Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my beautiful hometown, Miami.
Miami Encounter as Text
“Encountering My Home”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU at Miami, January 29, 2022
Recently I had a guy from Chicago ask me what my favorite thing about Miami is. It took me a minute to answer, not because I do not like Miami but because there is so much, I love about it. I fully believe that I could not love a place more. I grew up here and have never gotten tired of Miami; there is always something new to learn about it.
There are so many things to love; the people, the beaches, the history and so much more.
From the Tequesta to the current inhibitors, Miami never stopped being beautiful and unique. It is a place that cannot be replicated or found anywhere else; it is one of a kind.
Miami to many is famous for what the movies show: nightlife, Hispanics, and drugs but it is so much more than that. While those things were what put Miami on the map there is also the before and the after. The native tribes, Spaniards, migrations, and more formed Miami to a habitable and incredible place.
Miami is currently now a diverse city with many cultures inhabiting it. It is very welcoming and gives a place for many to build a stable life. Everywhere you go there is a new person to talk to with a different background and a different story; no one here has the same story.
The land itself is gorgeous with prime beaches, the Everglades, mangrove forests and more. I personally have always loved nature but especially the beach. This beach is probably the most popular thing Miami has always had to offer. People do not know there is an interesting story to how the beach came to be. Miami Beach was man made rather than being natural and the Tequesta inhabited it. It was a mangrove forest before Spaniard and colonists decided to cut them down and make it the ‘perfect’ vacation spot. Modernly, with the many tourists, it now has unique buildings (in art deco and nemo styles) that can never be found anywhere else. It is one of the most visited spots in the entire world. Everyone wants to see the funky buildings, party lifestyle and carefree attitudes of this trendy beach city.
Oksana Baiul once said: “One of my favorite vacation places is Miami, because of the people, the water and the beach – of course – and the architecture on Miami Beach is so wonderful.” Miami, my home, is a beautiful city with so much to offer. From unique places like Vizcaya, Coconut Grove and downtown to beautiful beaches and amazing people, Miami is an ideal place to be. I love my home and am glad to learn about its history no matter how good or bad it is. Everything I learn about Miami is another reason to love it because it has grown from its past.
From now on, I want to learn and educate about Miami to anyone who will listen because it is so interesting. Everything in its history is connected and is worth learning about.
Everglades as Text
“Appreciation of Old Land”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Everglades, January 11, 2022
Exactly 14 minutes from my dad’s job there is one of the greatest wonders of Florida, the Everglades.
The Everglades is a unique mix of landscapes that is a habitat for loads of species, especially rare ones. Established in 1947, Everglades National Park is one of the favorite spots for conservationists, scientists, and advocates. Since its official date, the land has been conserved, protected, and bettered.
Once getting to the Everglades, we first visited a hole which is not remarkably interesting until you learn about the land’s history. We were told that the piece of land around us had gone through many hands and had gotten worse and worse over time until the National Park got its hands on it and started to better the landscape. Now, even if it looks plain, you can see the obvious regeneration of the land and how little by little it is growing back into a habitable space for wild animals.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to go slough slogging through the Everglades. Like the Deering Estate Hike, this involved getting into water and going through a forest. Something about the whole experience was serene and enjoyable. My love for nature allowed me to really get excited to see all of what the Everglades offered; good and bad.
The Cypress Dome was nothing short of a spectacular sight that would leave anyone speechless. The water, crystal clear, was cold enough to surprise you but still very inviting. The trees, close together but spaced out enough to walk through, made it seem like something out of Avatar or Star Wars. The subtle noises of nature completed the atmosphere and left me feeling complete. The sight was nothing short of gorgeous.
Once close to the tree forest our guides gave us a minute to separate and take in the land. This was the perfect opportunity to study the environment around me. Once there, I understood what Marjory Stoneman Douglas meant when she wrote The Everglades: River of Grass.
“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them; their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida.”
No one could have described the beauty of the Everglades more perfectly than she did. You could feel the love and appreciation she had for the natural landscape. It bleeds into the reader, and they feel the same thing for it. Being there and reading an excerpt from her book has given me that feeling. No doubt I will be back there soon!
Coconut Grove as Text
“Cocoanut Grove: A Self Discovery”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Coconut Grove, January 11, 2022
Back when my parents were in high school / college, Coconut Grove was not much but Coco Walk and when I was in high school ‘the Grove’ was primarily to visit an expensive restaurant. I know better than anyone that if Professor Bailly finds the location important enough to include in Miami in Miami then there must be more to see than just a few restaurants and a mini shopping center. I, of course, was correct and a whole new part of Miami history was presented to me.
I was shown an incredible part of Miami and it ended up being one of my favorite class visits.
As the old oldest black neighborhood in Miami, Coconut Grove has a lot of hidden history especially from the Bahamian settlers that moved up from the Keys. Just off main avenue there are small wonders like the Mariah Brown house and a Bahamian cemetery.
The Mariah Brown house history is a one of the first and most important for the respect of POC woman in Miami. Mariah Brown, a new inspiration of mine, was a Bahamian worker who was a single parent to three kids. She always wanted to do better for herself and her kids, so she made one risky decision after another. Thanks to her dedication dan love, she left the keys, got a job at the Peacock hotel, bought a house, and still had time to be a mother. Her house is a reminder of the resilience and arduous work Miami was built upon and how women are the cornerstone of it.
The Barnacle was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. As it has been referred to “the best backyard in Miami” is a small hidden gem in Miami. Ralph Munroe, a boat enthusiast, one day decided that his life was no longer in New York but in South Florida; specifically, Biscayne Bay. There he built a home out of old boat parts and lived happily for the rest of his life. He built an incredible house, even adding a second first floor, and it has survived over 100 years. I was left impressed and inspired by the house and its story.
Plymouth Congregational Church impacted me, it truly did. I am Catholic to a certain extent; I do not actively practice it like I should. MY whole life was dictated by the religion as I went to Catholic school from the ages 2-18. I gained some respect from my religion but also doubt since it is so broad and there is never for sure answer. To all the churches I have been with this class and in part Professor Bailly, each one has been beautiful and represents something wonderful, but this church was different. Plymouth Congregational Church is an “open and affirming congregation” that welcomes anybody and everybody to celebrate their faith. One their website they highlight this: “we don’t all look or think alike, we all worship together.” To me this is what truly impacted me, Christianity and reaching to Catholicism, is about unity and being all one in God and hearing someone speak so honestly about the mission of the church and how it aligns with my views was very impactful. I was mesmerized by the place and even asked for a minute in there alone.
I learned a lot about Miami and Coconut Grove but especially about myself. Even being the same person I was before, I know within myself some things shifted and I hope I can expand on that as time goes on and I discover more.
Coral Gables as Text
“Views from Childhood”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Coral Gables, February 8, 2022
Growing up Coral Gables was a place I often went to. It never failed to amaze me. The Mediterranean influence and spectacular buildings were my favorite things to look at once passing the ‘Welcome to Coral Gables’ entrance. Before, to me, Coral Gables was more of a place to go to do something businessy but now I really take notice of it; I see the wide sidewalks, the open air spaces (especially good to study), the great pieces of history and purposeful pieces of nature.
Thankfully, they have kept Coral Gables almost completely the same, not taking away from its originality and beauty. Miami is a gorgeous city, that’s undeniable. Each little piece of Miami is separately beautiful. Coral Gables is no exception to that; it arguably might be the most beautiful part of Miami.
The city beautiful project was basically designed for Coral Gables. George Merrick, controversial in lots many ways, sold the idea of making a ‘city beautiful’ to people very easily. He was quoted in saying “what you are really selling is romance, the stars, the moon, the tropics, the wind off the blue water and the perfume of flowers that never grew in northern climes.” His inspiration was Spain and their lands and how its unfamiliar beauty could be welcomed in a new place. He had never traveled to Spain but got inspired from the Spain derived lands like Cuba and Mexico and from the tutoring he received.
Walking around the area, it is very obvious that the architecture is almost a direct copy of the buildings and home in Spain. Every detail is almost the same, even the ones with Moorish influences; like the ones that have open spaces. Merrick believed the natural nature would be harmonized well with typical Spanish builds rather than Western builds that were taking over most of the United States.
Coral Gables might be the closest thing to living in Europe that you can get in Miami and while it is basically picture perfect, it is far from it. There are things to be fixed, environment to be saved and issues to be resolved. For example, Merrick was a man with racist ideals and while Bahamian workers built him his image, he wanted to push them farther away from him and “his” completed projected; yet this man has a statue of his that places him in the likeness of Michealangelo’s ‘The David’. While his name should not be completely ignored, the statue seems unnecessary and completely ignorant to those who actually built Coral Gables.
Like the rest of Miami, the history is a little iffy and uncomfortable, but it still makes the Coral Gables of today. What is best to do now is defend those who built it and continue to keep the beauty of it alive. I want the next generation of Miamians to be able to have the same wonder and amazement of Coral Gables as I did but I want them to know more than me; I want them to appreciate the history and the influences. Coral Gables remains as one of my favorite spots in the whole world and I hope that it will continue to be forever.
Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my beautiful hometown, Miami.
Historic Miami as Text
By Jeanine Prado of FIU at Downtown Miami, September 7, 2022
One of my favorite stories to come out of Miami history is about William Wagner, Eveline Aimar, and their little family. Miami has always been recognized as a melting pot for multiple cultures and races; the Wagners might have been the first instance of that.
The German man and French-Creole woman built one of the oldest structures in Miami. Within the structure lived a mixed family that were open to befriending the Seminoles; who their people told them were the enemies.
The Wagners became the middle ground and further pushed the mixed population agenda here in Miami. I often am proud to see the place I come from be applauded for its inclusivity. The years between the Wagners and me cannot be erased nor can we ignore it; segregation happened, POC people were used as slaves and people died at the hands of others for the land. Miami has troubling history, like the rest of the U.S.A, but it was able to grow from that. Taking the life of the Wagners into example and advice from Julia Tuttle (a woman who defined Miami before it really became Miami) it became a beautiful and loved piece of land.
To show its beauty a representative art piece sits off to the side of the government building. The shattered fruit bow fruit with orange slices and peels represent the chaotic city of Miami and applauds what makes it up.
Looking at the art piece, you must understand Miami. Miami is not just a tourist spot nor is it just a party city nor is it a missing piece of Latin America; Miami is a world within itself that cannot be defined by one thing. The art piece reflects the notion that Miami has layers and pieces that make it up. I look at the art piece and see my Miami represented perfectly and I applaud the collaborators Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen for getting Miami right.
In my opinion, one of the most defining pieces of architecture in Miami is the Freedom Tower. The tower, a copy of the Giralda Tower in Sevilla, is located on the border of downtown and does not look out of place even next to the FTX Arena or Bayside. It became the Freedom Tower in the 60’s when it was used as a place for Cuban refugees. Since then, it has represented freedom and opportunity. Its location could not be any more Miami-esque with the ocean right there and the party life waiting to start at Bayside.
Downtown has so much deep-rooted history that I did not know of but nonetheless it is beautiful. No matter how troubling the past is and how much making up we need to do, Miami is still a fast-paced city that has changed so much for the better of its people. As you walk through the streets of downtown you can really see how Miami has developed and changed as a city and as a community overall. My love for this city grows the more I learn about it.
Overtown & Hialeah as Text
“As time goes on, things change.”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Overtown and Hialeah, September 21, 2022
I just turned 20 and looking back at my life 5 years ago, it was nothing like it is now. I look older, I have new friends, a new dog and have a different view of life. As time passes, we experience change, and it is often necessary.
Overtown, Miami’s most overlooked and under appreciated part, is a victim of change; not completely good change. Gentrification has led to massive changes within the area. The idea of gentrification seems great because it can better a poor area, but it causes a lot of problems for the inhabitants of the area. As homes get bought out, businesses get rebuilt and expressways go over the town, more people end up leaving than staying around; they cannot keep up with the standard of living.
Great Bethel church still stands but is in danger of being bulldozed and replaced by something trendier. As one of the first established and organized dominions in Overtown it is important to many but as the surrounding area gets replaced and people get pushed out, less and less people are there to save the church.
Mrs. Alberta Godfrey talked beautifully about her experience and how as a realist she came to terms with the change. Even though it breaks her heart to see the things she grew up with leave it is just a part of life. Even with a realist mind she shows her hope that at least her church can stay strong and stay as a haven for those who remain.
It is comforting knowing that some things will stay around. Great Bethel church is an example as well as Jackson Soul Food. A restaurant that has not lost its roots is exactly what an area like Overtown needs. Its food and culture remind people of where they come from and gives them a sense of familiarity. The restaurant is still at risk, even if presidents like Clinton visited it. Overtown is not considered historical and does not have the same level of respect as other parts of Miami. The history of Overtown will always be at risk unless we fight to keep it alive. Overtown is important for the formulation of the melting pot Miami id and without it we would be missing a huge part of Miamian history.
Hialeah Park is an abandoned hidden gem in Miami. Historically known for its horse racing and pink flamingos, it now welcomes a group of gamblers. Things changed and slowly we lost things that once made Miami.
Winston Churchill, Britian’s Prime Minister (1940-1945), was quoted as saying “Extraordinary!” The moment he looked upon the racetrack. Standing in a similar place I can see the beauty that he saw. The vast field had its natural charm, and the flamingoes added a sense of exoticness that could not be found anywhere else.
It is funny how time works. Barely a year before I was born, racing horses became illegal, and it halted the traffic that was coming to Hialeah Park. Only a year difference and not once was I told about it. Now 20 years later is when I got to find this beautiful piece of history.
I wish that a lot of these pieces of history would have stayed. How exceptional would it be to see a jazz singer in Lyric Theatre or have a drink at Hialeah Park while races happened (not horses)? Miami history would not be at such a risk to be lost.
Miami is dependent on its history to make it what it is. Some things need to be saved and kept around because without them Miami would become nothing more than another city with nothing too special about it.
Biscayne Bay/ Chicken Key as Text
“The Kingdom of Chicken Key”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Chicken Key, October 5, 2022
In no way am I an environmentalist; the only thing I really do is recycle and to some extent I am not the best at it. I have never thought or really cared about the land around me that is not in my immediate reach. I never really cared or wanted to.
To be honest, when we were told that we were going to be cleaning up Chicken Key (the uninhabited island off Biscayne Bay) I was not too excited. Do not get me wrong, I wanted to go and help a bit but more selfishly I wanted to go so I can be in the water, kayak, and tan a bit. It was wrong of me to think that; to avoid the obvious help that the environment needs.
I was not an environmentalist prior to reaching the island but once we got there and I saw how that island was and I became one. I wanted nothing more than to pick up every ounce of trash and leave that island looking brand new. I even went around the island looking for anything that could have been missed. It is sad to see how much of the island suffers after a hurricane or due to uncaring individuals. It was like the mangroves were begging for our help.
I decided that this land is important and not for business/ entertainment purposes (f*** the Whole Foods in Downtown) but for historical and grounding purposes. I want to see Chicken Key become something beautiful on its own. I want no one to touch it in any harmful way. I want to find other islands like Chicken Key and protect those as well.
There’s also history there. A long time ago the island was not full of trash and was inhabited by the Tequesta. Alongside the Tequesta there was natural wildlife that was living there peacefully. The waters were clear, and the tribe was safe. Ruining this island would ruin its history and everyone would forget about it. I am glad this island is almost completely unknown because then there is less effort to ruin it and make it into a tourist attraction or hang out spot.
Nothing beats looking out and seeing the clear water and thinking about how far the next island is or if I could swim to Cuba. There is this peace and tranquility that could only be matched by clear, calm waters and uninhabited shores. Chicken Key has these qualities, and it should be cared for.
If it were more accessible, I would often take the chance to go out there and enjoy the natural beauty for at least a few hours. The kayak ride and then the time on the island make for the perfect day and or afternoon, especially if all you want to do is escape for a little while.
Also, the Caribbean is seen as such a tourist trap because it has been made to be one. Islands like Cuba and the Dominican Republic close their beaches off to the inhabitants there to save it for the tourists. The Bahamas has islands owned by cruise lines and has the natives working the stands not enjoying the natural beauty of their home. I feel like this is an issue no one seems to talk about, and it might be too late to fix it but as someone who grew up surrounded by the Caribbean and has family literally living on an island, I feel like people need to realize that were taking away the beauty of these places and using it for monetary gain.
Vizcaya as Text
“Deering’s Dionysus Dream”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Vizcaya, October 19, 2022
It’s unknown if James Deering lived his life exactly like he wanted to, but we can easily say he lived spectacularly. I bet that’s what Pope John Paul II said to President Reagan after walking through the beautiful home that is James Deering’s Vizcaya; at least that’s what I would have said.
Latest technology was necessary for both Deering’s, but James seemed to immediately fit it into his house. A telephone booth, elevators, vacuums, refrigerators and dumb waiters are just some of the things that he managed to incorporate into his Miami home. No one could imagine living so modernly at the time and people would often visit him with a sense of awe for the newest of the new. In his elaborate rooms (that he literally pluck out of Europe like the four walls and and roof) he could discuss all his new things and further his popularity among visitors. In his dark study with the giant painting of his kids (but not his kids) he can play the part of serious, intimidating businessman while just a secret bookshelf door away his real friends are drinking and smoking the time until he can join them again and be the oh-so-wanted James Deering.
Vizcaya’s prized possession which is cherished more now, probably more than before, is the garden. Though something inherently simple with orchids, eucalyptus and various bushes have intricate details spread throughout. The maze and mini arena are randomly placed of the side of the garden and the statue of Luda is almost to hidden to find it. Its oddly romantic with lovers benches placed around and fountains lining the rows. Deering could not have owned something more subtly romantic and high status and incredible.
James Deering was a maximist. His style did not match his brother’s Charles who had a much humbler living style when compared to James. He always had to go to an extreme; his house, his energy and his general being could never be described as simple. I could understand him; why be boring when you could be the moment.
My favorite little thing in Deering’s home is right in the entrance (technically the back entrance) and that is the Dionysus statue over the bathtub. It quite literally encapsulates the message Deering wants to convey to his visitors; let loose and enjoy life. It almost compares to the often to seen Jesus/ religious figures that show that the house is ‘holy’ and ‘protected’.
Even as a white rich man, James Deering seems to define Miami perfectly. His avant-garde approach to life and his extremist style matches the general idea of Miami as a city and home. To the people who live here we see Miami as our place of expression with street art, cultural events and mixed homes. Through Vizcaya one can get a small taste of what Miami and all is inhabitants are.
I believe that instead of an Our Father or a Hail Mary, James Deering would say:
‘Dionysus, I beg, plague me with your drunken spirit, free me of my heavy heart, let me revel in your happiness, I beg’
Miami Beach as Text
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Miami Beach, November 2, 2022
“It is Paris that makes one feel poetic, Rome that makes one feel heroic, yet it is Miami that makes one feel young.”
Being new to Miami is always a culture shock to people; especially when they arrive at South Beach. They have this idea of partying, neon lights and a never-ending beach and while that is something you find, those people often look over the importance and history embedded there.
My cousin, a month away from her thirties and barely living life outside of communist Cuba, jumped the border to come live with us in Miami. Of course, she came with the basic idea of what Miami was and how it was going to look. She did not expect to fall in love with it.
It was like Gianni Versace’s story. A fashion driven queer man from Milan who was passing by instantly fell in love with Miami Beach. The sexiness and loudness of the wonderous beach district attracted him and left him with a dire need to be there; just a street separating the beach. He did not expect to fall in love with it, but he did.
Obviously, Miami Beach has more to offer than a beach and a few tourist spots to line it. There is a mix of architecture, one-of-a-kind locations and insane art pieces. It is very avant-garde and conceptually overwhelming but nonetheless it works for Miami. A surplus of art deco, the Scarface staircase from the chainsaw scene, a giant ball sculpture and Versace mansion all sound completely random and unfitting together but the flow in the natural sense of Miami.
It is quite incredible how many ways Miami can be represented and described. It is a given that Miami Beach is going to be the first thing one talks about and where most people try to vacation, but it also has the trivial things to talk about; things that could never be forgotten once experienced. The Clevelander, the News Café and basically anything down Ocean Drive fall under those little things.
Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, once said “I don’t know how anyone lives in Miami…Because no one goes to sleep.”
He’s right; New York may never sleep, but Miami must never stop. It feels like anywhere, especially at Miami Beach there are people enjoying some aspect of life here. Have it be those biking down Lummus Park or waiters enjoying the outdoor breeze, there is always something. Miami Beach is beautiful in that way; nothing is worth not enjoying. Everywhere you look there is something amazing and enjoyable about it. Like a giant ball sculpture between two buildings or the tiny details in art deco designs, or the pier looking over South Pointe and even buildings that look like boats.
There has always been a reason Miami was so dreamed about that it even made a man move from Europe to reside there. It is the place itself, having something setting it apart from the rest and its people celebrating that.
“Miami is one of these great places that is a really sensual, physically beautiful place.”
Deering Estate as Text
“Plane Crashes and Butterflies”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Deering Estate, November 16, 2022
I was raised in the outdoors; from freshly cut back lawn grass to open natural spaces. I always was a curious child; I asked too many questions and tried to reach every inch of every place. That made me a little troublemaker as I easily would wander off in search of a new thing or new adventure.
At 20, an age where I know people spend more time inside than out, I choose to remain the same. I prefer the outdoors with the breeze hitting me and the sun blazing. It seems like the perfect place to me.
Deering Estate is 80% nature and 20% indoor space. Charles Deering wanted to keep the original nature alive in his Miami home. He kept the original cottage, Richmond Cottage and built himself a Sitges-replica home right next to it. A beautiful basin sits peacefully with manatees swimming happily. Surrounding the buildings there is Miami nature all around but the real wonders lie past a fence not open to the general public.
I hate restrictions and knowing there were things to see past a fence on Deering Estate it made me wonder what could possibly be on the other side. When the chance presented itself to get past the fence on Charles Deering’s humble estate and into his preserved nature reserve, I took it.
Once the class started our walk with Anna and Bailly knew I was going to love what we were doing. Going to the mangroves and the rock and seeing all the different landscapes was something I will never probably experience ever again. And I could go on about how many things I saw, how preserved it was and how beautiful it was, but I’m going to focus on two key things: the cocaine cowboy plane crash and the Atala butterfly.
The cocaine cowboy plane crash is so Miami that not much else compares to it. Crashing in about the early 1990s, this small plane was used to carry the thing that made Miami cocaine. I hate to say that where I grew up was made on the drug business but that’s the truth. Before the 80s and the rise of the cocaine business Miami was much more of a quiet place. Mangroves surrounded it and people like Charles Deering came there to vacation. Even the beaches were men made rather than being nature’s own doing. I love the idea that a random plane used to carry illegal substances was abandoned in a mangrove forest and was slowly losing bit by bit. It reminds me just how odd Miami is in a way. It’s so full of people from so many different places and there’s so much to do in so much to see here that people often don’t know what to do. Weirdly I fear I feel a connection to the plane not because I’m a drug mule nor because I’m stuck in a mangrove forest but because it’s still there; the plane is still in Miami and will be for a while.
Now the Atala butterfly. Now I bet that most people are going to have the butterfly as a footnote in their blogs (I could be wrong) but I want to highlight it. This specific species of butterfly was thought to have been gone forever and most people thought they’d never see it again. It’s sad to think that a butterfly so beautiful could have easily been forgotten. Its black body makes it seem almost unspecial, but it has this beautiful orange red body and small blue details that make it more than spectacular; that makes it stand out. Deering Estate has been able to do something special. They were able to plant species of plants that thrive in Miami and allow a space for these butterflies and possibly other animals to come back and make themselves known. Having these native plants and giving them a space to thrive, let’s Miami thrive. Knowing that these butterflies are now native to here and probably will live here forever gives me a certain satisfaction and happiness that I am glad to have.
I know that this blog was supposed to be about Charles Deering and his estate, and I was supposed to talk about how he was a rich man who couldn’t get a lighthouse, so he added a light to his porch or how he was in the agriculture business. I think his efforts in saving Miami native nature needs to be highlighted more than anything. Decades later I get to enjoy the real Miami because of him, and I thank him for that.
Rubell Museum as Text
“Finding a New Passion”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Rubell Museum, November 23, 2022
Rubell museum is a one-of-a-kind place. A collection of contemporary art made over decades by a dedicated art loving couple. Their collection has grown to extents that have allowed them to have two museums and they are proud to open it to the public. Walking around the place you can see the love and appreciation that went into this collection. After meeting Mera Rubell, I realized just how much all those pieces meant. I saw the magic she was talking about in every room I walked through. She inspired me to be open and enjoy art, not question it.
Some art pieces I loved were:
Yayoi Kusama – Infinity Room and Narcissus Garden
Kusama’s art pieces are simple but profound. The narcissus garden is so inspirational as it allows the viewer to look at themselves and really think about what they see. It inspires us to look further into ourselves without doing much. Each room installed there gives you curiosity and has you look for an answer but without asking a question. Kusama perfectly immerses the people into the art and leaves a lasting effect from it.
Keith Harring – Figures with Hearts
Keith Harring is a graffiti artist who found success in simple designs. This piece, one you can see across the museum from the entrance, stands out and calls for attention with the big bright red heart. His figures, famous around the world, are dancing in front of the heart. There is no message and there is no set idea. It is just a painting to admire and enjoy. I love to just look at it as it simply brings me joy; reminds me to just love and enjoy anything in my life.
Urs Fischer, Sarah Lucas, Kaari Upson – Untitled
I am a secret romantic always hoping to see happily ever after and I always try to find the romance in random pieces. This piece to me represents the sadder side to love which is destined lovers who have yet to meet. The candles and flames represent people and their connection. The spinning sticks represent their proximity, and the circle represents the days that pass by without each other. I know their story has a sadder ending because they will never meet but still there is hope they will. Something I noticed later was that the shorter stick had wax on it, which means their paths have crossed but they have yet to discover each other. It is a complicated piece with no set meaning but this is the one I personally gave it.
Barbara Kruger, et al. – The Pictures Generation (MY FAVORITE!!)
I genuinely was immersed in these pieces. I have always loved photography and thought that a captured snippet of time could show so much. In these three pieces, there is something so classic but also not about the pieces. The pieces are so simple and have almost nothing going on in them, but it still has me entranced. I never concluded what it was or what it means, but I like it; I keep thinking about it and loving it at the same time. Like Mera Rubell said, art finds you and it is up to you to figure out how you feel about it and what it is telling you.
Untitled as Text
“Unique and Untitled”
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Untitled, November 30, 2022
In Miami in Miami, I have learned a lot but mostly I found a new passion; art!
Miami Beach Art Basel is a prestigious event that I never thought I would go to. Untitled, though not technically Art Basel, was a taste of the art fair. Galleries upon galleries but together in a giant tent right on Miami Beach is an impressive sight.
Once walking inside, you feel the eccentric artist and snobby richness of the people walking around. I almost felt out of place in my Urban Outfitters top and Forever 21 boots, yet I still involved myself as if I were one of those people. I pretended that I dropped $45 and gathered every piece of art knowledge I had and took a lap around the tent.
I walked around like I had millions to spend and as if I knew everything there was to making art. It did me well as I was able to fully immerse myself in this experience.
The three galleries we visited as a class were interesting and each had a specific aspect that I enjoyed.
The man who founded it, Brook Dorsch, intrigued me. He made something so big from just a love of art and a small apartment.
When I asked him if he remembered his first exhibit ever, he laughed and said, ‘of course I do.’ He told me it was a group of his friends just showing whatever they could in his apartment. He laughed again when he told me that none of those friends were ‘real artist.’ It was great seeing someone who was not scared of failing and just wanted to share art with others.
Founded by Natalia Kates with her husband, this exhibit aims to represent anyone who has struggled to find representation. Natalia Kates spoke very passionately about representation and how important it was to give these people a chance, especially since society many times has not.
There were powerful pieces shown there that really represented POC and women. It puts into perspective how beautiful life can be and how everyone’s life can be depicted similarly but also differently. I personally loved the clay airplane windows piece. It is something everyone can relate to and see their own perspective
My favorite of the three; this gallery specializes in pieces that celebrate contemporary and how simple objects and ideas can amass too so much.
The artist who spoke, Magnus Sigurdarson, is eccentric and views life as something fun and enjoyable. I loved him and how he talked about his art and how it is something he wants people to be mesmerized by. He also talked so nonchalantly about his work as if it were something so easy for him. Actually, now writing this I look up to the man; I want to be him. I want to regularly wear sunglasses on my head and produce completely random art pieces that people just love for no reason other than it is just fun and interesting.
Chosen Neighborhood as Text
by Jeanine Prado of FIU at Sunny Isles Beach, December 10, 2022
Chosen Neighborhood: Sunny Isles Beach
The word riviera is defined by Merriam Webster as a coastal region frequented as a resort area and usually marked by a mild climate. Sunny Isles Beach is exactly that.
I went to Sunny Isles Beach with my little brother and my two cousins who recently came from Cuba. None of us had ever been to this beach and we were expecting something like South Beach especially since Sunny Isles Beach is in North Miami Beach. We were pleasantly surprised by how it differed from South Beach.
Sunny Isles is luxurious (obviously as the Ritz Carlton and TWO Trump towers are right next to the beach entrance) but it is relaxing and casual. It is as if you grabbed all the best aspects of Miami Beach and put it up North.
We started our day normally by waking up early (but leaving way later than expected) and heading to Publix to buy too many snacks. We then headed to the beach taking the expressway for a lot longer than I expected and circled for parking for a good twenty minutes. Once we parked, all four of us filled our hands with the things we brought and walked down to the public beach. As soon as we touched the sand and looked at the gorgeous blue water, we knew we would love this beach.
The beach itself is nothing short of stunning. The water was a mix of light blues that had the light reflect nicely on it. The sand was smooth and was a satisfying off white. The beach felt like one that would appear in my dreams. With almost no people on the small public beach and free shade from a classy hotel, we could enjoy the beach as if it were just there for us four.
Everywhere I go I try to friend something unique or interesting about the place; no matter how big or small it is. Something interesting about Sunny Isles is the Newport Fishing Pier. It is huge and is open to the public. It also homes a casual restaurant that almost seems out of place next to the tall hotels.
It is interesting just how Sunny Isles contradicts itself since most the hotels and restaurants go over three-dollar signs and has obviously rich people going in and out of them but at the same time regular people were just walking around and enjoying their day. It brings a nice balance to city life, proving just how special Miami is.
In the end we decided that Sunny Isles Beach was a place worth driving to and enjoying a long day on the beach. Even on a Saturday and with a small worry of the wind, we fell in love with the beach. After skim boarding, getting in the water, playing futbol and volleyball and just lazily laying out on the beach, we decided our day was more than perfect. It left us satisfied, calm and pleasantly tired; something we all needed.
My Miami as Text
“Mi Miami Maravilloso”
by Jeanine Prado at Miami, FL, December 11, 2022
“Miami is too bright and colorful to miss.”
Recently my cousin was talking to me about how she has found the United States but especially Miami. In movies and shows, many other cities are shown as these amazing cities that have everything to offer but Miami is always shown as the party or vacation spot. It is undermined and targeted as one thing. I never understood why but I like proving just how amazing it is. My cousin, who always dreamed of being in New York, recently said “yo no pensaba que Miami me iba encantar tanto.” Nothing made me happier than hearing that as I really tried to take her everywhere and have her experience Miami in all types of aspects.
Personally, I cannot love a place more than the one I am from. Of all the places I have been to (some multiple times) I have never found a place I love as much as Miami. Some people call me a ‘Miami girl’ and I happily agree as I could never see myself anywhere else.
Miami is unique, something that you will not find anywhere else; sometimes it is a good and bad thing but a balance always needs to exist. In one of the biggest cities in Florida, so much has happened over time.
What really gave Miami a name and what it then became known famously for is the drugs & nightlife. Movies like Scarface showed just how influenced Miami was by the drug life. Even at Deering Estate you could see a cocaine Cowboys plane crashed within the mangroves; the plane was left entirely and the one thing that those people saved were the kilos of cocaine. Through this Miami game gained the stigma of being a party city and while it is still true there is so much more that makes up Miami then just night clubs and substances.
Miami welcomes people from all around. It is a ‘melting pot’ of cultures and is a place where many feel safe to be in and build a life. Even if the stereotype is a bunch of Cubans, which is partially true, there are many people who come from other parts of Latin America and The Caribbean and Europe. If you look around Miami you will discover just how mixed it is. So many people I know come from mixed families like a Nicaraugan-Puerto Rican and Cuban-Dominican. The mix of these cultures makes Miami so special and like no other place because there is something for everybody. I will never get tired of meeting new people, finding out where they come from and listening to their story; Miami allows me to do that easily.
One more thing I want to talk about is the beaches. Miami is often chosen as a vacation spot for our famous beach. That beach is so much more than a beach, it is a place with deep roots in history. First that it was man-made and it used to have a forest of mangroves and after being cleared out now it only homes sand, ocean, and thousands of tourists. The buildings unique to South Beach are art deco and that style has yet to be replicated to the level it is here. The neon lights funky buildings and intense atmosphere makes it stand out from other beach towns and major cities. In Miami Beach you find all who call that place home, tourists, famous people, dreamers and more.
Overall, Miami is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. From unique museums (Vizcaya, Rubell Art) to beautiful beaches and amazing people, Miami is a perfect place to be. I love the place I came from and even if I cannot change all the terrible things about it, I still accept them because it is my home, the place I feel right in and the place I will never leave.
“It’s the kind of place you say, ‘That could never be me,’ and then it is. It’s a temptation that’s almost irresistible… but across the causeway, there are other worlds, older worlds, I think it’s safe to say, better ones.”
Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a Sophomore attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my hometown, Miami + Spain where my culture came from.
Madrid As Text
“Pueblito Hecho Cuidad”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Madrid, España, June 14, 2022
Cuba es mi país; yo no nací allí pero me identifico como cubana. Yo he ido a Cuba sobre tres veces y he visto diferentes lugares; una ciudad, un campo y una playa.
Yo nada más he estado en Madrid (la capital de España), apenas, una semana y mucho es como La Habana (la capital de Cuba). La Habana es una ciudad muy importante lleno de cubanos y restaurantes y tiendecitas, como se ve Madrid en la superficie. En foto son lo mismo, apartamentos con las ventanas abiertas, gente en restaurantes pidiendo café en el bar y gente caminando a donde tienen que ir.
Como La Habana, Madrid no es una ciudad muy grande y por mucho tiempo fue pobre. El Paseo de Prado, bello en los dos, está alineado con tiendas y restaurantes y atrae a la gente. Los parques (claro en Cuba más chiquitos) como el Parque de Retiro están llenos de gente encantada con la naturaleza y la paz. Los parques de La Habana no tienen un Palacio de Cristal o un Palacio de Velázquez lleno de arte contemporáneo o moderno. La Habana no tiene un acompañante como Sol en Madrid. Las plazas y mercados apenas llegan a medio del extremo de lo que es las de Madrid en Sol.
La diferencia es la historia y como están ahora. Cuba no se compara con la gran ciudad que se ha hecho Madrid. Madrid se convirtió en un lugar de gran importancia cuando Felipe II decidió mover la corte española de Toledo a Madrid. De allí Madrid creció y cambió. El pueblito ya no era pueblito pero ciudad.
Ahora atrae a la gente con museos como el Museo del Prado y La Reina Sofía. El Parque de Retiro ve caras nuevas cada día y el metro confunde a muchos turistas.
Madrid con todo lo viejo que se ve es moderno. Si fuera más como La Habana no valdría la pena escribir sobre él nuestra historia.
Madrid pasó por mucho con el comunismo y la guerra civil pero nunca paró de ser importante para los Españoles. El oso se queda parado contra el árbol y el reloj sigue diciendo la hora.
Como dije, Madrid no es un pueblo sino una ciudad.
“Vale la pena levantarse temprano- por una sola vez- para vivir un día de vida de Madrid.” Miguel Mihura
Toledo As Text
“Parading a Tradition”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Toledo, España, June 15, 2022
Last parade I saw that left me smiling as big as I was today was when I first saw the Disney parade that goes around in the early afternoon at Main Square.
I was never a person to take part in a parade, even less one that would willingly go to one but today was different. Me, Julie, Seba and Nicole talked to two old ladies and they mentioned a parade. I obviously thought they had their days confused because Corpus Cristi, the parade of the body of Christ around Toledo, was the next day not today. The more they talked about the more I realized that it was npt Corpus Cristi they were talking about but a completely different parade that happens yearly and traditionally the day before Corpus Christi in Toledo.
Professor Bailly said it better than anyone: “You just have to do.” That’s exactly what I did today. The next time I will be in Spain, let alone Toledo, is unknown to me and this event was one time a year; I just had to go to the parade; especially since they mentioned there would be a dragon.
Honestly, I had already found Toledo to be a deeply interesting town. In the walls it is stuffed with tradition. Just from walking the town you could see all the locals preparing for the celebration that is Corpus Christi. Even if someone were not religious in Toledo, on these two days you could not tell. Corpus Christi is not just a celebration of Christ and his sacrifice but of the whole town of Toledo. They have the most famous celebration with the biggest gold carrier for the body of Christ. Even our tour guide, Juanjo, told us that he was not religious but that Corpus Cristi was a sight to behold and gave him goosebumps.
I do believe him when he says that Corpus Christi is something special but I witnessed something that I was not expecting. The parade today was different from any parade I have ever seen. All the locals hurried to the front and gathered on the sides of the streets waiting for the hilariously ugly but also spectacular parade.
Me and the people I was with ran to find our Professor only to run into a big headed doll and a whole parade set up behind them. Once finding a spot directly in the sun, I danced to the fun beats of the drums and I swear my smile would grow bigger; I didn’t even think that a local parade would make me smile that much and it hadn’t even started.
Once it did, the whole place changed. We were sent back in time and all of a sudden I was not some girl visiting from Miami but a local celebrating a yearly celebration. I watched as the band started moving and playing exciting beats. Once the first band passed some scary and big headed dolls came waving. They were famous religious figures that are important to catholic history. Following that came the dragon which squirted water directly at us and on top it carried a puppet doll of one of the many wives of Henry the VIII (which according to two sweet old ladies, everyone in Spain hates). The parade continued in a similar fashion; Giant dolls and bands played through the town. At the end of the parade right behind the last band, we inserted ourselves into the parade. We followed the band joking around, dancing, laughing and having the times of our lives.
Even if the idea of a parade is childish, I would not want it any other way. It is often good to let go and let yourself be a child again. Not everything has a grade, or a deadline or a reason sometimes it just is and we have to let it be that. Being in that parade was exciting and fun and it brought me closer to people I did not know before 2022. I will never forget the day I was in a parade in Toledo with my arm linked in Juli’s, Seba jokingly waving like a prince, Nicole smiling wide and the professor just watching us probably proud that his students are experiencing what Spain truly is. I will forever and always keep that memory with me and I hope to never lose it.
Granada As Text
“Better Than Any Disney Castle”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Granada, España, June 21, 2022
The movies and TV shows taught us that castles are supposed to be grand and take your breath away from the very first glance. It happened to Rapunzel when she saw the castle in Tangled.
Those people were left speechless as I probably would’ve been. Walking up to the Alhambra, I saw nothing special; just another stone building which was gonna have a similar history as every other stone building in Spain.
It might have a similar hirtosy but the Alhambra is something that does not compare to any Disney castle. The initial walk in is normal, nothing much but after the first walkway you walk into something mind blowing.
There’s mosaics that might’ve not taken long but amaze even the most intelligent people. The ceilings are made up of squares that spiral into the heavens. The subtleness of religion is at points better representative of God and his power than the baroque pieces and exaggerated paintings.
The Alhambra leaves people like me in awe. Every step I took was a new masterpiece. I never thought of myself as minimalistic and growing up I was told that God had to be represented in the most extreme ways but that’s not true. I see God more in the mosaics of the alcazar and in the hints at 7. Catholicism, though it is my faith, has proven to be an extreme religion in the sense that they need to be above all; at least in the 1400’s-1800’s.
The Alhambra is the most incredible but most humble form of praising God. In its simplest form, it is perfect. There was no need for more.
Sevilla As Text
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Sevilla, España, June 23, 2022
Sevilla was above any expectation I had. Before leaving Miami, I was told Sevilla was beautiful and nice. Those people were not wrong but they did underplay the city.
As soon as our bus drove into Macarena, Sevilla was something to experience. The Islamic influence is spread out through the town with white buildings lined with bright colors and in important buildings like the Giralda.
Sevilla is in the province of Andalucía and is the capital of it. Sevilla had the three religions (Catholicism, Judaism and Islam) living there and in modern times it is evident to us. Sevilla is actually full of wonderful things that people often forget about like the Plaza de España which lost its chance to shine when the Great Depression stopped it from being used.
I won’t forget Sevilla. I can see myself habiting a space there and joining the locals in their daily life. I could be having my morning coffee day outside watching all the Sevillanos pass me by. I want 1 am to come by and I’m laughing over beers with my friends. I want to romanticize a city that shouldn’t be romanticized, especially not one that applauds Columbus and bans Jews and takes over islamic communities.
Now the city may be heading a more liberal direction and the views have changed but that does not erase the years of abuse.
Sevilla has its positives like how it was the gateway to the Spanish Indies but it did have its negatives.
I love Sevilla not for its beauty but for its deep history that has seemed to entangle itself in the modernity of today’s times. I loved Sevilla and I won’t forget it.
Sitges As Text
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Sitges, España, June 26, 2022
One of my favorite day trips had to be the one we took to Sitges; a beautiful little beach town just a short train ride away from Barcelona. Stepping off the train and onto the rocky road you can feel the calmness and good-natured vibe that Sitges offers. The town left me in love with it; from Rusiñol’s house to the simple beach, all of it was unexpectedly perfect.
The house of Santiago Rusiñol sits unsuspectingly waiting for visitors to be amazed by the inside. The Moderniste inspiration is visible; all his paintings are crammed into the walls yet not one overpowers the other. You can look around and find from the most complex to the most simple pieces and they all awe you. His four pieces bought from a young Picasso are not placed in protective glass or are name plaqued, his painting just sit there on the wall an arm reach away. There is a simple beauty in his house that is only replicated by few.
Charles Deering fell into the same awe I did as he did not hesitate to offer a bid to Rusiñol for the house. After a strong and heartset no, Deering did the next best thing and bought all the surrounding real estate which included Sitges’s old hospital. Deering wanted Sitges to be the art centre of Spain and tried his best to do it until World War II stopped him from returning to Europe.
Even without becoming the art centre of Spain or changing much since Deering’s time there; Sitges remains an important and very special place for Spain. In a heartbeat I would go back and relive the day I had there. I’d walk around in my black dress and heels, I’ll drink the expensive cava, I’ll eat the caesar salad and Andalucia style calamaris and I’ll spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach. If there was a perfect day of this program for me it would be the Sitges day.
Barcelona As Text
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Barcelona, España, June 29, 2022
Since beginning this program the place I wanted to go the most was Barcelona. Maybe it was because of the shopping I knew I was gonna get to do there or the beach but something about Barcelona always seemed to excite me.
The capital of Catalunya is more than I would have expected.
There is beauty at every corner of Barcelona. The moderniste art that encapsulates the city is unbelievably special and beautiful. Architect Antoni Gaudí once said: “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.” These words are evident in two of his biggest architectural achievements: La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.
La Sagrada Familia is a beautiful spectacle inside and out. Outside is decorated to the extreme with the Birth of Christ and the Passion. My favorite is the forest inside that is oddly simple but ideally complex. The stained glass windows provide a gorgeous glow while also depicting the two sides of Christ.
Park Guell is a lot less complex but still impresses me. Gaudí abandoned the idea of riches and having to use the most expensive things in his build and used basically garbage to build Park Guell. It was packed with people wanting pictures of themselves next to moderniste art pieces that seemed to be part of a dinner plate set.
I for one loved Barcelona for the shopping and the beach but also for its uniqueness. If it’s walking through Las Ramblas or up a hill or through a random neighborhood, Barcelona will exceed expectations just like it did mine.
Hello, I’m Jeanine Prado. I am a freshmen attending the Honors College at FIU and majoring in Communications (PRAAC). I love meeting people and going out and experiencing life. I look forward to getting to know my classmates and my hometown, Miami.
Deering Estate as Text
“Hidden and Unseen”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Deering Estate, January 28, 2022
Have you heard someone say that they went somewhere specific and say there was ‘nothing special’ about that place?
Going to Deering Estate, that’s all I was thinking about. Every person that I mentioned Deering Estate to basically said that it was just a “pretty place with nothing to do.” I was not very excited but nonetheless I put a smile on my face and got ready to learn.
Nothing could have prepared me for the amazement that was Deering Estate. Every little thing had a reason for existing. The archways, the metal gates, the tiny details; it all had purpose. There were little animals added to the cement archways that were left by the Bahamians, providing evidence to who really built the estate. There were gold medallions in the ceiling that showed the richness and clasiness of Mr. Deering. There were patio lights that were used as a do-it-yourself lighthouse since the government would not give him one. Even though it is all seen, not many people have heard the history of it.
Deering Estate is much more than a fancy building; it’s a land with a deep past. One that is hidden and never seen. There are solution holes, mangroves and a multitude of wildlife hidden in the tall trees. Weaved into that wildness, there is Tequesta tribe history. Their tools are left as evidence to their existence; shells that were made to do everything. There are old roads and weathered trails that have aged with the land.
Deering Estate was much more than a “pretty place.” It was historic and beautiful; a place that is worth preserving.
Vizcaya as Text
“Modernity, Wealth and Sensuality”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Deering Estate, February 18, 2022
Vizcaya is a legendary piece of Miami history.
James Deering was a man of modernity, wealth and sensuality. He was basically the living version of the god Dionysus. Dionysus was the god of wine and pleasure which would perfectly play into James’ bachelor aesthetic. His need to be the richest and most interesting socialite was manifested into his glamorous, historical home: Vizcaya.
From the start James’ wealth is evident with the moat surrounding the massive home and the statue of Ponce De Leon standing tall at the entrance. Once entering into the mansion, his extreme wealth cannot be avoided. He had statues imported that would cost a fortune to replace and he had hundreds of priceless paintings (of kids he did not have and Deering relatives that were not his). His three yachts and many antiques proved him to be carelessly well off.
James Deering was a trendsetter. With his wealth came the ability to have the newest version of everything. He had the newest refrigerator, cork floors and an entire handcrafted dock. His room was always up to the trends; hand painted details and the newest pieces of furniture.
Vizcaya holds many of James’ secrets. He had secret passageways for late night rendezvous which is said to have been with anyone he desired. There is a painting hiding the pipes of the organ and a room painted to look like real marble. He had many small hidden details that alluded to his sensuality and the simple pleasures of life.
Miami as Text
“Culture: Gained and Lost”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Downtown Miami, March 11, 2022
Miami is arguably the most culturally diverse place in the United States.
Growing up here, you can hear, see and experience the diversity. Something people, even the Miamians, miss out on is the history and how Miami came to be.
When learning about Miami’s history the best place to start is Downtown Miami. Downtown has a perfect mix of new and old. The newly titled FTX Arena, a 1998 build, sits right across the street from the Freedom Tower, built in 1924. The Freedom Tower was the place where young Cuban immigrants from Operación Pedro Pan gained citizenship. For years I have gone to the arena and not once have I thought about what was across the street.
There is so much to learn about my home and Downtown is the place where I realized that.
While a lot of the history is still standing, some of it has been lost. There is barely evidence of the Tequesta tribe. A small tower depicting a massacre sits on a drawbridge and the only other evidence now has a Whole Foods over it.
Miami has always been fast-paced and has kept up with modernity but sometimes history gets left behind with so much new. Since the bahamians and the Deerings and the immigrations, Miami has been exposed to differing cultures. It will continue to change and grow but there has to be effort put into saving the past. Miami’s past is what will lead to Miami’s future and we can’t lose that.
SoBe as Text
“DECOrated in Nostalgia”
By Jeanine Prado of FIU in Downtown Miami, April 1, 2022
Nothing is more exciting than getting up at 7:30 AM, packing up the car with beach supplies and Publix groceries, and then starting the 45 minute drive to the beach.
The feeling of nostalgia that hits once you see the old art deco buildings and the familiar road signs is overwhelming. The soft pastels and bright signs/letters bring a sense of home and familiarity. Nothing beats the familiar color palette that is ‘Miami Vice’.
The shining sun beams down on the self acclaimed beach lovers as they lay on the warm sand. Even with tents and beach chairs, there is temptation to lay in the sun and just burn. The red burn or brown tint is also a welcome reminder of the overly packed but weirdly calm energy of South Beach.
Walking past the rich in a wet bikini and sand filled shorts as they eat their dinner at Smith and Walensky is an unmatched feeling. It’s two worlds coming together on the edge of Miami and no one judges the other. There is a silent agreement that we’re all there to enjoy the nostalgic and warm experience that can only be described as unrealistically homey.
On South Beach, the same beach that saw Scarface be filmed and years later a Jonas Brothers music video, there is no prejudice. Everyone there is there for the water, the sun, the sand and the relaxation; some even for the sentimentality.
Others are there for the famous nightlife but the temptation to walk around, even hungover, is too much. Miami welcomes everyone and the beach is where most of it comes together; far and wide all ❤️ SoBe.
South Beach (or Nikki Beach) will always feel like home. To me, my mom, my dad, my brother and the rest of Miami residents; immigrants and native born alike.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, calls music “the universal language of mankind.” As long as it grabs the attention and has a good rhythm it will reach worldwide. One of the most listened to and played genres of music in the whole world is the Latin music genre. The only issue that comes with people who enjoy Latin music is that they are often ignorant of its origin and just how it has affected the music industry. Without the deep history, it would be impossible to know why the music sounds the way it does and why there are so many emotions, rhythms and dances tied to it.
The Rise of Latin Music
Latin music is made from many differing rhythms, beats and vocals. This certain type of music is the product of many different cultures dating all the way back to Columbus and his time exploring the Americas and the Caribbean. It has its roots in Moorish culture. Through the Moorish culture, drums became a huge part of the beats and rhythms. As it spread throughout Caribbean countries it became a staple instrument. The Moorish culture is what molded the beginning of Latin music and allows it to be what it is today (CultureOwl).
As the times went by the music was adapted to what it is known as today. In the early 20th century, America welcomed the new sound that was very different and latin centric. One country that really brought attention to their music was Cuba, especially after the Cuban Emancipation in the late 1890’s. Their fast paced and upbeat rhythms inspired a lot of early 1900’s artists like Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy and Rudy Vallee. The inspiration from latin music went on to the mid 1900’s when artists from Cuba and Mexico started becoming famous in and out of their homelands. Benny Moré, a famous Afro Cuban from Cienfuegos, dedicated himself to performing fluid and electrifying songs that were fit for post-war clubbing. From Mexico, Perez Prado was also very influential with his mambo beats reaching the ears of many different people in the 1950’s. The most influential cities for these sounds were Miami (Cubans), New York (Puerto Ricans and Dominicans) and Los Angeles (Mexicans). After the 1950’s Latin music was higher on the charts and started to appear on mainstream radio stations . Later on The latin music would inspire rock n’ roll beats like “Black Magic Woman” by Santana and hip hop music like “Funky Drummer”by James Brown (PopMatters).
Genres in Latin Music
The genres of Latin music today all differ from place to place. Depending on its historical background there will be a different sound; it is established by the same culture. There are many diverse styles that can be seen all through Latin America. One thing they should have in common is that the genres should pull people to their feet and start dancing to the rhythm even if it is an intimidating one.
Genres that are most popular in Latin music are:
Latin pop is a mix of latin music with contemporary pop. It became popular in the 1970’s and is still popular today with artists like Ricky Martin and Shakira. Commercially this genre does best because it evolves as pop evolves and it best caters to what other cultures are familiar with (Audio Network).
Salsa is one of the most popular genres and it comes primarily from Cuba and Puerto Rico but has reached all over Latin America. Cubans brought their Afro-Cuban music to the U.S.A. and started a trend. The songs would start with a traditional timba sound and would build up into a fast tempo with strong Afro-Cuban beats in the background. When a salsa song started, someone from the band would yell ‘salsa’ to really start the party. Modernly, Marc Anthony continues making salsa inspired songs to get people up and dancing (Audio Network).
Bachata comes from the Caribbean island Dominican Republic. In the 1960’s, bachata was formed by combining son and bolero with troubadour singing. It really saw a rise in the 1990’s with more commercially successful bands incorporated bachata beats into their music using steel electric guitar and guira. Romeo Santos, previously in the boy band Aventura, is one of the most popular bachata singers till this day (Audio Network).
Tango is the genre most used in dance as it has appeared in movies and has been adapted by many cultures. Tango combines the traditional moves of flamenco, polka and hanabera to form a more sensual and slow dance. The song itself uses traditional instruments like guitar, piano, flute and violin to create the intense melancholy sound that is so familiar. “The King of Tango”, Carlos Gardel, drove the tango genre to its commercial success (Audio Network).
In 2022, the most popular genre of Latin music is reggaeton. Even with its origins dating back to the 1970’s it was not until the 1990’s that a big intro of reggaeton into the mainstream world was seen. Reggaeton is a mix of Jamaican reggae and salsa or bomba. With reggaeton, the song is usually sung in spanish and often includes rapping. 2004 was the year that reggaeton really hit the top charts with Daddy Yankee’s single “Gasolina” from his breakout album Barrio Fino (Audio Network).
These are not the only genres in Latin music. There are a majority of genres which are not as popular and are not often represented outside of their respective countries. Many artists do often try to include these lesser loved beats and rhythms in their songs.
Influential Artists in Latin Music
Many Latin artists have been able to reach international attention. Some have done it by mixing genres and cultures while others have stayed true to their preferred genre and culture. A lot of them have had an impactful career and continue to be some of the most listened to artists. As times change some artists adapt while others decide to continue with what they were already doing before.
Gloria Estefan perfectly executed the crossover between 1980’s pop with traditional Cuban music. Alongside the Miami Sound Machine, the Cuban artist reached mainstream stardom with the hit “Conga”. It was a musical revolution as this new sound that was not pop nor was it latin played in nightclubs and parties. She paved the way for many artists like her to play a part in the Latin music revolution that was to follow. Now she, alongside her also famous husband Emilio Estefan, continue to include their roots in big projects like movies, music and television (Billboard).
Selena Quintanilla, also known as “Mexican Madonna” and “Queen of Tejano”, had great success in the 1990’s espacially as a chicana in music. She made history by being the first Latin artist to gain success from the Tejano (a fusion of Mexican and Texan music) genre. In her short career she has five singles that reached number one on the billboard charts. Her hits like, “Como la Flor” and “Amor Prohibido”, are still classic hits that every latino knows. Her dancing, beautiful voice and intricate outfits left her to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century (Billboard).
Ricky Martin, high profile Puerto Rican gay artist, was big as a solo artist in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Prior to his solo career, in the mid to late 80’s, he was in the latin Puerto Rican based boy band called Menudo. With big international hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “She Bangs”, both with spanish and english versions, he was able to reach stardom. His songs have been included in lots of pieces of pop culture like Shrek 2 and Sex and the City. He has slowed down in his music career but that has not stopped him from touring and working on other projects especially with other artists like Enrique Iglesias.
Following in on the latin explosion, Enrique Iglesias, the son of classic Latin music star Julio Iglesias, is a prime example of the merging of cultures. On his website and on his Spotify it says: “recognized for his musical versatility across pop and urban genres in Spanish and English.” Similarly to Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias has recorded many songs and has released them in both Spanish and English or combined them in one song. His music, even in English, has heavy influence from traditional Spanish sounds like flamenco and tango. From the early 2000’s and far into the 2010’s Enrique Iglesias has messed with almost every genre under the Latin music umbrella. His collaborations has ranged from artists like Pitbull to Lionel Richie to Sebastian Yatra. Hits like Subeme La Radio, Hero and Bailando are all great examples of how diverse Enrique Iglesias’ discography is.
Latin music saw a small decrease in popularity around the mid 2010’s until Despacitio by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was released in 2017. After getting a small feature from Justin Bieber and a spot at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Latin music was back in. With its popularity back, Latin artists were back to releasing chart toppers. A lot of new artists appeared with this new wave and the leader of the second latin explosion was Bad Bunny also known as “El Conejo Malo” or by fans as “Benito”. Bad Bunny is one the biggest artists right now in the world. His status is proof that Spanish music is just as influential now as it was in the 1900’s. Bad Bunny comes from Puerto Rico, a place with highly ‘americano’ influences but ancestry rooted all the way back to the Spanish rule and indigenous races. Bad Bunny ignores the “American sound” for his own mix of the highly popular reggaeton. He reopens the door for latin(x) artists like Rosalia, CNCO and Mariah Angeliq. Bad Bunny’s sound is nothing like anyone else’s. He is not scared to blur gender norms, try new looks or attempt a new sound. His music ranges from insanely deep and personal to superficial and racy; it is the mix of emotions and mindset that really resonates with his fans. He is able to grasp the beats and vibes people like and makes it into something completely new. His success is evidence of how Latin music can have big effects all over the world especially in the United States (Billboard).
Venezuelan singer Danny Ocean said “music is something that transcends beyond any language or nationality.” Latin music is undeniably one of the biggest genres in the world. Generations upon generations of people are able to come together and enjoy this music no matter where they are from. The purpose of latin music is to express identity, pride and struggle. Through lyrics and beats, latinos are able to show their pride for their complicated history. Even if its beginning came from a horrible side of the Voyages of Christopher Columbus, latinos have been able to evolve it and make it what it is today.
All in all, Latin music is made to be enjoyed and bring in a new sound that is sexy, loud and fun. As time goes on, latin music will go along with it. Latin music has never stayed as it was originally presented and that is the beauty of it. The rhythms, beats and instruments will always be there; it is just the times and the artists that change. There is a great comfort in knowing that Latin music will always be influential and have a steady place in the international charts.
The perfect thing to do now is turn on the radio, listen to latin top hits and enjoy life. Spotify has amazing latin centered playlists (Latin Hit Mix, Latin Party Anthems, Pop Latino, etc.) that has all kinds of different types of genres. They will make anyone who listens want to get up and dance around. They will have people saying: “Súbeme la radio que esta es mi canción” and “Dale” (just like Enrique Iglsias and Pitbull).
Ernest Hemingway once said Spain was “the country that I loved more than any other except my own.” How could such an influential and experienced man decide that a country that is objectively behind is the best one he has ever had aside from the one he was born in? It’s a question I asked myself when preparing for this trip; am I going to fall in love with Spain?
I have never been away from home too long, at least not without my family. So going on this trip I had to prepare myself as an independent person. From the moment I stepped into the security check of Miami International Airport I knew I was starting the adventure I always dreamed of having.
In a way too short three weeks I experienced every emotion I could feel, I met new people, I cried, I learned and most importantly I lived. Spain did not teach me to be independent, I already was before getting there, it taught me that I can live. I learned that even if life threw me to the side of a mountain or left me without communication or even dropped me in the middle of an unfamiliar place, I can make it. Without this experience I would be rushing around Miami trying to please everyone I could while going to class and working; I love my life that way but I learned that sometimes I need to slow down, take a walk, learn something new and be satisfied with where I am at.
Madrid (Letras) – Comfortable Rituality
Recuerdo ese viaje en busca del amor / Vagar por las calles, olé mi viejo Madrid – Madrid Thalia
Madrid by Thalia
As a whole, Madrid feels older; more stuck in custom. Every corner you turned there was a restaurant bar with locals drinking a coffee and having tapas or an apartment building that looks just like it did when it was built. There is some modernness but to me it feels almost unfitting. Madrid is a place of routine and it does not waver from it.
El Barrio de las Letras is the best example of Madrid since it almost seems untouched by time. Sure here and there they have things that have changed and new businesses taking over old ones but it does not change the feeling of the barrio. This area is a breath of fresh air since its ritual is so deeply rooted. Letras combines the beauty of literature, simple entertainment, shopping and traditional eating and drinking. The area, mostly at night, fills with book lovers who want to relish in the almost bohemian feel of the neighborhood and spend the night enjoying a tapa with a pint in the Plaza de Santa Ana. There you can find a statue of the poet Garcia Lorca that is often praised with flowers and poetry fans surrounding it. Nearby, houses and hangouts of important figures like Lope de Vega and Cervantes are immortalized by their status. Even restaurants that have stood there for ages have been graced by non Spaniards like the strong Ernest Hemingway.
Letras stands out from the rest of the neighborhoods of Madrid. Bordering Sol and El Paseo del Prado, El Barrio de Letras is recognizable by the inscriptions of famous Spanish writers lining the streets and extending all throughout the neighborhood. This is the place even Spaniards from different parts of Spain want to go because of how special it is; nothing else in the whole country is like it.
Sevilla – Pleasurable and Unmeasurable
“Thanks be to God,” says the Admiral; “the air is soft as in April in Seville, and it is a pleasure to be in it, so fragrant it is.”
Sevilla rocked me. I did not expect to love it as much as I did but I fell for it. Something about the subtle modernity and calmness of Sevilla made me love it. Maybe it was the weather or the taxi driver who talked about how much he loved his little city or maybe it was the view from the top of a hotel roof bar but something about Sevilla struck me.
The capital of Andalucia (the part of Spain that I kept getting asked if I was from) is nothing short of beautiful. This now contemporary city was first an Iberian town which was taken over by Romans and then in 711 fell back into muslim rule until being given up to Ferdinand the III in the 1200’s. This change in cultures allowed for Sevilla to become an amazing and historic place.
Now under Catholic rule, Sevilla became the center of exploration and manipulation of the Americas. Its status as a city rose and became the center of trade with the New World. As it happens often in history, they focused on only exploiting the New World so its economy began to fail. Nonetheless, Sevilla saw greatness as its culture grew stronger and people began to become known.
Don Quixote, a popular story amongst hispanics, was written in Sevilla by Miguel de Cervantes. Even if many do not remember it or have never read it, the book still remains notable to many; just by the shadows of a slim man on a horse and a chubbier one on a donkey we know that it is Don Quixote y Sancho Panza. This book is so rooted with history that it came from the inside of a jail cell in Sevilla, Spain. Even now when people often forget the importance of Sevilla and how it was a big part of building Spain into a great country during its prime but with things like Don Quijote y “Las Meninas” (Diego Velazquez is from Sevilla) we realize how important it is; how a good part of Spain’s history and fame is rooted there.
Barcelona (La Sagrada Familia and Sant Marti) – Home Away From Home
“Gaudí’s primordial soup, Langdon thought, again startled by how perfectly the city of Barcelona dovetailed with Edmond’s curiosity about the beginnings of life.”
The place I wanted to go to the most was Barcelona. I never understood why it caught my attention so much or why I wanted to go there so badly. After being there a while I realized that it is probably the closest thing to what Miami is; to what feels like home to me. Barceloneta is just like Miami Beach and Las Ramblas is Lincoln Road and the downtown area is full of nightlife that rivals Miami’s. There are so many similarities but also a lot of differences.
La Sagrada Familia has nothing to compare to in Miami except that it is always in construction like the highways and streets in Miami but I digress. Time magazine called La Sagrada Familia “Barcelona’s unfinished masterpiece” which it is. It is Antoni Gaudi’s best work even though it is still years from being finished. Over 100 years old and surpassing its architect in life, the building is still being built and is said to be finished in 2026. Even being unfinished, it is one of the most excellent displays of catholicism. Since Gaudi was a devout catholic his building had to represent that in height and construction. Outside baroque displays of the birth of Jesus and the Passion are shown. Each figure forms an entryway preparing you for the beauty that will be the inside. Figures are perfectly sculpted and placed in their place and each thing has a reason for being there. The inside is nothing short of amazing, though simple. The ‘forest’ inside is made of columns ascending height probably only angels can reach, the islamic influence is evident through the little architectural details and stained glass windows, each side with a color scheme matching life or death, shine in a light that makes every other stained glass church jealous of it. In my 19 years of being shown what catholicism should be this is the best representation of it. There is the big and intimidating side of it but once inside there is a simplicity, a peace and a beauty to it that I only wish could be replicated in every catholic building around the world.
Sant Marti is probably the most like Miami in all of Barcelona. It is one of the most populated districts of Barcelona and has a very strong catalonian presence. Neighborhoods flow as some are more family oriented and have more of a suburban type feel while the others are more business oriented and have more seriousness to it; yet they flow perfectly having merely a tram or street dividing them. There are ten neighborhoods in total that build up Sant Marti, the biggests being Poblenou and El Clot.
Poblenou is east of the center of Barcelona and is located near the beach. It has a lot of Modernista architecture and is deep in Catalan traditionality; catalan influence is very prominent and they do not shy away from their pride. It’s own mini rambla is near the end of the neighborhood, lined with many trendy and modern restaurants and ending at a beach full of locals (differing from the Barceloneta beach which is full of tourists and vendors trying to sell you a ‘mojito’ every two minutes). Poblenou (pueblo nuevo) is full of new age things like design schools, hipster craft beer breweries, art galleries and modern looking companies.
El Clot is much more quaint and seems almost suburb like. It is littered with familiarity as families are seen walking around and people are meeting others to catch up. It sits north of the center of Barcelona and borders the Sagrada Family area. It is drastically different from Poblenou since the most it has is a shopping center and quaint businesses recognizable only to locals. Its catalan and Barcelona pride is probably more prominent and is shown more as apartment buildings are lined with FC Barcelona and Catalan flags. This is one of the least touristy sides of Barcelona as it barely has merchandise being sold or is full of barely legible tourists.
“El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho.”
Like the Hemingway quote in the very beginning says, I love Spain more than any other country I have been in aside from my own. I barely do the country justice by writing about it and I could talk about it for hours but Spain is something that needs to be experienced. There is so much beauty and experience that can only be gained by stepping foot in the building and walking the rocky roads. Spain is a country that is independently special and could not be experienced anywhere else.
On this trip I made new friends and left with a new view of the world outside of Miami. I will thank every star in the sky and God for letting me have this experience. I never would have expected to love a place (aside from Miami) as much as I loved Spain but here I am biting my own words and proving myself wrong.
My favorite poet Pablo Neruda once wrote about Spain. He called it “España en el corazón” which translates to “Spain within the heart”; a beautiful title for a touching and tribute poem.
“Bandidos con aviones y con moros,
bandidos con sortijas y duquesas,
bandidos con frailes negros bendiciendo
venían por el cielo a matar niños,
y por las calles la sangre de los niños
corría simplemente, como sangre de niños.
Chacales que el chacal rechazaría,
piedras que el cardo seco mordería escupiendo,
víboras que las víboras odiaran!
Frente a vosotros he visto la sangre
de España levantarse
para ahogaros en una sola ola
de orgullo y de cuchillos!
mirad mi casa muerta,
mirad España rota:
pero de cada casa muerta sale metal ardiendo
en vez de flores,
pero de cada hueco de España
pero de cada niño muerto sale un fusil con ojos,
pero de cada crimen nacen balas
que os hallarán un día el sitio
Parte de la poema “Espana en el Corazón” de Pablo Neruda