Isabella Garcia : España as Text 2022

Photo taken by Victoria Garcia (CC by 4.0)

Isabella Garcia is a sophomore receiving a Bachelors of Science in Biology on a Pre-PA track at Florida International University. She has a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mainly for the ocean and is a Cuban-American.

Madrid as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0)

Palace Bought with Blood

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Madrid, España, 14 June 2022

One of the most impressive status symbol monuments of Madrid is the Palacio Real. Walking into this decadent castle feels surreal when surrounded by extravagant fourteen carat gold plated ceilings, carefully crafted marble floors, and grand dining room to welcome world leaders. The fact that this was once a family’s palace for them to live in puts great emphasis on their role in society and how they were truly above all.

For a palace like this, pictures do it no justice when it comes to details in the minor things to the point that it becomes profligacy. The amount of money spent on this palace really hit me when our tour guide explained how the weather affects the decorations in the entire palace. In Madrid, there are extremely hot, dry summers with cold, bitter winters. When it comes to the intense winters, the whole palace gets redecorated with tapestries to keep the palace warmer. Once the winter rolls out, the palace is redecorated once again, now changing the warm tapestries for paintings to keep the rooms cooler. 

The most mind blowing part of the palace for me wasn’t the actual building itself, but it was the effect of the Museum of the Americas when relating it to El Palacio Real. This insane amount of money was spilled into a building to solely show wealth and the origin of this all of it came from the abuse of the Americas. This museum encompassed how the Europeans viewed the natives of America as animalistic and inferior to them. 

Toledo as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia // CC 4.0

El Greco

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Toledo, España, 15 June 2022

Coming from a small Greek school in Kendall that wants to spread their culture, El Greco was a prideful piece of their history, and Toledo has El Greco everywhere. 

First, I’ve learned of the painting “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz” in the Iglesias de Santo Tomé throughout high school as being one of his most pristine paintings, and at the time, I didn’t see it. I thought it was overhyped and it looked like a painting that Velazquez or other prominent Spanish Renaissance painters could do, but in person, everything is so much grander. The detail from the feeling of the little boy looking at you to the reflection of St. Steven on the armor of the Count of Orgaz feels overwhelming in person in comparison to in a computer screen. 

The most meaningful connection was with his painting of “The View of Toledo.” In my Greek Language class in High School, El Greco was a hot topic. When researching for presentations, I fell in love with the painting. Even though the actual painting isn’t in Spain, Toledo was the topic of the painting. El Greco portrayed Toledo as a perfect balance of dramatic, yet soothing city, with the dark shadows but vibrantly green trees. One of the aspects of the painting that caught my attention a lot was the fact that the clouds show an obvious spot of light shining over Toledo amongst all of the other dark clouds. The most stunning part of it all was that we got to be exactly where El Greco painted this painting. If I would’ve told 16 year old me that I would be seeing that exact view with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. 

Sevilla as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia // CC 4.0

The Nature in Miami is Missing

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Sevilla, España, 22 June 2022

Sevilla is a breath of fresh air in a country that’s non-stop.
Automatically, the most impressive thing of Sevilla has to be the Alcazar de Sevilla. Each corner that’s taken is a whole different combination of architecture and art, leading to one massively impressive palace. Unlike many of the Cathedrals seen around Spain, this Alcazar is different in the sense that it follows Muslim architecture closely and truly feels out of this world. When walking out into the gardens, the size just continues to get grander. To put it into perspective, there is a whole labyrinth the size of a soccer field in the backyard because why not. The landscape is impeccably kept with the species and styles changing every turn you take.

The Gardens of Alcazar, being astonishing, doesn’t outweigh the awe of El Parque de Maria Luisa and Plaza de España. Walking into the park, I assumed that it would be very similar to El Retiro in Madrid, which is incredible as it is to Americans because of the lack of emphasis on parks and outdoors in general in the United States. I was so taken back by the fact that a smaller city like Sevilla could have something as decadent as El Alcazar yet have something so humbling like El Parque de Maria Luisa. Exploring the park on an off day, we first stumbled upon fountains with so much peace and wildlife, and having the view of the towers shows a balance of humanity and nature. The most stunning part of the Plaza de España was the Flamenco show that just happened to be going on as we were walking without intent. It sounds dramatic to say but the clashing of the dance shoes onto that wooden platform really seemed to travel through my body to the point of getting goosebumps.

Cordoba as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia // CC 4.0

Transformer Cathedral

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Cordoba, España, 18 June 2022

Cordoba took me completely by surprise. It looked surprisingly Muslim yet Greek at the same time. The architecture and use of tiles shows the Islamic influence which is an absolute major role in the history of Cordoba.

An incredibly unique feature that this city has is the vast Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. As it’s seen as one of their highlights of the city and a main attraction, it didn’t sit well with me. I appreciate the architecture and acknowledge the fact that the history goes so far back and it’s a true representation of how its cities and rulers used to work, but it’s disrespectful in nature. This Mosque is absolutely massive standing about the size of 4 full soccer fields and was turned into a Cathedral in 1236 when Cordoba was overruled. Unlike many other scenarios in European history, the Mosque wasn’t torn down or built over but it was “refurbished and transformed.”

In the Mosque-Cathedral, one of the most strange rules that had me thinking was the fact that no one was allowed to even get close to the floor in order to take a picture in front of the Muslim alter. At first, this may not seem like a big deal at all and could be seen as a way to keep the traffic moving and keep anyone from getting harmed, but it means a lot more to the Muslims. To pray, they kneel down, and the fact that it’s that prohibited in the building seems like a slap in the face to the religion while they’re taking advantage of their architecture and art.

Barcelona as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia // CC 4.0

Night of Fire

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Barcelona, España, 23 June 2022

The first night in Barcelona, we were welcomed in typical Barcelona manner. Being the most vibrant and alive city that we visited together, the Festival of Sant Joan was a great introduction. This night is one of the major party nights in Barcelona which is a public holiday on the summer solstice. Researching this holiday before the night began was extremely interesting and rewarding when actually seeing it take place. The idea behind this old tradition is that they celebrate on the longest day of the year in order to honor the sun which is a symbol of wealth and strength. A major role of this holiday is also the fire, which symbolizes purity, which is also the reason that fires and torches are lit throughout the city. Known as the Night of Fire, the Spanish go all out for their celebration. 

Sitting on the boardwalk watching the night light up with fireworks alongside classmates seemed really similar to the American traditions of lighting up thousands of fireworks for July 4th. It was amazing to me how the United States has their own tradition of the Fourth of July, that’s a huge deal, and no other country recognizes it, and it’s the same case in Barcelona with this night. This celebration is not recognized anywhere else in the world. Another thing that hit me while watching the fireworks is just how old these celebrations are. In comparison to the European countries, the United States is so young and the ideologies behind these celebrations date back to mythological eras. 

Sitges as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia // CC 4.0

Wealth to and from

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at Sitges, España, 26 June 2022

This day trip had to be, by far, the most mind blowing when it comes to the whole foundation of this course: Ida y Vuelta. Throughout the course, in Europe and in the little classroom in GC, the influence of Spain on the Americas and vice versa. Learning about the Deering brothers and their wealth on paper is immensely different than going in person. When visiting the Deering Estate and Vizcaya in Miami during the Spring semester, their wealth is extremely prominent with the attention to detail in everything from the architecture, to the gardens, and even the dredged out canal. The most amazing part of this is that not only did Charles Deering create a sweet escape in Miami, but he refurbished an absolute gem in Sitges, Spain that blew the Deering Estate out of the water. 

This white, mediterranean dream was finished around the early 1900s, a little over a decade after the Deering estate. He transformed a hospital and a private residence into a home that is now known and preserved as El Museus de Sitges. The wild part of this museum is that you should be expected to be surprised with each different room. Passing through the “house,” each room is decorated completely differently with new paints and artworks in each of them. 

The wealth in artwork alone portrayed in this Sitges mansion and the Cap Ferrat museum told you everything you needed to know about this family, having five picassos all displayed right next to each other in a small, quaint room. Seeing how the wealth translates from one continent all the way to the other is astonishing being that it was the early 1900s and travel wasn’t as easy and prominent as it is these days. 

Isabella Garcia : Ida España 2022

Isabella Garcia is a sophomore receiving a Bachelors of Science in Biology on a Pre-PA track at Florida International University. She has a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mainly for the ocean and is a Cuban-American.

Spanish influence on Caribbean and Floridian food 

The Power of Gluttony

by Isabella Garcia of FIU

When thinking about food, right off of the bat, the first idea is that it is something necessary to live, like water. Over the years, as cultures have developed, food has a much greater meaning now than it did for nomads thousands of years ago. Now, it is very common to sit down at a meal for special occasions, such as big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. When sitting down for a meal, this is when most social interactions occur. There is time to have meaningful conversations and create a deeper connection with the people that you’re with. In today’s culture, food has become the root of social interactions. 

Pork in the New World 

When looking at the influence that Spain had on the food in the New World, Cuba is one of the greatest components because of these two countries’ historical ties. As soon as Spain colonized Cuba, the culinary traditions followed with it (Rodriguez, 3). One of the most surprising elements of Cuban food that is from Spain is actually pork. 

The Spaniards plan to have an abundant source of food not only worked, but it ended up being the main source of protein for the small island. Iberian pigs were first introduced to the New World by Spanish explorers when colonizing (Boyd, 5). They relied on pigs because of the fact that pigs are able to be self sustainable and took little to no work to maintain them. They also reproduce extremely fast and are able to be cured with salt in order to preserve the meat for months on end for the colonizers (Vann, 2). Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage, brought 8 pigs with him so that they could reproduce and they could have a steady source of food for the voyagers (Boyd, 6).  

For Cubans, pork is a staple, as seen in dishes such as Cuban Sandwiches, Ropa Vieja, and even ham croquetas with a side of rice and beans. Another extremely important Cuban tradition is called La Caja China, which is when a whole pork is placed to cook in a wooden box on special occasions, mostly Christmas Eve. Pork is one of those proteins that’s seen as almost the identity of Cuba because of how well rooted it is in so many dishes, varying from a breakfast meat to lunch and dinner as well.  

Coconuts in the New World

Sharing common ingredients and techniques in their food is Jamaica, which Spain had a great influence on as well. Their cuisine is known to be full of spices and natural island vibes, which many actually come from Spain (Stewart, 3). When thinking of Jamaica, I automatically think of tropical coconuts, which they find a way to amazingly incorporate into every meal, whether it be a savory rice, a tangy cocktail, or a sweet dessert. Surprisingly enough with how tropical and Caribbean a coconut may seem, the Spaniards actually brought them to the New World when colonizing, so they are not native at all. 

In the late 1800s, a Spanish ship called Providencia was on its way from Cuba to Spain, but had malfunctions and ended up crashing off of the shore of Florida. This ship had 20,000 coconuts that ended up being scattered all over Florida and drifting across into all the Caribbean islands, and with the fact that they aren’t native, they spread like wildfire without any natural predators (Brouwers, 1). These coconuts were reproduced so quickly and matched the environment so well that they became the face of the tropical vibe and lifestyle. This one food surprised me the most because of how full of coconut trees the Caribbean and Florida are. Miami Beach is known for its nightlife and its coconut palms on the beach, but they aren’t native to this continent at all. 

Coconuts, unlike many other crops, actually have many different uses, making them an extremely diverse crop and tree. With many main uses for coconuts, their top use has to be their fresh water and coconut meat. Being lined along salt water beaches, the fresh water of the coconuts comes in handy, especially when taking environmental factors of the 1800s into consideration. Along with the advantages of the fruit, the actual tree has many benefits as well. The author Lucas Brouwers of the article Coconuts: not indigenous, but quite at home nevertheless for Scientific American explained that “Alcohol and sugar can be extracted from its sap, and cocos oil from the nut itself…” making it a tree that has multiple uses for its bark (Brouwers, 4). Another use that ultimately changed architecture and societies was Tiki Huts. This one crop that was accidentally brought to the New World ended up providing palm fronds that would be used for shade and shelter, which is a major advantage in a sunny area such as the Caribbean islands. 

Sugar Cane in the New World

Another staple that Spain is responsible for bringing to the Americans is sugar, and this drastically changed caribbean foods and surprisingly enough, the society as well. Sugar cane, being a valued crop and having a complex history, came from Spain to completely change the Americas. Even though at first thought it may not seem like it, the rush for growing sugar cane led to a trickling effect of slave demand and disease spread. Even though Brazil was the capital for sugar cane plantations led by Portugal in the New World, Spain didn’t fall behind, with many of their plantations ending up in Cuba (Hancock, 11). The profit that sending sugarcane back to Europe made them was too hard to resist, so insane amounts of slaves were sent to Cuba from Africa for the Spanish to profit off of. The demand led to the island’s population growing from about 150,000 people to 1,300,000 people between the years of 1763-1860 (Britannica, 2). In regards to today’s society, this may not seem like much of a spike, but being that it was in the 18th and 19th century and the spike was predominantly from the sugar cane industry, this statistic itself puts into perspective how much effect something as simple as a crop can have on a civilization. 

Sugar cane was an extremely booming industry because of how much Europeans loved it, and Cuba had the perfect climate for growing the crop that there was no stopping Spain from profiting off of the New World. Sugar was a new, extremely high calorie food that was used in things from drinks like tea and coffee to foods like bread and fruits (Nunn, Qian, Sugar Cane 2). There was enough sugar cane produced that even the commoners would add sugar to everything. 

Towards the middle of the 19th century, the author of Sugarcane and the growth of slavery explains that “…the sugar industry accounted for four-fifths of all exports and in 1860 Cuba produced nearly one-third of the worlds sugar.” This author puts into perspective just how massive this industry turned out to be and the intensive contribution that Cuba had to it. Along with the slave and disease effects came the industrial advancement. Spain’s desire for higher production rates led to steam powered mills and railroads being utilized (Britannica, 3). This completely transformed the terrain of Cuba by knocking down most of its hardwood forests and creating large railroads running all throughout the island to move the crops, workers, and tools. This particular crop shows us that food has more of an effect than just eating to survive, but there are domino effects that stem from a crop and the history is much more complex than initially thought. 

Plantains in the New World

Cuba is known for the fact that they take full advantage of the cheap food they have and find many ways to make dishes. One of the other crops that they’ve learned to switch up and make variations of is the plantain, and not surprisingly, but surprisingly at the same time, Spain introduced this crop to the new world. This crop was as surprising as the pork to me because plantains are integrated in every single meal, whether it be tostones, maduros, plantain chips, or fufu de platano, they’re everywhere in this small Caribbean island. They not only created so many recipes using this one crop because of how delicious and easy they are to make, but the main factor was the economical side of things. Plantains are cheap and filling, making them easy for a small island to prosper out of (Ramirez, 7). 

This crop was actually brought to Cuba in order to feed the slaves, and like sugarcane, this industry ended up being heavy on slaves and once again, transforming Cuba because of it’s ideal growing conditions (Ramirez, 8). The rush to produce this crop for its monetary profits in the early 1800s brought in a wave of demand for slaves and even though slavery was later abolished in Cuba in 1886, this doesnt mean that slavery actually ended. The demand for plantains is still intense because of its versatility and the fact that they are cheap and filling, leading to modern day slavery being in full effect in those plantations. Even though it’s better than slavery before, modern day slavery in Cuba accounts for the workers that are extremely underpaid, on punishment, and even unpaid, having both adults and children working on the plantains. 

Spices in the New World

As I go further into research for this paper, I realize just how powerful the vice of gluttony is. With food comes the desire to enhance it to make it as delicious as possible, which is exactly what spices did, and this too was another trickling effect throughout the competitive European countries. When it came to Spain, their neighboring country of Portugal always had the upper hand in the spice trade. Portugal was the first country to make it to India and they began the spice trade and the newly found obsession (Silk Road Spice Merchant, 7). Because of Christopher Columbus’ failure to bring back black pepper from the America’s but actually showing up with chile peppers in hand, Spain was eager to grow in the spice trade. 

With Cuba being one of their great colonies, spices ended up making their way back to the small island to influence their cuisine incredibly. Not only did the Spanish bring along their spices from their travels but the slaves did as well (AmingoFoods, 4-5). Africans are known for having extravagant spices and herbs, and with the demand for slaves in the plantations, their traditions influences Cuban cuisine as well. 

This particular subsection of food shows just how much power culinary has over people. There were dozens of trips funded by the country’s governments for the spice trade in order to travel the world for new spices (Silk Road Spice Merchant, 7). Spices were seen as a status symbol and gave a country power, which is mind blowing considering that it’s a plant used to add flavor to food. Without even knowing it, the Spaniards were spreading spices making cultures more diverse and personal, along with spreading nutritional powerhouse which transformed the medical industry for countless countries. 


In summation, Spain had an incredible contribution to Caribbean food. Even though it all came naturally without any premeditation, the Caribbean countries would not be what they are today without European influence. Spain brought pork, sugar cane, coconuts, plantains, and spices to the New World. Caribbean countries are known for their tropical coconuts and plantains and the islands thrive off of pork dishes, which are actually not native at all. Sugar cane is one of the world’s most desired crops which lead to a massive increase in plantations and slaves. Going into depth with the research for this paper, it opened my eyes to how much powerhouse countries from the other side of the world can influence small Caribbean islands. Cuba’s whole identity is actually rooted in the Spanish colonization, from the language to the rituals to the food.

Work Cited

Amigofoods, and AmigofoodsOur blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods &    drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a . “Cuban Food – What Is It, Its History & 6 Traditional Dishes .” Amigofoods, 13 Nov. 2021, 

Boyd, Hines. “Brief History of the Iberian Pig and Its Reintroduction into the U.S.” Glendower Farms,,first%20litters%20in%20February%202015. 

Brouwers, Lucas. “Coconuts: Not Indigenous, but Quite at Home Nevertheless.” Scientific American Blog Network, Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2011, 

Hancock, James. “Sugar & the Rise of the Plantation System.” World History Encyclopedia, World History Encyclopedia, 19 Apr. 2022,–the-rise-of-the-plantation-system/#:~:text=From%20a%20humble%20beginning%20as,fostered%20brutal%20revolutions%20and%20wars. 

Mick Vann, Fri. “A History of Pigs in America.” Food – The Austin Chronicle, 

Ramirez, Cybele. “How Plantains Shaped the Caribbean.” Loisa, Loisa, 21 July 2021,,the%20Caribbean%20on%20slave%20ships. 

Rodriguez, Hector. “History and Staples of Cuban Cuisine.” The Spruce Eats, The Spruce Eats, 24 Nov. 2020, 

“Sugarcane and the Growth of Slavery.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

Stewart, Kesha “An Ode to Spain – Spanish Influence on Jamaica’s Cuisine.” My, 

The Silk Road Spice Merchant. “History of the Spice Trade.” The Silk Road Spice Merchant, 


Isabella Garcia : Vuelta España 2022

Photo Taken by Victoria Garcia (CC by 4.0)

Isabella Garcia is a sophomore receiving a Bachelors of Science in Biology on a Pre-PA track at Florida International University. She has a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mainly for the ocean and is a Cuban-American.

Vuelta España

Trading Cultures

by Isabella Garcia of FIU at España, June 2022

Exploring Lavapies during the day versus the night felt like two completely different cities, which was actually the best part. During the day, it actually seemed like a run down Wynwood: full of graffiti and street art but lots of locals just hanging out in parks and drinking. At first, wandering into a run down local park amongst the towering buildings, we didn’t expect much, but it turned out to be one of our absolute favorite memories of the whole trip. One of my group members, Gabriel Marrero, and I being absolutely in love with anything sports related, we quite literally seized our opportunity. We heard basketballs bouncing in the south end of the park and that’s exactly what we were automatically drawn to. There, we found about 20 local neighborhood kids, some casually playing soccer on a small, concrete pitch and others playing basketball on small sided basketball courts that didn’t even have nets or a square painted on the back board. The kids saw us and swarmed us asking us if we could play with them and of course, we took the opportunity and played both sports for a couple of hours. They were so excited to see new faces and to be able to show us their skills.  

The part that really shocked me the most was that this was exactly how I had grown up: outside playing sports and not afraid of scraping my knees. In the United States, I feel like this culture has completely been demolished with the obsession of electronics. Driving around Miami, you absolutely rarely find kids without their noses stuffed into their electronics, and much less kids in playgrounds or parks interacting with others and getting dirty. The culture shock of how the Europeans enjoy the outdoors way more than the Americans was even more intensified when every city that we visited had one or two major parks with smaller ones hidden in the towering buildings.  In Madrid, it was El Parque de El Retiro, Sevilla has el Parque de Maria Luisa with the lively Plaza de España, and Barcelona had the world renowned Parc Güell. 

The real anticipation for Lavapies lied in the night life that had been raged about. What we expected was an absolute party scene but there was so much more meaning to our night than just that. In true Spanish fashion, we had to go to an insanely rated tapas restaurant that, walking in, looked like a small living room in an uncle’s house, and it felt just as comforting and inviting. Here, the atmosphere was so nonchalant unlike many Miami restaurants. The waiters were messing around and cursing at each other and kept bringing us more and more rounds of shots. It felt so similar to the Hispanic Culture that we feel at family parties where everyone talks to one another, there are smiles all around the room, and the food is warm and comforting. When going into American restaurants, especially outside of Miami where Hispanics absolutely dominate the population, the vibes are so different. People are dry, restaurants aren’t so laid back with their decorations or music, and the overall ambiance in all of the Spanish restaurants feel exactly like Hispanic culture. 

When first looking through the neighborhoods, it was so strange that it was named “Lavapies,” which directly translates to “wash your feet.” Looking into the history, it seems rockier and more of a word-of-mouth kind of history. The first story, that seems to circle around the most, says that it’s called such because of the hills in the neighborhood that lead down to the Manzanares River. Even though this story goes around the most, my favorite is the one that says that there was a fountain in the middle of their main plaza in the 1800s that would create streams running down the streets that locals would wash their feet in (Zaino, 1). This story seems to European in the way that there’s a fountain, which seems to be conveniently in every corner except when you’re dying of thirst. The second story also gives a sense of community which plays a huge role in Europeans everyday lives because of the fact that they all live in such close quarters and walk to the majority of their destinations. 

Going to Barcelona with the agenda to explore El raval, this name was strange and caught our attention. When researching the neighborhood, we dug into the history of the name as well because it didn’t seem like spanish. Here, we found out that El raval was named after the Arabic word of “rabad,” which means the outskirts. Even though this may not make sense with how Barcelona is built now, this neighborhood used to be on the outside of the first Roman walls (Wikipedia, 3). One of the most eye-catching components of this neighborhood had to be El Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, also called La Boqueria, and the history is even more elaborate. Knowing how far back these European countries go, it shouldn’t be surprising that these little marketplaces are just as old, but it always takes me by surprise. The first mention of their neighborhood market goes back to the early 1200s. In the earlier years of the millenium, this marketplace was used to sell meat for centuries. Towards the end of the 1700s, it was then transformed into a marketplace that would sell straw, and then turned into a fish market towards the end of the millennium. Throughout most of the marketplaces life, there was no enclosure or concrete walls to the market, but rather it was just casual stands of civilians selling different kinds of foods. When visited now, you find all kinds of Spanish delights throughout the massive market that’s enclosed by gates and covered with a metal roof. Here, you can find things from native, fresh fruits to famous Turrons to fresh chorizos. To think that in that very spot, where me and my classmates bought the most massive turron to share later that night in our apartments, there had been people just like us over 800 years ago buying goods is insane. They stepped on those same rocks, they did even exchanges, and were so similar yet they spoke a completely different language and lived an immensely different lifestyle than we do. (

Wandering these streets, my group mates and I stumbled upon the impressive Museu Marítim de Barcelona. Being a massive city on the ocean, much like Miami and the lifestyle that we’re used to, this maritime history was bound to be grand. Starting at the actual building of the museum, it was originally known as the Barcelona Shipyard. This shipyard was built in the early 1200s and almost 800 years later, the building is still intact and being put to use. In the inside of the museum, the most grand display is the replica of the 60 meter long gally from the 1500s. To think that this boat is older than the United States and it is still grand and breathtaking is impressive. To put it into perspective, the boat used a total of 240 people to row the 59 oars. 

Besides the emphasis on the evolution of boats and their improvement on engineering, this museum had a whole section dedicated to trade routes and what they traded. When introducing the concept of trading with the Americas, the museum explains how trading out of Sevilla with the Americas was first picking up pace in the 1500s. Out of this came the Royal Barcelona Trading Company, which was a massive step in the right direction when it came to trading with the Americas (Wikipedia, 2). Because of this trading company, Catalonians were not able to trade with the Americas because of the Cadiz Monopoly.

Works Cited 

“Barcelona Trading Company.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 July 2022,

Blystone, Dan. “El Raval Neighborhood Guide.” Barcelona Navigator, 20 Aug. 2021,

“La Boqueria.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 June 2022,

Zaino, Lori. “Welcome to Lavapiés: Madrid’s Cool Anti-Glamour Neighborhood.” Culture Trip

The Culture Trip, 27 Feb. 2017, 

Isabella Garcia : Miami as Text 2022

Photo taken by Victoria Garcia (CC by 4.0)

Isabella Garcia is a sophomore receiving a Bachelors of Science in Biology on a Pre-PA track at Florida International University. She has a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mainly for the ocean and is a Cuban-American.

Deering Estate as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Cutler Creek Bridge.

Refreshing Old Miami

By Isabella Garcia of FIU at Deering Estate, 28 January 2022.

The Deering Estate is a glimpse of what Miami looked like before the population surge and tourism blew up. Located in Palmetto Bay in South Miami, this vast land encompasses the original ecosystems of Miami, Florida. Charles Deering bought the estate early in the 1900s and renovated the Richmond Cottage, which was initially an inn for people traveling up and down to the keys. Then, a couple years later, the three story Stone House was built, with his massive art collection and the basement having a hidden wine cellar. The building of this estate have several European aesthetic touches. He had a great love for European culture, but because of WW1, he was unable to travel as much as he wanted to, so he brought European architecture and alcohol to Florida.

An incredibly unique part of this estate is that it contains 8 different native ecosystems consisting of mangroves, sea grass beds, salt marsh, remnant slough, pine rock land, flow way, beach dune in chicken key, and tropical hardwood hammock. The important part of these ecosystems is that they aren’t seen around Miami very often. Thinking of Miami, when it comes to landscape, the initial thought is the stereotypical coconut palms, but these actually aren’t native at all. The most amazing thing to think about was how only half a century ago, a whole Tequesta tribe lived right on that land and left their mark. They left massive burial mounds, tools made from shells and rocks, and hundreds of perfectly buried bodies all close together.

The racial history of the Deering Estate was shocking to me, considering that it’s in Miami, FL. In regards to racism, Miami now has people from all over the world that are being treated equally and aren’t given weird faces for speaking a completely different language. Here, there are restaurants from all 7 continents and Miami takes pride in being so racially diverse, but the Deering Estate shows us that it wasn’t always like that. Building the estate were many Bahamians and Blacks. They were treated like absolute garbage and were put to build large buildings and roads and were put to build the People’s dock. Doing this work, there were incidents of people dying and getting seriously injured while also being treated poorly.

Vizcaya as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Ponce De Leon statue.

Gilded Age Estate

By Isabella Garcia at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 18 February 2022.

To walk into a hidden, tranquil beauty that’s in a city that doesn’t seem to take a break is the most refreshing part of this estate. Finished in 1916 by James Deering, this villa was a modern day tropical castle. Being brothers with Charles Deering, who built the Deering estate, Vizcaya took a step forward towards wealth and luxury. After going through tight roads with towering trees, a mansion is revealed through a canopy of large oak trees lined with fountains. At the beginning of that canopy, there are two statues, one being Ponce De Leon (pictured above). At his feet is a globe that conveniently has Florida facing right towards the sun which shows the incredible attention to detail. As you walk through the glimpse of the impressive gardens, you enter the house through the back doors, as the front doors and main entrance are actually facing the ocean. Along the outer rim of the house is a moat which was used to keep any unwanted guests away which was something that I had never seen. Upon walking into the house, you are greeted by a Dionysus statue, which is the God of wine and ecstasy to elude to partying and letting loose in Miami.

After passing the Dionysus statue and entering the courtyard, you’re stepping into this incredibly welcoming house. All of the colors, plants, and floor plans make it so that you feel welcomed and relaxed. The floor’s marble is laid out in a way that is inviting by having rays moving into the house almost assisting you as you walk in. When walking through the rooms, I loved the flowy feeling that the connected rooms give off instead of each of them having their own doors. Even though each room is physically connected, the art influence in each room couldn’t be more different. Each room impressively had artwork from all over the world with different wallpapers, chandeliers, and furniture to make you feel as if each room were a different country at a different time period. A statue that gave me a mini culture shock was that of the Boy with Thorn. This Greco-Roman sculpture made me think of the societal advancements that we have gone through and how long ago this time period really was. It’s also crazy to think how this one statue has so many different stories surrounding it and how it’s been changed and sculpted again in different cities throughout the years. Some aspects of this house that were certainly ahead of their time were the vacuum cleaner, the food elevator, and the bell system. Being an area of the house that was mainly only seen by workers, the kitchen had many cool little gadgets. The vacuum was on the floor coming out of the wall to be able to sweep any dirt into it and leave the floor clean. The food elevator was from the first floor to the second and functioned to get the food and drinks to the guests or owners as fast as possible. The bell system was even more impressive than those two. With the ability to trace the room the bell came from, this was a great showcase of wealth and comfort.

Moving outside, the beauty and elegance got even more impressive. With a direct outlet to the Atlantic ocean, this was an amazing location for any boats to go to and from Europe. Greeting any boats at the entrance of the house are a collection of statues in the water, one being the topless mermaid statue. This statue was initially made with extremely large breasts and a sculptor was re-hired to reduce her breast size. An interesting fact that I learned was that men and women weren’t allowed to be seen alone anywhere except for in gardens, so James Deering took that to another level. He made a “secret garden” with walls surrounding it with one main bench with a carving of Venus and sea shells. As you walk through these gardens, there are so many diverse plants, architecture, and sculptures that it makes you wonder how long this must’ve taken to plan out. Along the back of the property was another large bench with a statue of a woman and a swan. At first glance, it’s a statue that no one would think twice about, but with the attention to detail that James Deering put into every aspect of the house, there’s a story behind that statue too. The woman in the statue is Leda, which was extremely sought out by Zeus. She denied him so he decided to turn into a swan to win her over and the statue portrays them kissing intensely. Another funny aspect of this property is the maze made out of shrubs. Talking to my classmates about what must have gone through their heads while making this is how they probably acted while being drunk and trying to find a way out of it.

Miami as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Miami Circle

In the 305

By Isabella Garcia at Downtown Miami, 11 March 2022.

Being a native in Miami, it was incredible how much I didn’t know about my own city. From the corruption of the memorials outside of the Miami-Dade county courthouse to the cultural significance of the Miami Circle, this city’s government can go either way. The one thing that did tie together throughout each destination was how diverse Miami really is. Slave quarters, courthouses, kilometer 0, Miami river, Roman Catholic church, Freedom tower, everything. 

What is viewed by many as a tranquil ocean front dog park to unwind from reality is actually an incredible Miami historical location. As pictured above, the Miami Circle was preserved because of the Tequesta findings on this land. In the late 1990s, archeologists found significant holes and basins that were remains of the wooden poles for tiki huts, buried animals, and human remains. Along with those, artifacts such as tools and ceramics add to the knowledge of Tequesta being a primary village with knowledge of great architecture and use of the rugged Miami land. One of the most interesting facts that Professor Bailly mentioned was that since the location of this village was at the mouth of the Miami River, the Tequesta’s would use the tides to travel up and down the river to the Everglades swampy water and back to the ocean front. This exhibits knowledge of the land and their sharp witted ways. Once the remains were discovered, the National Park Service took over the land and made sure to preserve this section of Miami history. 

Another incredibly unique section of Miami was the Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels artwork. Being one of the first things seen during our walking lecture, this artwork made perfect sense. With the chaotic explosion of oranges, this embodies Miami in the way that oranges are the state’s fruit and the chaos shows the growth of Miami. The broken bowl is used to express the fast expansion of Miami, as it is a fast growing city and one of the most culturally diverse ones. It was interesting that whenever there was a grand, new building being constructed, 1.5% of the cost had to be put towards the commission or purchase of artworks, which was exactly how this artwork got commissioned.

SoBe as Text

Photo taken by Isabella Garcia (CC by 4.0), Ocean Drive

Neon Lights

By Isabella Garcia at South Beach, 1 April 2022.

Standing on the pier looking North wasn’t a new view for me, but exploring an area of Miami is always so different with Professor than it is with a group of friends. When thinking of Miami, the initial thought is always the beach and the liveliness of Ocean drive, but it’s fake. The sand isn’t even from here. Knowing about the everglades and the massive mangrove forests that rule Southern Florida, it shouldn’t be such a surprise that the beach initially has the same terrain, but it was bizarre to think about. Miami’s beach was once lined with towering mangroves that acted as barriers and maintained the shape of the coastal shores. These forests didn’t provide any entertainment so they were ripped out and replaced with sand from the Bahamas. The mere fact that the county has to import sand yearly to restock the shores goes to show how the tailored beaches aren’t native at all. Once things started getting a little more popular in this area is when the restaurants and hotels that lined it started to boom.

Like I said before, Bailly always brings out the most of an experience. Walking the same Ocean drive walk as always, but this time with a little spice: history. There’s meaning behind every little balcony or edge in the architecture which emphasizes how much time and thought was put into every building on this street. The Art Deco designs influenced by the desire for space travel and futuristic designs is what rules these buildings. The neon colors that light up at night, the eyebrows that are a subtle yet popular add-on seen in all the art deco themed buildings, and the circular windows to represent that of boats.

It was shocking to think about this grand Art Deco art collection that is in our backyard that is often overlooked. This is Miami’s identity and such a great factor in making this city unique.

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