure compared to America (“Cuba in 1898”).

ten years' war Cuba
10 year war for Cuba’s independence from Spain (C.C 4.0) (5)

The Spanish American War

Did Yellow Journalism Fuel the Outbreak of the Spanish-American War? -  HISTORY
Yellow Journalism in the U.S., Library of Congress (C.C 4.0) (6)

The Spanish American war took place in 1898 which ended Spanish colonial rule, getting the U.S to acquire many different territories. This war began due to the Cuban struggling to gain independence from Spain. Yellow Journalism, which is a term used as fake news, was used to gain sympathy for the Cubans from the U.S., and U.S. citizens pushed for an intervention. The war commenced from the push of the U.S. battleship USS Maine sinking. The Spanish were not prepared for this war, and it was one sided from the U.S. After a series of wars, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898, and Spain backed off from their claims in Cuba, and ceded Guam and Puerto Rico. They also gave the Philippines for $20 million. This war and how they gained land helped the U.S. become a superpower of the world. It also resulted in Spain turning their attention away from their colonies overseas and focusing on its own country’s needs. This led them to develop economically, culturally, and with their literacy (“Spanish-American War.”)

Long Lasting Effects

Spain is a prevalent part of the America’s history, to the point where their language is spoken in various countries today as their official language. It all started with their goal to spread their true religion of Christianity. This led to them kicking the Moors out of Spain, while taking their culture with them. The surrender of Granada was the tip of what led to the exploration of Americas by Christopher Columbus. That led to various countries and places being imperialized by Spain, including Florida, California, Mexico, Cuba, and many more. The fall of Spain imperialism was when they lost the Spanish-American war, losing their last colonies, and pushing the U.S. to a world power. The influence it has left in these countries are still prevalent in this day. Columbus would never have imagined how his exploration brought forth food, architecture, art, clothing, language, and music from his home.


“1768-1820s: Exploration and Colonial California.” Calisphere,

“Cuba in 1898.” Cuba in 1898 – The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress),

“Fall of Granada.” Visit the Main Page,

“Introduction–Early History of the California Coast–a National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,,first%20Europeans%20to%20visit%20California.

Leigh Ann Copeland. “Spanish.” Can I Have Some Moor? A Look at Moorish Influence on Spanish Cuisine – Global Foodways, 10 Dec. 2017,,of%20Spain%20and%20the%20Moors.

Simpson, Victoria. “Former Spanish Colonies of the World.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 29 Aug. 2020,

“The Spanish Colonization of Florida.” HistoryMiami Museum,

“Spanish-American War.”, A&E Television Networks, 14 May 2010,

Picture References:


Anusha Ghaffar: Vuelta España 2022

Photo By Jena Nassar (CC by 4.0)

Anusha Ghaffar is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing her degree in Nutritional Sciences. She is a first generation student and her future goal is to be on Optometrist, and she will be attending Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry starting fall of 2022. Anusha is in the Honors College, and participated in the Spain study abroad program, as she loves to travel and broaden her mindset about the world.

Ironic Admiration

Photos By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU at Spain in 2022.

Spain’s history has the tendency of repetition and theme. This theme being kicking out the minorities yet stealing their work. Traveling throughout Spain gave firsthand evidence, as the history felt like a repeating tape.

Spanish Reconquista is the answer to this repetition of history, although it may be bold to call it history as the aspects are remaining of it to this day. Reconquista began in the 700s when Spain and Portugal decided they wanted to kick the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula named Al-Andalus and spread Christianity. The Reconquista ended after 800 years, when Granada had been surrendering in 1492 by Boabdil, the Sultan of Granada, and head of the Nasrid Dynasty. This had commenced the ending of a modern society of coexistence of various religions working together to create a society of coexistence (“Reconquista”).

The Moorish rule allowed differences to exist together, creating a union rather than the separation that was evident after their rule. The conquest created a civilization that divided one another through mental barriers of differences and tried to repress those who fall out of line of their one true religion of Christianity (“Reconquista”).

The end of the Moorish rule was the end of the Golden Age. This was when libraries, colleges, public baths were developed, along with various literature, architecture, and poetry. This was also an age of tolerance between religions, and there was peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians which seems unheard of following the Reconquista and inquisition history of Spain staining periods like the golden age (“Religions – Islam: Muslim Spain (711-1492)”).

Madrid’s name stems from the word Magerit, which means “land rich in water” in Arabic. Madrid was in the Moorish rule until 1083 when Alfonso VI took over the city. This underdeveloped city became the capital of Spain in 1561. (“Madrid”).

Sunset at Sol. Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

The city of Sol is one of the most touristy city in Spain, containing Puerta de Sol which is the most famous central squares in Madrid. This city was outpouring with tourists, filled with international name brands across the streets and also food chain corporations. This is not that common outside of Sol, as outside, there are more local brands. Sol does not define the rest of Madrid and Spain, it feels like an American city with an intense heat wave overlooking it. It is a gentrified part of Spain, designed to attract tourists, although it is ironic because it is more like their own home than Spain.

The Palacio Real is the largest palace in Europe. It used to be the old Alacazar, which was a Moorish palace but was replaced by a Christian Palace but was then burnt down in 1734. The Cathedral of Segovia had prevalent Moorish designs engraved in its walls. The Alcazar de Segovia used to be a Moorish fortress turned into a castle where Queen Isabella herself lived.

Palacio Real.
Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

All these major historic architecture and tourist attraction has one thing in common; they used to be owned by Muslims. In history it is common to take over a land and gentrify it to the liking of the ruler, but Spain had the tendency of admiration of the property yet removing the ones who created it. The Alcazar de Segovia is a prime example of this, as the entire insides were completely Moorish designs and Queen Isabella clearly admired the designs. There was a painting inside the castle where there was a man killing a Muslim looking man inside the palace. This was very ironic as the whole castle was Islamic art, yet the hatred of Muslims is never overlooked. Queen Isabella got the people who inspired this art pushed out and tortured for believing in the religion. It is mind boggling of how her admiration of the art does not stem some consideration or sympathy to the people who once ruled the society and made Spain how it is to this day.

Toledo was the capital was the Moorish kingdom until 1058 to King Alfonso. This unique city is known to be the most representative of Spain’s culture. Santa Maria la Blanca was a synagogue that was built with mudejar design but was then converted to a church. Walking in, it was amazing to see three prevalent religions aligned like that, as it was constantly repeated how rare it is to see the three religions coexist. This reflected what society can be if it is looked at with an open mind, understanding, and admiration. This synagogue represents an extremely rare collision (“Toledo”). The Toledo Cathedral was built on top of a mosque with mudejar architecture. It is now easier to decipher the common theme and repetition of Spain’s history. Muslim culture and art turned into Christianity’s advantage while the Muslims were removed from their homes.

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.
Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

Exploring Cordoba was a turning point for everyone. This city was a sad wake up call to the extent of Christian superiority in Spain. It was not until seeing the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba did many eyes open of the extent of the Inquisition and Reconquista. It was evident in everyone’s eyes and reaction. This Mosque-Cathedral used to be a mosque, but the Cathedral had “evidence” of remains that this was a church beforehand, which historians have disproved. The Qiblah in this mosque was South instead of Southeast to Mecca like normal mosques. The magnificent calligraphy in the darkness made the gold shine brighter and created a more dramatic look with the light shining from the dome on top. The arches and calligraphy were hidden in the darkness, standing next to sculptures of Jesus. It was very shuddering to see a mosque like this. The middle of a mosque stood the cathedral part standing out like a sore thumb. The higher walls and bright white illumination of the walls gave a very subtle message in a clear way. Christianity is higher and brighter than Islam. It was hard to look away from all the glamour that had been placed all the way to the high ceilings. The mosque portion was dull and dark, yet the calligraphy was still left. Why didn’t they just destroy the mosque? Although it is seen as disrespectful, the mosque ruminants would not be up right now if the Catholics did not keep it up. The Arabic calligraphy was still up because no one could see it regardless. It was all dark back then, and if one did go there, they would be a suspect of the inquisition. It is ironic how they kept the mosque to show how they are the better religion, because now it can also be seen as a prime example of the extent of Reconquista and how admiration of Muslim art was also a source of mockery in the way that it was stolen.

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Giralda Bell Tower
Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

The Cathedral of Sevilla was also a mosque beforehand. This was obvious with its mudejar design and the outside portion that used to be a washing area for Muslims to make Wudu, which is ablution to cleanse oneself with water. This is one of the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. The site was destroyed from a mosque and a church was built on top, leaving only the Giralda Belltower, formerly a minaret. This is another prime example of the theme of Spain, which was religion erasure. Each grand cathedral proved it after another. The Moorish design in the walls of the cathedral says a lot about the representation on Muslims in the country. Christopher Columbus’ ruminants were here, and it is satirical, as he discovered the America’s the day the Moorish empire fell in Granada. Here he was buried in a church that was a mosque that is designed with Islamic art.

The Alhambra
Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

Granada was the last part of Moorish history before it was given to the Christians. The Alhambra, the red fort, was built by the Nasrid Dynasty and shows the Moorish and Andalusian culture and magnificent architecture to depict the history and grandeur of the Moorish empire and rule. The carved calligraphy and domes created a deep meaning in every room visited there. Every inch of the fort all entailed the idea that God is great and there is only one god. Every corner turned there was a subtle yet rippling reminder of the greatness of God, and there is no other building that can beautifully reflect the message being delivered. The beauty of the fort was hypnotizing, with the view of the different communities the fort overlooked. Generalife is the real life depiction of 2:25 from the Quran “..gardens, underneath which running waters flow..” The gardens were least to say beautiful, and if this was this alluring, then what will heaven look like? (“The Alhambra (Alhambra Palace Spain)”)

Park Guell
Photo By Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

Modernisme is to Catalonia as Mudejar is to Muslims. Modernisme is a type of art that is apart of Catalonian identity. This form of art is prevalent in one of the most famous tourist attractions in Spain: La Sagrada Familia. Park Guell has broken up pieces of glass to create beautiful glass mosaics overlooking the city of Barcelona. The art shown throughout Barcelona gives the city its own sense of identity, with the architecture chanting the presence of the Catalonians, who still want independence. Being under Spain, it is very refreshing to see how architecture can yield the origins of what makes Spain unique. It’s through the suppressions of other cultures that bring out the beauty and potential inside. It may not be the ethical way to have great art, but Spain loves to repeat its history and take credit disregarding consideration of where the credit belongs (“Modernisme”)

Self reflection:

 Being a Muslim in Spain has left me in emotional turmoil. The feelings spectrum ranges from admiration, to anger, to sadness, to pride. One of the first things I noticed was how there was pork in EVERYTHING. Eating was a challenge as the language barrier made it harder to ask for items without pork. This made me question why Spain had pork in everything. Was it due to the inquisition to prove that the Muslims and Jews who had supposedly converted to Christianity were fully converted? Or was it just because there were a lot of pigs everywhere? After researching, Pork is big part of Spanish heritage, but the consumption of pork became even more common during and after the Spanish inquisition.  The three options Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand gave was to convert to Catholicism, leave, or burn at the stake. To show that they were Catholics, people started to hang pork legs outside their house. Also, to prove they converted many were watched while eating pork (“Conversos and Moriscos: Tyranny of Food. 2016”).

Photos By Anusha Ghaffar and Jena Nassar (CC by 4.0)

Throughout the trip, I got close to the whole class very fast. It started with curiosity to know where I was from and my religion which had been constantly mentioned throughout the trip. Although everyone was from a different ethnic background than me, they had no hesitation in learning about my culture and ask me questions about Islam. My whole life living as a minority, no one really cared to ask about my religion and culture and why I do things the way I do. This group made me feel included and helped me gain a sense of pride of my background. Their open mindedness helped clear their confusion about groups they had no real perspectives on, and I find it beautiful that I helped them do it. We concluded that we have way more in common culturally and religiously than it may ever seem and our roots with immigrant backgrounds give even more relatability. This diverse group is an example of coexisting, admiration, understanding, and sympathy. The mental barriers of difference were nonexistent here. I learned a lot about myself throughout this trip because of them, and the joy gained from explaining my roots was indescribable. Learning this history left me in awe in how amazing Muslims were and are and was refreshing seeing our work. The class also taught me that with support and motivation, things that seem like they cannot be done can be done and worth it at the end. Every hike I went on was more than worth it. It taught me to keep pushing, because getting out of your comfort zone will lead to growth and satisfaction at the end.

Yes, I learned a lot of history on this trip, but I cannot thank Professor Bailly enough for the major life lessons and perspectives he has taught me. He knows what he is doing and doing a stellar job at it, and I cannot thank him enough for this experience.


“The Alhambra (Alhambra Palace Spain).” Khan Academy, Khan Academy,,secured%20this%20region%20in%201237.

“Conversos and Moriscos: Tyranny of Food. 2016.” Spain Then and Now – Spain Then and Now. An Overview of the History, Literature, Architecture, Art and Culture of Spain.,

“Madrid.” Bailly Lectures, 12 June 2022,

“Modernisme.” Dosde,

“Reconquista.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

“Religions – Islam: Muslim Spain (711-1492).” BBC, BBC, 4 Sept. 2009,

“Toledo.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

Anusha Ghaffar: España as Text 2022

Photo by Safa Ghaya (CC by 4.0)

Anusha Ghaffar is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing her degree in Nutritional Sciences. She is a first generation student and her future goal is to be on Optometrist, and she will be attending Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry starting fall of 2022. Anusha is in the Honors College, participating in the Spain study abroad program, as she loves to travel and broaden her mindset about the world. She is excited about the various things she will learn in this course, especially about the culture and history in Spain and how they influence one another around the world. 

Madrid as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

“A Haggling Success Story.”

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU at Madrid on June 12th, 2022.

After the first two days of waking up with 3 hours of sleep, I was wondering why we had to meet at 9am to go to a flea market. We had the entire day to do so, so why couldn’t we just sleep in today? As me and my roommates charged down 4 flights, the extra flight of stairs due to there being a ground floor, we made it exactly on time without a second to spare for the second time this week.

The cool and dry air slapped our face as we barged out of the apartment complex, and everyone looked up with a wide gaze as the door hit the wall with a bang, snapping them awake. The 9:30am weather felt refreshing compared to feeling like getting baked in the 5pm convection oven, as it is evident the city captures all the heat throughout the day. El Rastro is a flee market held every Sunday at 9am with merchants selling their goods and collection. The vendors got more saturated as we walked closer to Calle De la Ribera de Curtidores, which is where the market is held.

After we broke up from the group, I wanted to try to bargain with my little Spanish skills. My first stop was a place selling shirts with silks from India, which was only 10 euros. Something like this would not be less than $20 each in America. I grabbed three shirts, and put on an act of trying to be a fluent Spanish speaker, but that evidently failed when I said“¿puedo tener venticinco?” not realizing how atrocious the grammar was. As soon as he said no, he explained in Spanish, andI stared at him blankly, processing what he is trying to say at a pace of a slug. I ended up giving him the full price, but this time built the courage up to try and have a conversation with him in Spanish. None of my Spanish speaking classmates were with me and could not hear, therefore there would be no embarrassment. I told him how I was getting this for my sister, and he was telling me how nice and good quality the material is. He then said I was “muy guapa” and I was confused since according to my Spanish 4 teacher, guapo meant handsome and I didn’t realize that there was a feminine term for it too. I told him the shirts were muy bonita, and left to satisfy my shopping cravings. Since most of the class speaks Spanish, This was my first experience without a Spanish speaker holding my hand while I try to interact with a seller. It was a genuinely ecstatic experience and left me wanting to do it more.

I shopped and bought a bunch of gifts for my family. through the vibrant pops of different colors, I noticed the vendors were really diverse, and selling different things from shirts and dresses, glass painted plates, cameras, fans, bracelets, cameras, to even random computer parts. My focus was on buying clothes and accessories for my friends and family. The very last vendor held my greatest bargaining success story, and I will be proud of it the rest of my life. The vendor was selling bracelets for €1, I grabbed a tube filled with 11 bracelets, and confidently said to a younger seller “once con diez euros” and he said okay! I just bargained my way out of paying an extra Euro. That was a euphoric experience, as I had just successfully bargained in a different language. I could not wait to tell everyone. 

The bracelets I bargained. Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

This was an amazing experience for me, as even in Pakistan my mom bargains for me, bargaining in America is not common. After spending about three hours there, we decided to head back around 12, and the market was packed. So many tourists and locals poured out of that street. Looking back, that early wake up was very worth it, as the weather was magnificent and the streets were not as packed. New real life experience and learning culture is what I came here to learn, and this class is satisfying that everyday.

Segovia as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

“Ironic Admiration.”

By Anusha Ghaffar from FIU at Segovia on June 13th, 2022

The arches of the structure mountained over the city, with restless ventejos flying over the rocky, yet smoothly defined surface. What was the structure that stood so proudly in front of me with its welcoming gesture? The closer it got, the more details were shown. This was the famous aqueduct of Segovia, looking over the beautiful city view in its path. It was known to be built by Romans, and this is one of the only grand structures built without cement. This aqueduct is stretched 14 kilometers wide and creates a sense of border for Segovia. It wasn’t just the aqueduct that left the eyes of a visitor in awe, it was the city view with the clear sky and the greenery that all complimented each other. A glance to the top has eyes circling the ventejo birds, family of sparrows, who never stop flying until they are ready to mate. This aqueduct system is still used until this day. 

The kid in me got brought to life when snow whites castle was mentioned. The Alcázar de Segovia was used as an inspiration for the castle of snow whites movies. This was mind blowing to me as Snow White was my favorite movie growing up and now I am in her house. What was even more moving was the mudejar designs inside where Queen Isabella lived. Mudejar is Islamic inspired art and architecture used in many popular architectures in Spain. Being Muslim hearing this makes me very proud that our culture and work has been appreciated throughout the centuries, although it may not be done ethically. There was a painting in a room where there was a depiction of a man killing a Muslim which was very ironic to me as the whole castle reflected the Muslim art beauty. 

One thing I will not be able to wrap my mind around is that how can one have so much appreciation for the work of another, but also violently push them out? Why did many churches and palaces have the desire to have the mudejar style when they could barely tolerate Muslims? This question is raised in every city, and it’s answered when I see the beautiful mudejar art. There is so much admiration to the point where fake Arabic is used in Christian burial site designs. 

The day ended with a hike overlooking the city. The feelings felt were indescribable and have never been felt before. It was as if I was a Disney Princess living in a fairytale walking through a meadow and picking flowers. The endorphins felt was a study abroad moment that I will remember that changed my life. At that moment all that I felt was bliss. Looking down at the city where Roman’s built an aqueduct fool proof of earthquakes, the grandeur of Catedral de Segovia, and the palace of Queen Isabella, I was in disbelief that I, Anusha Ghaffar, was experiencing this moment. And just like that this experience is packed up in a box called history, just like the rest of the city walls.

Cordoba as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

“Religious Shock.”

By Anusha Ghaffar from FIU at Cordoba on June 18, 2022.

Ecstatic to finally see a mosque in Spain, the class packed all their belongings and headed to the trains. After seeing many cathedrals, it was refreshing to see something new. After the tour of Cordoba city, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba lied calling the name of the class awaiting to astound us all with its beautiful architecture and the history the walls held. The grand finale was worth it.

Walking in, I saw everyone’s eyes widening and jaws dropping. I saw the longing of many’s desires to finally step into their first mosque ever. The beauty of this mosque cannot be put to words as it is so easy to get lost in the endless two arch, red striped design. It looked the same everywhere, yet the eyes could not draw away from it. The feeling was indescribable.

Although most historians disagree that the mosque was built first, there was “evidence” that the Basilica of Saint Vincent stood there before. The mosque was created in 785 CE by Abd Ar Rahman, who made the prayer direction, or Qiblah, to the South instead of South east. This is very interesting to me, I have never heard of a different qiblah other than the one to Mecca. After researching this, it had said it was due to the difference of interpretation of a Hadith, which are sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Mihrab, which indicates the direction of prayer, was decorated with magnificent Arabic calligraphy. That area was architectured a certain way so that the voice can echo in the large mosque, and prayers can be heard throughout.

Normal mosques do not have paintings of living things, but there were sculptures of people in here. The fact that there were sculptures and crosses throughout the mosque was really hard for me to get used to, but the cathedral portion really got me into a religious shock. The brightness illuminating the pure white walls, the very high ceilings compared to the mosque, and it being the middle of the building can be interpreted as an anecdote. The interpretation, as the tour guide mentioned, was that Christianity is above it all and in the light of the world versus how the mosque is dark, gloomy, and shorter. I was in shock to learn this, as I would not have thought of it like that.

Although it upsets me that the mosque was turned into a cathedral, I am also very thankful it was. I am glad they decided not to destroy the beautiful Islamic architecture, and left some moorish history for us all to devour the beauty of. I wish there were more mosques left to discover but we take what we can get.

Sevilla as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

“Coexisting Architecture.”

By Anusha Ghaffar from FIU at Sevilla on June 22, 2022.

Walking into the Cathedral of Sevilla, it was not of surprise that this used to be a mosque due to its teardrop shaped entrance and outside orange tree area. The orange tree garden is the area where Muslims wash themselves before entering a mosque and it is turned into a garden for the cathedral. I noticed most of the cathedrals that we have been to were also mosques beforehand. This cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. The intention for when it was built was to make it the grandest in the world. Least to say, the cathedral is enormous and beautiful with its moorish influence.

The Giralda minaret was a tower used by Muslims to call for prayer. This minaret was built with Roman blocks, used as a call for prayer for Muslims, then turned into a church bell for Christian’s. It is amazing how three civilizations can utilize the same architecture for their own purposes throughout the years.

La plaza de España was built in 1929 to help revive Sevilla’s greatness. This beautiful plaza has tile works for every region in Spain. I was there two hours before sunset and the sun was hitting the plaza just right. I was in awe of how beautiful the plaza looked and the greenery outside. Everything was perfect. The weather, the angle of the sun, to the sound of the flamenco music, to the swan sitting with ducklings surrounding it. I’ve never had a better stroll in my life.

Sitges as Text

“Identity in Art.”

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

By Anusha Ghaffar from FIU at Sitges on June 26, 2022.

The morning started with a clean breeze, and everyone rushing to grab breakfast. I knew this was a small, beach town but I was overtaken 30 minutes after being in the city to finally see the waters. I was in shock with how beautiful the glacier blue water dancing in the sunlight looked, and was taken a back to home- Miami? More like Deerfield Beach to me being from Broward. Sitges is where locals who live in Barcelona go for the beach. Witnessing the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea I could see why they would go here.

Before I felt the taste of home for the first time in three weeks, we had started the day with going to Cau Ferrat Museum, which was home to Santiago Rusiñol, evidently promoting Modernisme in Catalonia. Modernisme is a style of Catalonian art that defines a huge part of their identity with the style. It is mainly expressed in architecture around Barcelona, most evidently in decorative arts such as ceramics. This museum was a mark Rusiñol left for everyone as a part of himself, as this building still being shown today shows how he is still existing right now.

His art collection was mind blowing and overwhelming, as 6 paintings from Pablo Picasso were on the wall in front of me. El Greco’s work was also there. The fact that I was standing in front of something that Picasso and Greco touched and produced is still something I cannot wrap my mind around, although it was not even the first time I have experienced standing in front of their work.

Sitges is like a birthmark to Barcelona, as it contains Modernisme art and creates a part of self-identity to the Catalonians, who are a vital part of Barcelona’s history. Barcelona would not be Barcelona without it.

Barcelona as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

“Modernisme Scar.”

By Anusha Ghaffar from FIU at Barcelona on June 24, 2022.

Modernisme is like a scar to Barcelona. The term scar is a more accurate way to describe it as its definition is “a mark remaining after injured tissue as healed”. Barcelona is a part of Spain but will always be the capital of Catalonia. To this day Catalans still march and protest for their independence. Their language Catalan and Modernisme is a vital symbol for Catalan identity. The art started as a movement to add to Catalan culture, and it now simply became a part of Spain’s identity. That is why I see it as a scar, rather something Spain was born with and accepted, as it had to fight its way up to be acknowledged.

Gaudi’s work was prevalent in Modernisme. La Sagrada Familia had everyone in an awe with the mix of architecture in the Cathedral. It was so simple yet had a grandeur presence with its glass-stained work, which is prevalent in Modernisme. The two different sides of colors made it feel like I was lost in a forest. The yellow, green, and blue side showed the birth of Christ and light, while the yellow, orange and red showed water and light. The colors beautifully dance throughout the cathedral.

Park Guell was beyond amazing with its broken-up glass created to art. This is a beautiful example of one’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure, because the glass was literally trash turned into a beautiful architecture that now brings tourists from all over the world to see. Gaudi did an amazing job representing Catalan and keeping the artwork alive until this day to help never forget Catalonians.

Barcelona brings me back to finding my own self-identity. These Catalonians were living in Spain, but they figured out a way to make sure their mark was and is shown. This makes me wonder what my self identity in the melting pot of America is. What makes me unique? I do not fit in with born and raised Pakistani’s, yet I also do not fit in with traditional Americans. One thing this class has taught me is that you do not need to fit in, rather find something similar or relatable, even if it is miniscule, and to find a way to coexist and understand those around you. What separates you from another is no more than a mental barrier, as in the end of the day we are all human. Spain’s history with different religions have taught us this countlessly, and now Catalonians wanting independence has also shown this part of Spain. Being with this group with diverse people with different backgrounds has also first handedly taught me this.

As the trip ends with Barcelona, I find myself and my classmates enriched with knowledge from each other. A unique sense of perspective and understanding has been built from learning hard facts, seeing history unfold, having conversations about different perspectives, and sharing my own point of view is an experience of once in a lifetime. I will always remember the deep meaning of my study abroad’s experience and how much it has changed my perspective on life. No matter the different backgrounds, religion, race, and culture of my peers on this trip, all I know is that we are one big family.

Anusha Ghaffar: Miami as Text 2022

Photo By Aliza Ghaffar (CC by 4.0)

Anusha Ghaffar is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing her degree in Nutritional Sciences. She is a first generation student and her future goal is to be on Optometrist, and she will be attending Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry starting fall of 2022. Anusha is in the Honors College, participating in the Spain study abroad program, as she loves to travel and broaden her mindset about the world. She is excited about the various things she will learn in this course, especially about the culture and history in Spain and how they influence one another around the world. 

Deering Estate as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC BY 4.0)

A Walk-Through Miami’s History.”

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU at Deering Estate on January 28th, 2022.

The humidity filled the air as we circled around the entrance of the first walking classroom style lecture of the semester. The big gates masked what Deering Estate possibly looked like in my head. As we walked in, two unique houses were standing there, calling our names to learn about the origins of how they were built and by whom. As we kept walking, the symmetrical basin’s view took my breath away even on the gloomy, cloudy day. Calling myself “from Miami”, even though I live in a suburb 40 minutes away, I was excited to find out the origins of this beautiful city called Miami, and who lived here before “America” existed.

This beautiful estate, built by Charles Deering in 1920, went through many monumental time periods of history. One specific one that was talked about is the prohibition period. Deering tried to build a lighthouse near his basin but got denied. This did not stop him from getting his alcohol. He used lights on the entrance of his stone house as a marker for his boats, coming from Cuba with his fresh shipment, which was very clever of him. We also saw the secret wine cellar. The bottles from the time are still there, although empty. This was illegal during the time, and it shows how if there is a will, there is a way, which can be admired in history because it reminds me that humans will always be humans, and people always find ways to do what their heart desires with their own deceits.

Although Charles Deering built property here, the rest of land shows live evidence of habitants from up to 10,000 years ago. We walked by Tequesta burial ground mound, where it was about 24 feet high. The quietness that was there reflected the many that were buried under the mounds for years, overtaken by the old oak tree. We also touched the tools they used, left on the ground for us to discover. Touching it took me back in time thinking of the different ways they were used and for what. It was crazy holding something a Tequesta held 10,000 years ago.

Through the walk of history, more proof that everything is connected in history was shown. The houses were built by Afro-Bahamians, showing the Islamic tied influence on the architecture with the dome like design. The Bohemians also carved their own designs, such as a pelican looking bird and a pineapple design shown on the picture to the bottom left. It is amazing to me how decades later we were looking and touching something that used to be someone’s home and is now a work of art and history to us. Learning about Miami’s origin outside of a textbook was an exceptional experience, and Deering Estate was the perfect location in doing so.

Vizcaya as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC BY 4.0)

Vizcaya: Europe’s Melting Pot.

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU at Vizcaya on February 18th, 2022.

 The drive from a gentrified Miami Outskirt to Coral Gables to Vizcaya felt like I had traveled through different terrains in the span of 20 minutes. The greenery engulfed the entrance of Vizcaya hiding the hot sun as we drove inside, noticing the various Italian Baroque sculptures that seemed like they were being disclosed by the various trees. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens was built by James Deering and was finished with its construction in 1916. It was named after Vizcaino, who was a Spanish explorer who resided with Tequesta Indians. The first thing I noticed is that this once home to James Deering was like no other. It felt like we were in a different country as the diverse decoration and architecture fit in together like a puzzle piece to make this melting pot of an estate in Miami, Florida from Europe.

Before we walked inside, a statue of Ponce De Leon was looking over us, which signifies the start of exchange between Florida and Europe and foreshadows what will be seen inside. The first thing seen inside were two fountains. These were not ordinary fountains, rather linear, stair like waterfall fountains that were lined up symmetrically, pointing grandly to the main house. The water of the fountain reflected the sky and gave a serene vibe to it. The professor explained that this fountain was Islamic style, made for pondering.

Photo by Anusha Ghaffar (CC BY 4.0)

 As we entered from the back entrance, Dionysus was looking down at us with his pitcher of grapes. The Greek god of wine and ecstasy did not fail to personify the entire house of James Deering just by his statue presence.  Each room of the house with its different personality and pieces from different countries in Europe. From glass-stained windows with fake marble painted into the walls, to a music room with an untouched harp, to a room with imported ceilings, to a library with fake books and paintings of children that were not Deering’s, leading to a room with a painting of Virgin Mary sliced in half so it is easily imported and an Mudejar art carpet mimicking Islamic art. It was like walking through pieces of the house, and every room was distinct but somehow managed to fit in together to create a big picture. The main entrance of the estate blinded my eyes from the dancing reflections from the deep blue water hugging the outside of the estate. What a grand entrance, James Deering.

 The outside areas were also filled with various anecdotes. From the bush maze, to the lover’s bench, to the swan and man statue, each area of the garden was filled with the bushes whispering with the wind, eagerly waiting for its story to be heard. Although there were many fictional stories, the real dark truth was masked by the grandeur of the whole estate. Although seen as a piece of Europe, the bottom line is that it is in Miami, masking the Tequesta, Seminole, and Bahamian people that had resided there before they were forced to leave. At the time, racial segregation was prominent. The thick walls and beautiful garden of Vizcaya conceal the blood, sweat, and tears of black Bahamian under terrible working conditions and extremely low wages. The dark truth must also be looked at through what is shown outwardly as a glorified estate.

Downtown Miami as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC BY 4.0)

“Miami: A Full Circle.”

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU in Downtown Miami on March 11th, 2022.

As someone who lives 40 minutes away from Miami, this was my first-time stepping foot in downtown Miami for the purpose of exploring it, rather than cruising in my car getting glimpses of the skyscrapers. Being from Broward, I had not even thought about Miami’s history and was shocked that people in the county itself also had not learned about it.

The first stop was the government center, which was a bland long building in the middle of Miami, not matching the diverse vibe of the rest of downtown. The bursting oranges springing into every direction with a water fountain in the middle represents the uncontrollable continuous growth of Miami. I was shocked to learn that Miami out of many cities has one of the highest budgets for the arts, thinking it was only known for beaches and partying.

The next destination was Lummus park, which was the oldest park in Miami. Professor Bailley explained the story of Miami thanksgiving being held here. We proceeded to then touch Fort Dallas, trying to picture the slaves building this for their own slave quarters. Each brick put forth with hard work, and we have the privilege of touching this aspect of history.

The Henry Flagler monument was the next stop. It is ironic how he used black slaves to build the railroads and hotels, and those same railroads were used as divider to segregate the colors in “color town”, commencing the segregation in Miami. To tie the ironic history into a bow, Miami Dade was named after a commander who decided to explore new lands and was defeated by the Indians. This was all during the genocide of the indigenous people, and the Seminoles did not surrender and had won, but the battle was named after the defeated commander.

While walking by the Miami water and enjoying the crisp breeze next to the freshwater, we had encountered a mama and baby manatee. Seeing life in an urbanized area like this gave me hope that the ecosystem here is not fully degraded, and with carefulness, can be salvaged.

To end this walk, we had gone to the freedom tower, evidently portraying Spain architecture. It is a duplication of the Giralda Tower in Seville, which we may get to see very soon this summer. With a picture of the two architectures side by side to it, they are clearly replicas of each other. This is a very significant place for many in Miami as it served as a liberty sign for Cuban immigrants, and a vast majority of Miamians are Cuban. This building reminds me of the talks in class of how Cubans are really Spanish but are not actually claimed to be Spanish due to the diverting of the cultures. It is funny how their liberty tower is one that is exactly like a building in Spain. Full circle?

South Beach as Text

Photos by Anusha Ghaffar (CC BY 4.0)

“Vivacious South Beach.”

By Anusha Ghaffar of FIU in South Beach on April 1st, 2022

I arrived at South Beach an hour and a half after I had left my house, feeling like I had just arrived at my destination from a road trip. Moving from inside my car to witness the crisp, windy air slapping my face while the clear blue skies reflected on the beach water was very well worth the stopped traffic and crazy driving.

As we got to the pier, the water taunted me to jump in looking like I could drink it up like glacier freeze Gatorade. Apparently, the rite of passage to be a real Miamian is to jump off South Pointe Pier. As the lecture started, the same thing that was mentioned in the downtown lecture was said; after the railroad developed there was apparent segregation. To add to this, when Miami Beach was built, which I found out is all fake including the sand, African Americans, Afro-Bahamians, and Seminoles had no access to the beach. This is outrageous because they had been living there their entire lives, and there is no reminiscence of their existence. Although now Miami beach is all inclusive, this was not necessarily the case in all its history.

As we step out of the beach area, the different styles of architectures were observed. The professor explained Art Deco and Mediterranean revival. These were distinct and easy to spot as we went through South Beach. Art deco looked like industrial materials like a boat and have curved in buildings with eyebrows for balconies. Mediterranean revival style architecture was apparent, as we saw it in downtown Miami.

It’s interesting how the period in time influences architecture, as in the 1920s, the hype on the pyramids in Egypt was rising. The architecture had zygorettes on it and mimicked king Tut’s tomb with similar designs. The focus shifted from Europe to a country in Africa, which is a sudden and unusual change.

Strolling down a very popular tourist destination now without being blindsided to its past is bewildering. The history of what built up to Miami beach is bottled up with many facts that I have heard for the first time. From the struggle of the LGBTQ community, Gianni Versace’s home and assassination location, the Palace Drag club, which we saw a show from afar, a specific spot where the Jewish people were permitted to move in, all ties the bow of what is now a walkable city called South Beach. The beach, architecture, landmarks, and hardship is what makes this vivacious city today.

Anusha Ghaffar

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