Destiny Perez: Vuelta España 2022

Photographed in the Ricardo M. Silva Stadium by Hilary Melbourne/CC by 4.0.

Destiny Perez is a sophomore at Florida International University studying International Business to receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Her passions are dancing and singing. When she’s not in practice or studying, you can find her spending time with her family or somewhere near the ocean.

“I Am Not Spanish”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU on July 17,2022.

Photograph taken by Lauren Velasquez. Edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.


The culture, customs, and lifestyle are extremely different in Europe in comparison to the Americas. Before my trip I was expecting to find myself in a new world, one that was completely foreign and would make me feel out of place. In physically travelling to the country, I found the exact opposite of my expectations. I found myself connecting every little thing to home. Making connections between their culture and mine, their cities and mine, their structures and mine. And at the end of it all, I came to one conclusion. Humans are much more similar than we are different.

Photograph taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

Cultural Connection

In the year 1492, Christopher Columbus got his voyage to the West Indies approved by Queen Isabella in the Real Alcazar de Segovia. In trying to find the West Indies, I would say he failed. However, he managed to have great success. He found what would be known as the New World, and 6-centuries later as my home. When he returned to Spain, Columbus presented his findings of the new land and the people who inhabited it in Barcelona. The more in depth the class got with the history and culture of Spain, the more I realized how much influence they had on Miami and its people. Later, in 1566, Miami would be claimed for Spain by an explorer named Pedro Menendez de Aviles. From then forward, Miami will never cease to have Spanish influence.

Miami’s population is 70% latino. Of that large percentage, most of them are Cuban. Spain conquered Cuba as their territory and had power there for nearly 400 years. Many of the customs and foods seen in the Cuban culture were directly derived from the Spanish. Of course, the most obvious is the language. Events in history would have thousands of Cubans end up in Miami in the mid 20th century, bringing their customs and cuisine with them. While in Spain, I found myself very familiarized with items I read on a menu. They were called words I had never seen before, but the ingredients always gave away their similarities. So, I would order whatever I thought sounded best, and every time the result would humor me. It was always something that at home I eat very often, and it just had a different name. There were plenty of recipes that had one or two differences from the way my grandma would make them at home. There were so many moments at restaurants where I realized how much my life has been influenced by the Spanish. Take something as simple as the pan con tomate for example. In my family, we grew up on pan con tomate as a snack throughout the day, and I always wondered “What made my grandma know think that bread and tomato would be a good combination?” but never would I have thought that it is a dish from Spain that has been carried through generations. Then there comes a moment where I am sitting in Spain and suddenly there is bread and tomato on the table, and it is referred to as a “tapa.” Those moments made it seem as if I never left the 4 walls of my house.

Photograph taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.


Never would I have thought that my biggest take away from a country that I dreamed of visiting would be religion. Being a Cuban American from Miami, one thing I can say differs in the culture, is that most of us are not as connected to our religion as they are in Spain. We might identify with a religion and claim to be it, but our practices are not strong. Not only do we not have a strong foundation of our own religions, but we definitely are also not told much about other ones. During this trip my views on many religions, including my own, were altered. Spain is very heavily influenced by religion. For centuries the most practiced religion has been Catholicism, and it is very rare to see any others within the borders. This was not always the case though. The history of Spain, although one of much discovery and exploration, was not one of tolerance or open-mindedness. During the same time of the new conquests, the Catholic monarchs (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand), focused exclusively on removing any other religions from the country. There was a lot of controversy between different regions of Spain as some of them were ran by sultans and inhabited by many Muslims and Jews. Granada was one of the cities that had strong Islamic foundation. The people fought for months to keep their land from being taken over by the Christians. King Boabdil surrendered Granada to the Spanish crown in 1492, his emotions ran high as he knew what would come next. His mother said to him “You cry like a woman for what you did not defend as a man.” The beauty of his religion within this region would be destroyed. In this city is where the great structure of The Alhambra sits. Till this day it is one of the best-preserved palaces of Islam. The further in to the La Alhambra you get, the more examples of incredible work you will find. There are beautiful sights of stonework, scriptures, beautiful ceilings, and many ties to the Islam religion. Once the monarchs had control of such a monumental city, it was only a matter of time before the crown ordered all Muslims and Jews converted to Christianity or flee the country. Not only did they succeed, but they proceeded to find ways to put Christianity above the other religions.

Present day Spain is full of beautiful cathedrals that had a lot of time and money invested into them. There was a time when any new cathedral being built was meant to be grander than the last to get closer and closer to God and show Him his importance. This devotion to a higher being is something that could have been so admirable and respected, however in my opinion it was poorly executed. To show God how much they loved and appreciated him they chose to change, remove, or kill other humans. Others of his followers, his creations. Which led many non-Catholic Spaniards to Cuba. Many of the citizens expelled from Spain or running from the fate of the Inquisition went on to settle in Cuba, but most of them would keep their religion a secret for generations to come. It was hard to digest what Christianity did to believers of other religions. The hardest part was to understand how most of the killings of the Spanish Inquisition were not even officially documented. In Sevilla, there were 4,000 Jews executed in the Jewish quarter, all of which were unofficial deaths that do not get counted toward the number of murders committed during the Inquisition.

Different cities in Spain brought me closer to or farther from my religious beliefs. There were structures like La Sagrada Familia, Santa Maria de Montserrat, and La Catedral de Segovia, that felt like beautiful and pure examples of Christianity. Contrary to those, there was also the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and La Alhambra that were both conquered around the same time. Instead of being destroyed to build something purely Catholic on the same grounds, the religion decided to keep the Islamic structures preserved because they knew how beautiful and rare, they were. Instead of having respect and putting those sites to rest, they built over it and added Christianity everywhere. They put a crucifixion and countless monuments of Virgin Mary in the very center of one of the greatest mosques in the world. In some ways, I am grateful the work was preserved and now hundreds of years later, I could go there and see it. However, morally it just felt wrong. I could not stop myself from feeling greatly uncomfortable. It would be great to say that after a trip to Spain, I felt so much closer to Catholicism, but it would be dishonest.

Photograph taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.


Learning about the development of cities in Spain made me realize how Miami has a similar background. Madrid is a young city in comparison to the rest of Spain. It was only made the capital because King Phillip II moved the court to the city. A whole generation later, it would be named the capital of the country. Madrid was very underdeveloped until King Carlos III introduced streetlights and a sewage system. Now, it is home to one of the most important sites in all of Spain, the Palacio Real. This is the palace in which royal families lived for many generations. The palace is in a neighborhood called Austrias within the city of Madrid. These parts of town are almost identical to Vizcaya in Miami, owned by James Deering. King Felipe had the palace built to be the most luxurious palace in all of Europe, in a city with no strong history to contribute to the country. James Deering did something similar in Miami. He had Vizcaya built to be a luxurious place in a city that did not mean much to the United States. In El Born, you come across this beautiful garden. The Sabatini Gardens were opened to the public by King Juan Carlos I in the year 1978. These gardens are full of historical figures and amazing views. There are monuments of many of Spain’s kings and queens. This is something I think Miami lacks. As a Miamian, I was not taught anything about my city’s past while in school. I found myself very uninformed of my geographic history just until this year. Which is why, in a country as historically important as Spain, I appreciate how much energy is put toward preserving their history and believe that Miami could execute similar efforts to inform us more of ours.

It’s silly to say but what inspired my desire to visit Barcelona was the movie “The Cheetah Girls.” I dreamt of living a similar reality to them, and minus the performing, I really got to do it. One of the most famous scenes of the movie was shot in the Park Güell, one of the many places in Barcelona I got to see. As a child, watching that movie made me think Barcelona was special because of the views, the mountains and beaches, the beautiful houses, but witnessing the city with my own eyes changed that perspective completely. Barcelona is a very powerful city. One whose people don’t even identify with the nation they live in. If you ask someone from Barcelona if they are Spanish, they would not only be insulted but they would respond that they are not. The people of Barcelona consider themselves Catalan, as the city is the capital of Catalonia. What makes this city special is not its views or anything superficial about it, but instead the undying desire of wanting to be known as something more than just “a city in Spain.” In Barcelona is where the creation of “modernism” took place. A few architects put together what would become the city’s staple. Modernisme is a style of architecture that connects nature motifs with industrial materials. The style began only in the early 1900s when architects decided that modernisme was going to be the Catalonian trademark. The purpose of creating this style was to give Barcelona a regional identity, something that made it different from the rest of Spain. Not only did they succeed in the creation, but it was also a global hit. People from all over the world travel to Barcelona to see for themselves the modernisme architectural style throughout the city. In El Raval, a neighborhood in Barcelona, there is a wonderful example of this style. El Palau de Musica is a concert venue that was built only in 1908. There are stainless steel glass windows that represent the sun, roses made of ceramics, a grand organ, and many more details that make up the interior of this building. When in Barcelona, it is a must to visit this structure as well as the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.

Photographs taken and edited by Diana Cortada/CC by 4.0.

So, Am I Spanish?

Every place in the world has something that makes it special and different. What I had not considered was how those specialties would be reflected in their people. As much as people are similar in the sense of wanting somewhere to belong, needing social interactions, and craving love and acceptance, where we are raised contributes a big part to our characters. On this trip I realized how much being from Miami, has shaped a big part of me and helped me become the woman I am today. I also have realized how much Miami was shaped by Spain. Our environments and surroundings cater to the way we perceive the world. Spain has heavily contributed to not just the Miami culture, but also the Cuban culture as well, making a very big part of me Spanish. But I am not Spanish, I am a Cuban American that was born and raised in Miami.


Admin. “Carlos III: A Revolutionary King.” The Making of Madrid, 15 Sept. 2021, Editors. “Alhambra.”, A&E Television Networks, 12 Mar. 2018, 

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Destiny Perez: Ida España 2022

Photographed in the Ricardo M. Silva Stadium by Hilary Melbourne/CC by 4.0.

Destiny Perez is a sophomore at Florida International University studying International Business to receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Her passions are dancing and singing. When she’s not in practice or studying, you can find her spending time with her family or somewhere near the ocean.

IDA: Spanish Influence on American Law

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU on April 24, 2022


“The Spanish Armada: History, Causes and Timeline.” The Spanish Armada: History, Causes and Timeline | Royal Museums Greenwich,

Every country has their own systematic way of being run. Some do it more efficiently, while others are a bit more extreme and unreasonable. No matter what form of government a country has, there are and will always be laws. Laws play a huge role in keeping a country running in an orderly fashion. Organized legal codes date all the way back to 1771 BCE, when the king of the Babylonian Empire created the first legal precedent for his people. Since then, laws have been a huge part of all civilizations.

Spain has seen a large amount of change in its government system and laws over the last few centuries. Their strong Catholic beliefs led them to make decisions that really harmed the progress of the country and set them back several times. Amongst many others, two of the actions that made Spain fall behind in comparison to other countries were their defeat in the Spanish Armada against England, and the several times they tried to have people of other religions convert to Catholicism or leave the country. Over the centuries, every change they had in the country led to new laws and precedents.


De Azcona, Tarsicio. “Ferdinand II.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Mar. 2022,
  • The Fuero Juzgo was framed in the mid 7th century by the Visigoths and translated in the 13th century to Spanish. It abolished the dualistic approach to lawmaking, granted legal incorporation, and confirmed local customs or privileges. These laws allowed settlers to choose their own judges and govern themselves while setting the rights and obligations they would have to follow. After revising the Fuero Viejo in 1254, Alfonso X wrote Las Siete Partidas in 1265. This document was not confirmed until eighty-three years later in the year 1348. Alfonso’s work combined all of Spain’s previous law with elements of Canon and Roman Law. One of the main things taken from Roman law was the separation of branches of law. The three branches included civil law, the law of peoples, and natural law. When Ferdinand and Isabella came to power, they promulgated codes in 1490 and 1502. These codes attempted to bring order and decrees to declare priorities in case of conflicts. In other words, set precedents. However, their codes were not effective. Later, the Spanish and Portuguese tried issuing recompilations of Alfonso’s Las Siete Partidas which set the foundation for what Spanish law is presently.
  • The Laws of the Indies were then passed in 1542. After Christopher Columbus found the New World, there needed to be order set for the land to function properly and add to Spain’s value. This set of laws freed the Native Americans from enslavement to the Spanish crown once their owners passed away. After they were freed, the Indians would owe the crown tribute in goods instead of in labor. The Nueva Recopilacion of 1567 remained basic Spanish codification for two hundred years and the later Recopilacion de las leyes de las Indias of 1680 were an attempt to have the laws and administrative regulations pertaining to the Spanish holding in the New World all in one document. Explorers had many rules to follow, and the whole purpose of almost the entire code is to honor Spain by continuing to expand it and take over as much land as possible for the country.
  • The Novisima Recopilacion of 1805, was yet another step in the wrong direction for Spain. It was an arrangement of Castilian and other Spanish legislation that mixed medieval and modern law. What became the Spanish national law was basically a different version of Castilian law and expanded under the absolute monarchies. During this time, there was a new genre of law also being passed more quietly, that was non-Castilian law. Today, ten of Spain’s fifty provinces still retain these local laws. Even currently, there is quite a division between the people. Most Spanish citizens consider themselves from Spain while others identify themselves as from Catalonia.
  • The Constitution of Cadiz of 1812 was the start of a very complex electoral system. The unification of the Spanish Kingdom would take a lot of compromise over many things, most importantly over pre-existing laws in the different regions. These laws of this Constitution allowed Spaniards in the Americas and the Philippines to have government representation. It established a short-lived democracy and called for the codification of all the branches of Spanish law. King Ferdinand overthrew the Constitution of Cadiz only a year after it was put in place, but it came back a few years later during a liberal revolution.
  • In 1889 the Spanish Civil Code was enacted. It was a piece of legislation that was derived from several sources. It came about after the Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil (civil procedure code of 1881), and Ley Organica del Poder Judicial (a government to the judiciary) were used as  two instruments in which civil procedure in Spain is codified. Some of the influences on the Spanish Civil Code were Castilian law, Canon law, Customary law, and Code Napoleon. This code set regulation for Spanish civil law.
  • The Ordinances of Bilbao of 1737 were the first codification of commercial law but were not completely revised and repromulgated until 1885. In this code, there is great influence of 19th century German legal scholarship. The format was more of a broader European work than a civil code. Over the years they have been amended, but the three 19th century codifications of civil, commercial, and procedural law remain in Spain today.
  • The creation of the Spanish Constitution came after General Franco’s dictatorship because Spain was able to rapidly change. When King Juan Carlos took over, he quickly started to transition Spain to a democratic monarchy. In the post-Franco era, the changes seen in the country allowed public law to become liberalized. After Spain entered the European Union in 1986, they had to completely remodel their company and corporate laws, legislation affecting financial institutions, and the sales and issuance of securities.


“Native Americans.” Who Are the Native Americans? the People Who Had Lived in the Americas before the Arrival of Europeans., Curriculum Visions,

The first time Spanish Law directly affected the United States was fifty years after the discovery of Las Americas. When the Laws of the Indies were passed. This set of laws needed to be passed due to the way the Spaniards handled their entry to the new land. The United States, or the New World as the Spanish called it, already had people in its lands when the “Spaniards discovered it.” The Native people already had their own societies and systems of law built to their liking before the Europeans arrived. Many Native American tribes were very affected by the conquest of the Europeans. Once the Spaniards would find land that they wanted, it became a never-ending fight (whether physical or diplomatic) until the land was theirs. Harmony between the Europeans and the Native tribes could have been achieved had the Spaniards recognized that the tribes already had their beliefs, legal systems, and ways of life. Since they chose to overlook all of it and either make the Native Americans more like them or get them out of their way, what came next throughout the years was ugly.

         The Native people had organized their government by leaders instead of rulers. Decisions for the people were made through consensus instead of decree. The people of the tribes were directed more by a sense of community and unity rather than individualism and greed. When the Spaniards wanted more land, there were attempts at diplomacy, but they usually resulted in European benefit. Several times the Native Americans fought back, which caused several of the wars between the conquistadores and the Native people seen throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Before being almost completely conquered by the Europeans, the Native Indians had to submit to a lot of laws the Spaniards passed throughout all that time. The Recopilacion de las leyes de las Indias of 1680 were nine books written by Antonio de Leon Pinelo, among other writers, that set laws for all different aspects of life. The laws were made for both the Spanish settlers to follow, as well as the Indians. Some of the topics discussed in the books were: the military, local government and services, the native population and its treatment, taxes and their collection, related staff having to do with the enforcement of justice, and the oversight of trade to and from the Indies. Eventually, the Native people could not control the spread of European power and by the 1750s they had minimal land and were stuck between the settlements of multiple European powers.


Randall, Willard Sterne. “5 Founding Fathers Whose Finances Shaped the American Revolution.”, A&E Television Networks, 14 Mar. 2022,

After the American Revolution ended in 1783, it was time for the founding fathers to put together what would be the legal precedents for the newborn country. Luckily for us, we had the failures of so many government systems before us to be the blueprint of exactly what not to do. Spain was one of the countries that the United States could use as an example to create a new system that was not susceptible to the same pitfalls as them, and that they did.

Many legal ideas that were put in the Constitution of the United States have direct correlation from Spanish law. Spanish law was largely influenced by the legal system the Romans had in place centuries ago. The first legal document of Spain, the Fuero Juzgo, had large Roman influence which we can now see translated in American law. Two of the subjects in this document were the allowing of local customs or privileges within Spain, and the ability for a people to govern themselves. The United States promulgated the idea of local customs through allowing different states within the country to have different laws. Every state has a different legislature and team of leaders. This allows for each of the fifty states to have their own bills passed if they fall within the frames of the United States Constitution. The ability of people to govern themselves is one of the things the United States does best. The country is a representative democracy, which allows their citizens to choose their government leaders and have a say in law passings. Continuing in that same direction, the United States was also influenced by the Constitution of Cadiz. Being passed in 1812, this Constitution was the first to recognize sovereignty as coming from the people instead of the king. The United States considers itself a sovereign nation because they are independent and governed by their own people. This comes from the ideas seen in the 1812 document.


Chelangat, Salome. “American Flag: The Flag of the United States of America.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 7 May 2018,

The United States is a special country that in its short living has become the strongest power in the world. The legal system a country has in place directly affects every single citizen of the nation. The laws set in place in this great nation are not necessarily perfect, they do have their flaws. However, every citizen has equal representation, freedom, and opportunity to succeed, which is more than what can be said for our ancestors.

Many of our ancestors, no matter what part of the world they are from, ended up in the United States to find those three things. The Spanish were a great influence on this nation because they did not succeed with every attempt they had to put a new legal order in place. In fact, they failed more times than they succeeded. They also tried with all their might to keep our lands under their rule. They did not believe that we could be prosperous on our own. Being that our nation was discovered by explorers that were funded by the Spanish, we should be filled with pride at how much our country learned from their mistakes as well as their successes. The framers of our great nation did everything in their power to create a country that would be far different than the lands they came from. Here we are, 241 years later, living in the country that every other nation of the world looks up to in every aspect.

With that said, nothing is perfect. No system in the world is perfect (especially a legal system), but we are blessed to have the one we do.


“American Indians – Part 2: Before European Contact | NCpedia.” NCPedia, Accessed 25 Apr. 2022.

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Destiny Perez: España as Text 2022

Photographed in the Ricardo M. Silva Stadium by Hilary Melbourne/CC by 4.0.

Destiny Perez is a sophomore at Florida International University studying International Business to receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Her passions are dancing and singing. When she’s not in practice or studying, you can find her spending time with her family or somewhere near the ocean.

Madrid as Text

“Looking at Life Through a New Lens”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Madrid on June 2022.

Photographs taken by Destiny Perez and Lauren Velasquez. Edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.
Photograph from Wikipedia. Art work found in Museo de Prado.

Madrid has been an experience that feels unreal. During my time here so far, I have seen and experienced things that I never thought I would. I have been to sites that I dreamt up visiting for years. Not only have so many of my dreams come true here but I also have gotten to experience connections to many of the places and art works.

One thing I have learned about Spain during my time here is how much they care about preserving their history. All of their main landmarks and touristic sites are a huge part of their history and what has made the country what it is today. By visiting one of their sites, I learned about a huge part of history that I had never even heard of before. Shortly after the 9/11 attack on the United States of America, when the U.S. government decided to invade Iraq, Spain helped during the invasion. Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on the United States but somehow the response they had after the terrorist attack was to go after Alqueda in Afghanistan and then go after Iraq. In response to the invasion, Iraqis decided to strike an attack against Spain. They formulated an attack on the trains in the country which resulted in 191 deaths and then the death of a police officer. The way Spain chose to honor their people was by creating the first site I visited. They created a memorial in the Atocha train station with all the victims’ names. It is a large empty room with just a dome at the top that has words about the victims of the tragedy. Although this was a beautiful sight to see and you can feel the emotions just by walking past it, my favorite part of the memorial is actually not in the room at all. It is a small hill of 192 trees in El Parque de Retiro that was planted in memory of all the victims. Trees are a special sign of life. They are eternal unless cut by outside forces or not getting the necessary resources for them to live. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted. Therefore, when a person passes away their energy still lives on but it must be transferred. I think it was beautiful of the people to decide to create this garden like structure for their fallen citizens, as they and their memory will live on with the city forever.

Besides the beautiful landmarks, the other thing Spain is rich in is the art history of the country. One of our lectures was in the Museo de Prado where we were able to look at historical paintings that changed the world in one way or another. In the year 1515, Jheronimus Bosch (known as El Bosco), released “El Jardin de Las Delicias.” This painting is extremely meaningful and has an interesting way of portraying the world. The left side of the piece is how simple life could be, it is peaceful and shows harmony between people and animals. The people depicted seem to be Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In the center, the society is shown as chaos. The people are indulging in activity that in the Catholic religion are not seen as okay. On the right, we see the result of what happens when you conduct yourself against the ways of Catholic beliefs. It resembles hell. The colors are dark, the characters shown are scary and abnormal, and you can see fire and smoke all around. What I loved most about this painting was that it was a Surrealist piece but the style of Surrealism was not a thing until 1920. El Bosco was extremely ahead of his time and his way of portraying religion in the 1500s was extremely uncommon at the time.

Segovia as Text

“Standing in the Presence of History”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Segovia on June 13, 2022.

Photographs taken by Destiny Perez and Lauren Velasquez. Edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

If you are given the background information of most of the tourist sites in Spain, almost all of them will send a rush of goosebumps through your body. In Segovia, their main attraction is one of the best preserved aqueducts (built by Romans over 2,000 years ago) still standing in the world. The aqueduct was built to be a channel of water helping the fresh water from the mountain travel more efficiently through the walls of the city. The Romans were extremely ahead of their time when they built this structure. It is so impactful to stand in its presence as it has withstood so many natural events, man made events, and especially time. This is the oldest man made structure I have ever had the chance to see in person. Picturing how the Romans worked together to mount every single one of those granite blocks to create 165 perfectly aligned arches is incredible, more so since it was estimated to be built in the year 50 BC. 

What is most impressive of Segovia, is the aqueduct is not their only long standing piece of history. The Alcazar is just as impactful as it was where Queen Isabella reigned after she took the throne preceding the death of her brother, King Henry IV. Queen Isabella created a lot of history for Spain, both good and bad. She felt it was her divine purpose to bestow Christianity all across the country. Some of her accomplishments as queen were the funding of Christopher Columbus’ expedition and bringing Spain together through her marriage to King Ferdinand. However, she is known more infamously for empowering the Spanish Inquisition which resulted in the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from the great country. Standing in the Alcazar was an indescribable feeling. In the throne room, where guests were received, is the exact room in which Columbus announced to the queen his discovery of the lands in which I was born and raised. History was made in this castle. Events that took place here directly affect me and the course of history as a whole.

Cordoba as Text

“The Everlasting Narrative”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Cordoba on June 18, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

“What is the one thing we learn about history? Nothing, that is why it repeats itself.”

My dad told this “joke” a few months ago, but I did not fully wrap my head around it until my visit to the cathedral in Cordoba. 

The great MOSQUE of Cordoba sent chills through my body from the moment we walked in. The structure is so simple from the outside yet so intricate and grand on the inside. There is Islamic influence everywhere. Not only do I see it, but I could feel it too; even if I am not associated with the religion. There are beautiful red and white arches, built from different stone materials like limestone and brick. They are structured much like an aqueduct all throughout the inside of the building. There are many walls with Arabic writing, what my classmates explained to me are scriptures from the Quran. There are symmetrical patterns, colors, and beautiful art work on almost every wall. There are all these incredible things, but I could not help but notice how they are dark. It seems dull in this section of the building. It almost feels like the work was meant to be hidden. Even though I was told the history of the building before I walked in, I could not comprehend the magnitude of the story until I reached the middle of the building. 

After seeing all the Islamic presence throughout the building, we reach the middle. We reach the exact place where Christianity made a mockery of not just the beautiful mosque, but also the whole religion. In 1236, King Ferdinand seized the mosque and turned it into a cathedral. However, the prayer niche was left facing toward Mecca. The Islamic work was preserved beautifully inside. The parts of the building that represented Islam were left standing. All these things started to weigh on me until the moment I get to the middle of the “cathedral.” There is so much light. There is a spectacular altar. You can see a crucifixion on the wall, a beautiful organ pipe, Virgin Mary depicted on many walls and paintings. In a normal circumstance it would send a rush of beautiful emotions and pride, but instead it brought me a great deal of guilt and sadness. The place that Muslims had worked so hard to build and spent years worshipping in, was stripped from them by another group of believers in God. The only minor difference between them was their choice religion. 

My visit to this building created one question. All for what? All to say that one religion is better than the other, even though they both believe in the same God? All to make Christians feel superior to Muslims? All to show how “admirable” Christians were for taking the great building from other believers of God and attempting to recreate its purpose for their own benefit? None of it worked. None of it is admirable. Instead, it brings shame. It is shameful that under one “God” these people found it acceptable to strip others of their worshipping grounds, work, culture, and pride. All this just to put their stories, traditions, and different beliefs right next to some of the greatest Islamic work on the planet. There was not even the decency to destroy the mosque and build a cathedral on top of just the land. Instead, they knew how incredible the work around them was, so they kept it.

So now I ask myself, “What is the one thing we learn about history?” And I understand why the answer is “Nothing, that is why it repeats itself.”

This same series of events is seen time and time again throughout history. Instead of growing mutual respect, what grows is hatred and ignorance. It is stories like the one of this building that later result in war, death, and the destruction of peace. This is a prime example of what creating division amongst people can do. The narrative still has not changed. People who live peacefully are divided by fanatics and someone unworthy gets the opportunity to take over because the people seek guidance and leadership. It is a vicious cycle. 

We must learn that no matter what deity, God, saints, or prophets we choose to believe in we are all HUMAN BEINGS who search for the same things. Respect is all that is necessary for people of different color, culture, or religion to live harmoniously. We are easier to conquer when we are divided because we are stronger when we stand together. 

Sevilla as Text


by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Sevilla on June 22, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

Learning about the history of Sevilla brought me a mix of emotions about the city. It was one of the most divisive cities in Spain’s history due to its devout loyalty for the king. When you ask Spaniards about the Inquisition, they will tell you that “not too many people died.” If you look up the official numbers of the Spanish Inquisition, you might find that they are correct. However, there were many unofficial executions that are not often talked about. Sevilla is one of the best examples of that as in this city there were 4,000 Jews executed in their quarter. There was a synagogue in the middle of the quarter that was (as per usual) torn down and created into a Catholic Church. Later when Napoleon took over, he had the church torn down and created a memorial for all the Jews who lost their lives in this quarter. When we made our way to the memorial, we came across a Jewish man singing to the centerpiece. It was very impactful to see him paying tribute to those that died over their shared faith before him. 

No city is perfect. Sometimes the stories are beautiful and sometimes they are gruesome, but there is always something special about it. Sevilla’s symbol is the word “NO8DO” with a knot in between. The significance of this is something quite special. Seville was loyal to King Alfonso during the war his son started against him. The word is believed to mean “no-madeja-do” which translates to “it has not left me.” Sevilla is a special city to the crown as it has maintained its loyalty. The concept of loyalty is extremely important to me as I have stood by people in moments where things did not seem they would go in a great direction. What pushes people through difficult times is the support system they have behind them. I absolutely love that the city of Sevilla played this role for King Alfonso (whether or not his reign was an ideal one). 

Sitges as Text

”Uno en un Million

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Sitges on June 26, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

Every city has its special touches that are what makes it unique and different from others. One thing I found fascinating about Sitges was that I was able to see what was the inspiration for one of the landmarks of my own city. In the city of Sitges is where Charles Deering’s original house is, which is what he used as inspiration for the stone house in the Deering Estate. The house was built between 1910 and 1918, after he bought all the land he needed to commence his construction. Previously, the buildings were a hospital and a residency. His home in Sitges throughout the years became a personal museum of all the art works he had collected. After constructing the stone house in Miami, he transferred many of his paintings. When I went to the Deering Estate in January, I did not appreciate the art as much as I should have. The things I have learned and seen during my time in this course made me understand that art is history and it being preserved is extremely important. Now that I have an understanding of such things, it was baffling to be in one room with 5 original works done by Picasso, and even some by El Greco. 

What impressed me the most about Sitges was how much they represent Catalonia. Everywhere I looked in the city I found flags, symbols, quotes, and so many examples of them demonstrating love for their “beloved country.” It is absolutely fascinating how Sitges is one of the popular tourist sites of “Spain” and yet it is not Spanish at all. The people of Catalonia are very admirable, as they have been wanting independence from Spain for hundreds of years, and even though there has been no result, they still have kept their culture strong. 

Barcelona as Text

“Home Away From Home”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Barcelona on June 28, 2022.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0.

Barcelona is one of the most unique cities I have ever visited. Since it is the capital of the Catalonia region, this city has a lot of qualities that make it different from everywhere else in Spain. One of the most distinct things in Barcelona is the Catalan Modernism, which was begun in the late 19th century as a cultural movement. Modernism is very much influenced by nature, and for that reason it called my attention so much. In modernist architecture you can find beautiful structures made of non-expensive materials, stained glass windows, and a lot of color. The most famous example of a modernist structure is the Sagrada Familia cathedral. The church was created by Antoni Gaudi, and has been under construction for over 100 years. Most cathedrals are very detailed in the exterior stonework and of course very beautiful, but this one is special. You could study it for hours and still find new detail with every glance. Some of the things depicted in the front of the building are the storyline of Christ and many elements of nature. However, the most impressive part of the cathedral is the inside. When you look around it almost feels as if you are in a garden. So many elements inside this cathedral are different of those of the “traditional” style and it is absolutely incredible. Adding on to the beauty of modernist architecture, there is also El Palau de la Musica in Barcelona. This building is an absolute dream. It is another example of how inexpensive materials can be used to create luxurious looking results. The stained glass roof was designed to embody the sun and surrounding the glass a “garden of roses” covers the rest of the ceiling with over 2,000 roses. These buildings have a way of transforming the environment and transporting anyone who steps inside to a new world. 

Barcelona is very special to me because it reminds me of my home. The two cities are alike for many reasons: the beaches, the energy of the people, the variety in cultures. However, seeing how Modernism has had such an effect on their city and their culture, it made me wish that Miami had something similar. As special as Miami is, there isn’t much to show for it and that is because the cultural development has not been paid attention to. It is such a melting pot city, with more people from all over the world every day, that we have not stopped to consider what unifies us. I believe Miami can have a similar progress to that of Barcelona once we give our city an element that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Destiny Perez: Miami as Text 2022

Photographed in the Ricardo M. Silva Stadium by Hilary Melbourne/CC by 4.0.

Destiny Perez is a sophomore at Florida International University studying International Business to receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Her passions are dancing and singing. When she’s not in practice or studying, you can find her spending time with her family or somewhere near the ocean.

Deering as Text

“The Unknown Beginning”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Deering Estate on February 6, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

The older I get, the more I realize that being born and raised in Miami does not mean that you know or understand more than anyone else the history of it. Miami is a melting pot city. There are families of all backgrounds and people with all different stories to tell. Had you asked me the history of my city before I visited the Deering Estate, I would have said the Spanish were the first here and that almost all the evolution since then has been Hispanic, and after the 1960s predominantly Cuban. I learned the real beginning of this beautiful city on our excursion to the estate and was fascinated by how much I don’t know about my geological ancestors.

The only knowledge I had of Native Americans prior to the Deering Estate was what I had seen in movies and learned from American history textbooks, which is not much. During our walk through the estate, I became fascinated by the collection of Tequesta belongings that are scattered throughout the land. Seeing carving and hunting tools made from natural resources was so impactful because I had never pictured my “ancestors” as a people so different from me. As strong of a mark as the Spanish have on our city and culture, a lot more recognition should be given to the tribes that were here before they ever were. Many people, including myself, are so unaware of the direct correlation that Native Americans have on our city’s history and evolution.

Vizcaya as Text

“Setting the Tone”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Vizacaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

Since I was a young girl, I have always been quite curious about everything in the world around me. Who chose the meaning that words would have? How did lands get a reputation and who chose them? I had no idea that going to Vizcaya would teach me so much about my city and answer some of those questions.

James Deering was a mastermind in the creation of this house. He included elements of so many cultures and even did things that were seen as very unconventional at the time. One of my favorite things Deering did was set the tone for what kind of city Miami would become. In many Hispanic households, parents set up pictures of their kids, religious crosses, and paintings. These articles will give any visitor the feel of the house they are entering. James Deering did exactly that for the Vizcaya mansion, both obviously and elusively.

Throughout the property you can find many innuendos that point to it being a home for partying and no real responsibility. At the front of the house, there is a quote in Latin that translates to “Accept the gifts of pleasure when it is given. Put serious things aside.” This shows very clearly what type of vibe he wanted to give his visitors from the moment they came sailing in. The workers who would come in and out of the back of the house also received a hint of what the mood inside the house was. Deering had a huge sculpture of Dyonisus holding a jug full of grapes in one hand and a long stick in the other. These objects represented wine and cigarettes, as Dyonisus was the God of Ecstasy.

James Deering did an absolutely amazing job at not just setting the tone for his house but also unknowingly setting the tone for what the entire city would become, the home of partying.

Miami as Text

“History Meets”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

The education system is something very controversial, especially when it comes to history. Although it does teach children much of what they need to know about the world around them and how it came to be, it does not make it a point to teach geological history. Geological history is what should be most important to an individual as it can have a lot to do with many events, people, or structures that can have everything to do with you. I experienced this on our walk around Downtown Miami. A textbook has never in my life brought me closer to understanding myself, my family, culture, city, or anything in between. However, being taught the history of structures all around the city taught me something about every single one of those things.

During our walk, we came across a building that is known as “the Freedom Tower.” This structure received its name in 1980 when it was a holding center for Cuban immigrants after many of them took a leap of faith and came to the United States. All of this connects to me directly. Mercedes Alba, Tomas Alba, and Alicia Acosta are three names of family members of mine that were processed in this building. Before that time, the building was a newspaper facility for Miami’s greatest newspaper. Little did anyone know that it would become the home to a new beginning for every immigrant that stepped foot in it. If you walk through the first floor of the Freedom Tower now, you can come across endless posters of information and photos about operation Pedro Pan, the Mariel boat lift, and the Cuban Revolution. My family was part of all three of these events. My family endured countless obstacles to make it to freedom, and this building is what the start of their dream consisted of.

The feeling I got while being inside is something I will never forget. I have never felt more in tune with my reality. Cubans have an authentic story of a fight that only we know about. It isn’t talked about in textbooks, not even to students specifically in Miami. And still we rise, and still we find ways to escape the communism on the island, and still we fight for freedom. With that said, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you are going. My family stood up for freedom, and they let nothing prompt their fall. I know the strength in my ancestors, my culture, and my city, and that drive will take me exactly where I want to go in life.

SoBe as Text

“Unknown Never Ends”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at South Beach on April 1, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

Every time I see a new part of Miami during Bailly’s lectures, it makes me feel as if I wasn’t born in the city at all. How could there be so much history about my city that I have no idea about? It was enriching finding out so much history on South Beach, when before I just thought it was a tourist sight with lots of pretty structures. 

The most interesting part about South Beach is how intricate each building is. There are three styles of buildings seen on the strip: Mediterranean, Art Deco, and Mimo. Buildings from each style have a lot of thought put into them and every design has different traits. My favorite style of the three was Mediterranean. It was impressive the way there are so many numeric “rules” applied to the design of every building. One building that particularly called my attention was one with the numbers 444 as part of the address. Of course, those are angel numbers, which already could stand out. However, it was the symmetry that captivated me the most. Every window and color pattern is seperated into three sections. And the way they used blue paint to represent water falls. Their combination of Mediterranean style along with Art Deco is seamless in this structure. 

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