Adam Vignau: Miami as Text 2022

My life’s adventure is made through faith in God and the opportunities He has given me. My name is Adam Vignau and I’m a student at Florida International University’s Honors College. I’m currently majoring in International Business with future ambitions of achieving a Masters in Finance. The lessons and experience I gain through Professor Bailly’s class will be translated as best possible through this blog.

Deering as Text 2022

Common Ancestors

by Adam Vignau of FIU at the Deering Estate. 28 January 2022.

Everyday I’m amazed by the number of cars I see around me through the streets of Miami. Even in the most obscure areas and at the most random times of the day I find people driving, just as I am. It seems as though everyone has a place to be and we might never have a similar interaction again. So my question is, what unites us? Despite never knowing each other, I believe there can be some common ground.

Culture is what unites people and is built over the foundation of history. At the Deering Estate, there is a story that can be told of the geography we all know in Miami. Walking down the paths surrounding the Estate, my group saw the remains of our geographic ancestors, the Tequesta natives. This society of natives left behind beautiful artifacts and structures such as burial mounds and shell tools.

Shell tools. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

The architecture seen throughout the Estate is a reflection of what makes Miami so great. With elements from different parts of the world such as Spain and the Middle East, mixed in with local limestone to create a blend of foreign and native appreciation.

Giving thanks to the Bahamian population in Miami is extremely important since they had built much of what is preserved today at the Estate.

The Deering House. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

As Professor Bailly had mentioned on the hike throughout the trails, the Miami locals are missing unification and identity in our interactions. Being able to appreciate the history behind the place I call home was an opportunity to learn more about the physical landscape that we share. Beyond language and culture, we are driving on the same streets and enjoying the land that was built years ago.

Vizcaya as Text 2022

Outside and inside scenery of Vizcaya. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Party City

by Adam Vignau at Vizcaya. 18 February 2022.

Vizcaya is a mansion found in Miami, FL that is filled with a blend of historical and cultural components. From the architecture to the art work, there are endless details that make the estate so impressionable. Throughout the tour given by Professor Bailly, we were able to learn more about why the original owner of the estate, James Deering, chose to make Vizcaya the way it is. This plan by James formed what Miami culture is like today.

Being the James Deering was incredibly wealthy, any household or item or architectural piece was never too great. Walking into the estate you’re already greeted by a Roman arch that was used to resemble a conquest by the empire. Though James never had such plans of conquest, he simply enjoyed the way it looked. This contributed to the lifestyle we know today as many wealthy individuals of Miami seem to follow their own direction as there is not specific culture that Miami is structed by.

Replica of the arch of Constantine. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

At the back entrance of the estate you can find a statue of the Greek god of wine and pleasure, Dionysus. James Deering was very much involved in the party lifestyle like his brother Charles who owned the Deering Estate. Putting an emphasis on Vizcaya being a place to drink and have fun was at upmost importance for James. The estate in its entirety is mostly opened up to let air flow through but to also establish the concept of freedom and relaxation when visiting. This culture behind coming to Miami to party is strongly resembled in today’s Miami as there are people from all over the world that come here for the night life.

Statue of Dionysus. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

At the end our tour we looked across the gardens and all the natural beauty that is cultivated within Vizcaya. Among the grounds are hundreds of trees imported from different parts of the world as well as native plant species that have been preserved over the years. It seems as though James Deering’s love for nature was at full display and most likely enamored many of his visitors. Many of the non-native trees seen in the garden can be found in abundance across Miami especially near the Grove. I believe Miami’s natural landscape can largely be given credit to the Deering’s families efforts.

Gardens of Vizcaya. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

In the Bible it says “There’s nothing new under the sun” and in the case of Miami’s rich cultural mix and party atmosphere, it began much earlier than I thought. Vizcaya will always be a great symbol for the original Miami and the preservation of our beautiful environment.

Downtown Miami as Text

Skating in the streets of Downtown Miami. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Concrete Paradise

by Adam Vignau. 26 March 2022.

Despite not being able to go to this excursion through Miami’s Downtown landscape, I will be speaking on behalf of my experience in the downtown area with anecdotes from the lecture.

Every morning at 5:30 a.m. I would wake up to go to high school in Key Biscayne. On my way there I would pass through all of suburbia to get to the downtown area. Driving in the thick traffic early in the morning I began to wonder what made the city so attractive.

Miami River. Photo taken by Katerina Vignau / CC by 4.0

Going over the Miami River I would hear stories from my Mom about a friend of hers that would work on the yachts at the docks. He had told her that while working underwater one day, he came across a large crocodile. This was due to the Miami River being brackish (a mix of salt and fresh water). She would then warn me that even more dangerous than the reptiles was the toxicity of the water itself. “You might just come out with an extra arm” she would joke.

On my way home on Fridays I would use the metro to meet up with my best friend that went to New World School of the Arts. On our skateboards we would pass by the large court house that stood as a monument of Miami’s past. The Neo-classical architecture truly sticks out compared to the more modern buildings surrounding it.

After visiting the different parts of the Downtown area I believe there are innumerable reasons to want to visit. From the amazing restaurants to the rich architectural history, going to work or school seemed to become an adventure in itself.

SoBe as Text

“The first hotel.” Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Art Deco and all the Mixes

by Adam Vignau 4.10.22

Miami’s famous South Beach is known for it’s beautiful sandy shores and delicious food spots. But home to all the craziness is the historical architecture with Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and Mimo influences. Still standing are buildings constructed in the 1920’s. The picture above depicts one of the first hotels in South Beach which seems to model a form of western saloon-style structure.

One of the more semi-modern buildings depicted here is a good resemblance of what is found by the beach. With the Art Deco style of curved edges and cruise ship side rails, the beach is personified in this building. The colors also seem to match the environment with the bright blues and oranges.

Miami Beach Hotel. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Here is an example of more Art-Deco influences but with the use of the “Rule of Thirds.” Shown by the separation of the three even parts of the building by the long blue panels lining the wall.

Art Deco Building. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

The Art Deco “MiMo” architecture here at the Colony Hotel shows the resemblance of an ancient ziggurat. This is show by the roofline that has a geometric/pyramid structure. Buildings like these are all over South Beach as they became popular from the 1920’s to present day.

Art Deco Hotel. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Finishing our tour with Professor Bailly, we came across this random egg shaped art piece. Though it has no real use, the artwork draws attention and awe.

Random Art Structure. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

The tour we had was extremely informative of the historical influence that has lasted so many years. Previously, I had no idea of the amount of buildings still standing from so many years ago. Knowing that South Beach has kept its identity for so many years as being the Art Deco capital, it makes the environment seem more like home.

Adam Vignau: Ida España 2022

My life’s adventure is made through faith in God and the opportunities He has given me. My name is Adam Vignau and I’m a student at Florida International University’s Honors College. I’m currently majoring in International Business with future ambitions of achieving a Masters in Finance. The lessons and experience I gain through Professor Bailly’s class will be translated as best possible through this blog.

Adam Vignau

Professor Bailly

IDH 4007

24 April 2022

Colonial and Post-Colonial Spanish Civic Structure

Political Structure

            After the discovery of the Americas by Cristopher Columbus in 1492, the Spanish immediately laid a claim on the land in the large regions of modern day, north and south America. Thus began the Spanish colonization largely led by conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon. The initial motive and rationalization of Spain to conquer the Americas was to spread Christianity to the indigenous natives and to expand trade from across the Atlantic Ocean. As Spain found the “New World ” to be profitable due to its abundance in resources, more Spanish people began making voyages across the Atlantic to seek a new fortune. This was called the “Feitoria system” described as a “money making trading venture in which self-contained European communities would establish profitable trading alliances with American natives and share the profits with the Crown” (Deagan 4). Being so far away from the monarchy that had ruled the settlers made the need for new local governments in the Americas necessary as well. Establishing new levels of authority affected populations in the Americas for years to come. 

Spain brought to the Americas a very strong authoritarian government which was extremely different from the civic structure that had previously been established amongst the indigenous peoples. The “supreme executive” (Barnes 55) was the viceroy who was appointed by the Spanish crown to be the substitute monarchy in the New World. The only checks and balances the viceroy had was from the Crown itself and the “virrenai audiencia, primarily a judicial body,” who could pressure him for change (55). Then spread across the different regions were “adelantados” (Deagan 4) which were typically military leaders that expanded into new areas and would have to follow the rule of the primary viceroy. The Spanish system of government was very different for the natives as they were used to a federalistic government where the governed body had more of a say in decision making. Specifically, the women in the native tribes were able to be involved in decision making which was very different from Spanish culture. David Sahr in “Native American Governments in Today’s Curriculum” mentions that the Native American Governments formed policy “based on the good of the nation as a whole in preference of individual rights” (Sahr 1). The Spanish monarchy was typically focused on their own preferences above everyone else which was completely different from the chieftains in the native tribes.

The regional governments established by the Spanish have a lasting impact on modern political structure today. As seen by today’s representative democracy in the United States that splits up the government between federal and local governments. With an organized rule over the Americas, the Spanish were able to control large sections of land due to information not having to relay through a large hierarchy to make judgments. We can see similar reflections of this strategy through the decisions local governments have currently been making regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. Certain mandates such as the requirement to wear a mask in public have been laid responsible to the state governments, especially the governor. These modern-day governors can be compared to colonial “adelantados” for their powerful judgment over their people. 

Encomienda System/ Social Structure

Establishing a social structure that benefited the Spanish, more specifically the white males, was a standard that was held for years after colonialism in the Americas. Being that the main two reasons for colonization were to create converts to Christianity and exploit the land for its resources, quick control over certain groups was necessary for the demand in results from the Spanish crown. The encomienda system was created to facilitate their desires by forcing natives to convert to Catholicism through “econmenderos” (Yeager 844). Encomenderos were the conquistadors that were “required to instruct the natives in the faith and enforce attendance at Mass on Sundays” (844). This is alarming since religion is being forced upon them when many tribes had already established their own religious practices. Through this system we can see lasting effects in countries such as Mexico who worship the Lady of Guadelupe, Jesus’ mother as believed in Catholicism. The Spanish were able to successfully share their religion through force, but the Mexicans were able to make it their own through a Mexican Mother Mary.

In many homes today, when someone is born into a religious household it is typically expected by their parents for their children to believe in whatever god they worship. The “econmiendas” or the natives that were made to follow Catholicism experienced similar pressures from the Spanish. In Catholicism, it seems as though there are still many governing bodies from the bishops to the Pope. I personally, believe more to the Protestant point of view that religion is more of a personal relationship between God and yourself. After all these years, religion supposedly gives authority to certain individuals as seen by the Spanish Crown and the modern-day Pope. This would be fine if the authorities were perfect human beings. The Spaniards wanted absolute rule without question from their subordinates in the Americas. By making all the natives Catholic by forced practice, no other higher power could be used to question their authority. Today, the Pope (Francis)  is an active participant in policy. Francis has the authority, according to the Catholic Church, to translate God’s will over to the world. This has brought much controversy through certain topics such as LGBTG rights. From a post-colonial perspective I see this as a great issue since without personal judgment of morality or of the Bible, many people can be taken advantage of. 

The Encomienda System was the foundation for exploiting the natives fiscally by taxing their resources heavily. By offering the natives protection from the Spanish military, they required the natives to be taxed and converted to Catholicism. The reason the Crown preferred the econmienda was because “the property rights granted to encomenderos reduced the threats to its security” (Yeager 846). Though the Spanish could have used African slaves, they preferred the security and ultimately did not like slavery as a practice or ideology. Despite the Crown’s sentiments, in the Americas, slavery was practiced extensively due to its profitable nature. Slavery in the Americas was not abolished until the 1800’s, this dependency on slavery was strongly influenced by the early colonizers from Spain. Many of the modern day issues regarding systemic and societal racism can be seen stemming from colonialism. The african slaves brought to the Americas were immediately put in the lowest social caste which led to  racial abuse for generations. 

Post-Colonial Feminism

In Sandra Cisneros’ “Never Marry A Mexican” she presents ideas regarding feminism amongst Latin women that affect modern culture. The passage is narrated by a Chicana woman named Clemencia who deals with the pressures of her mother and the historic definition of success and class. I will be using post-colonial feminist theory to analyze Clemencia, as she struggles with her internal and external conflicts of escaping her cultural norms and obtaining power over white men through seduction and sex. This is shown by Clemencia’s way of gaining status through sexual relations with a white man, her relation to La Malinche and the effects of new feminist ideas imparting themselves into modern society through the mix of race.

Upward mobility of the Latin woman during the modern era is extremely difficult as society has automatically placed the Latin American woman at a disadvantage. This is due to the colonial adaptation of the principle that women can receive status through the participating in sexual relations with a white man. Clemencia is told at an early age to “Never marry a Mexican ” (Cisneros 1) from her mother due to the fact that her father was also Mexican but was born in Mexico rather than the U.S, making him inherently a lower class. The difference between someone born in a white-dominant place and someone who is not is that those who are, are automatically given an advantage and are thought of as more superior. Clemencia translates this same mentality in her adult life as she says “Mexican men, forget it…Not men I considered potential lovers” (Cisneros 2). Instead, Clemencia uses her sexuality to potentially reach upward mobility in society by sleeping with a white man named Drew. Maythee Rojas in her discourse “Cisneros’s ‘Terrible’ Women,” states that Clemencia’s “social deviance points to the particularly precarious state of sexual and cultural subordination” (Rojas 3). Describing that Clemencia deviates from a submissive feminine role that is expected from her society, to one that is typically masculine. She does this by using sex as her power over Drew saying that he is “almost not a man without your [Drew] clothes.” (Cisneros 11). Though this gives Clemencia a level of power over Drew, as a white man he still maintains the top of the social hierarchy through the caste system established during colonization. Clemencia’s ability to switch the gender roles is familiar with the feminist symbol that is La Malinche.

Clemencia’s relation to La Malinche through her use of sexuality depicts the effects of post-colonialism on the female perspective of power in Latin American culture. In “Never Marry A Mexican,” Clemencia is referred to as “My Malinalli, Malinche, my courtesan” (Cisneros 7) by Drew as he makes love to her. This is not only due to her color but the intercourse between them. La Malinche is described by Dian Suntanto in the “Feminist Refiguring of La Malinche in Sandra Cisneros’ Never Marry A Mexican,” to be the symbol of the “rape of the indigenous people” (Suntanto 1) and ultimately the downfall of the Aztecs. This is due to La Malinche’s relationship with European conquistador Hernan Cortes, who she aided in translating and learning about the Aztec Empire. Though Suntanto makes the argument that modern feminist’s view La Malinche’s actions as a form of “survival” (Suntanto 2) similar to Clemencia because of her ability to “exert her sexual agency.” Cisneros purposefully compared Clemencia to La Malinche to develop the idea of power through sex. This is shown as both La Malinche and Clemencia are translators and Drew’s description of Clemencia as “Mi Doradita” or “my little golden girl”. Anna McClintock in “Imperial Leather” makes a similar argument towards the modern way of viewing feminism as she mentions that colonized women were actually “disadvantaged within their societies” (McClintock 6) before Imperial rule. This is because the societies pre-colonization had already made a hierarchical system where the women would simply be the ones to raise children and work at home, while men had positions of power within society. In Aztec culture, men were even given the right to eat before women, which further established a patriarchy. With the introduction of colonization, native women had the opportunity to hold a level of power through the encomienda system by marrying a European man and creating a mestizo family. La Malinche as a feminist symbol has directly affected modern post-colonialism shown by the parallelism between La Malinche and Clemencia. These ideas correlate to other modern feminism movements being made.

Colonization has affected modern gender roles to an extent where boundaries have begun to blend and produce questions regarding the correct placement of masculine and feminine practices. Silvia Torres in “La conciencia de La Mestiza” writes that there is a “nepantla” or a “place in the middle” (Torres 1) where the border between cultures meets. In Mexican American culture it is the Chicana and Mestizos that display the mix in societies. In effect, Clemencia in “Never Marry A Mexican” adopts typical masculine traits of establishing dominance in bed. Clemencia speaks of Drew as a “slender boy of a man” (Cisneros 11) which is not typical in such a patriarchal society. Such odd ways of obtaining power over the white man are born from the untraditional ways of the Chicana. Clemencia’s mother also had her own part in an affair with a white man and eventually married him after the death of Clemencia’s father. Blaming her marriage to a Mexican man to be an act of ignorance as she “never had a chance to be young” (Cisneros 6). The Mexican woman finds the need to be with a white man in order to reach value in love and power. This is because European men were the “most direct agents of empire” (McClintock), and women were drawn to the idea of being part of something larger than their own lives as natives. So, the narrative continues through post-colonialism that the Latin woman will be happier within the safety of a white masculine figure. This is an issue found in class theory and critical race theory, though as these binaries come together through a mestizo class or a mix of culture, a “nepantla” is formed that serves as a shift of cultural norms. Such as in Clemencia’s case, as a Chicana she is self-empowered by believing she is above the Mexican man and uses her sexuality to bridge the gap with the white patriarchal binary. Unfortunately, by using sexuality as the only modality in which Latin women can experience a switch in gender roles, other aspects of the relationship suffer for the women. This situation is expressed as Clemencia mentions how “with you [Drew] I’m useless with words” (Cisneros 11), making a real relationship between them extremely difficult. But as Clemencia sleeps with Drew he becomes “naked” and the binary flips. Similarly, La Malinche gained status by using her sexuality with Hernan Cortes though she was still put within the limited constraint of her role as a woman. Due to the colonial mix of races, new feminism arose and modern feminist’s are able to grow past the need for sexual boundaries and vocalize their demand for gender equality.

The modern form of displaying feminism in such a patriarchal society is shown to be found in a woman’s sexuality based on Clemencia and Drew’s relationship in “Never Marry A Mexican.” This is exhibited by the effects of colonialism between European and Latin groups that produce a grey area between gender roles. Making sexuality a form of upward mobility in society’s hierarchy. The “nepantla” can be sourced as one of the major symbols in modern feminism, La Malinche. Though when thinking about the current issues in gender roles the question must be made whether using sexuality as a form of gaining authority is the ethical way of doing so? Understandably, there are many unethical practices from masculine counterparts, but imposing one’s body sexually during a power struggle is not a better solution. As a feminist, I believe that women should speak up for themselves and what they are comfortable with at home and in society. Women make up a very large percentage of the population and must be heard since they are society as well. 

Works Cited

Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York :Vintage Books, 1992.

Dian, Natalia Sutanto. “Feminist Refiguring of La Malinche in Sandra Cisneros’ Never Marry A Mexican.” LLT Journal: A Journal on Language and Language Teaching.1 (2016): 19. Web.

McClintock, Anne. Imperial Leather. [Electronic Resource] : Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. Routledge, 1995. Web.

Torres, Sonia. La Conciencia De La Mestiza /Towards a New Consciousness: Uma Conversação Inter-Americana Com Gloria Anzaldúa / La Conciencia De La Mestiza/Towards a New Consciousness: An Inter-American Conversation with Gloria Anzaldúa. 13 Vol. Centro de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas e Centro de Comunicação e Expressão da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, 2005. Web.

Rojas, Maythee G. Cisneros’s ‘Terrible’ Women: Recuperating the Erotic as a Feminist Source in ‘Never Marry a Mexican’ and ‘Eyes of Zapata’. 20 Vol. Washington State University Press, 1999. Web.

Deagan, Kathleen. “Colonial Origins and Colonial Transformations in Spanish America.” Historical Archaeology, vol. 37, no. 4, 2003, pp. 3–13, Accessed 22 Apr. 2022.

Barnes, Thomas C., et al. “THE STRUCTURE OF COLONIAL GOVERNMENT.” Northern New Spain: A Research Guide, University of Arizona Press, 1981, pp. 55–60, Accessed 22 Apr. 2022.

Yeager, Timothy J. “Encomienda or Slavery? The Spanish Crown’s Choice of Labor Organization in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America.” The Journal of Economic History, vol. 55, no. 4, 1995, pp. 842–59, Accessed 24 Apr. 2022.

Buie, Alex. Educator, Published by, et al. “Spanish Empire’s Huge Impact on the World.” Exploring the UK, Europe and Russia, 21 July 2015,

Sahr, David. “Native American Governments in Today’s Curriculum.” Native American Governments in Today’s Curriculum, 1991, 

Adam Vignau: España as Text 2022

Picture of me in France. Photos taken by Isabella Garcia /CC by 4.0

My life’s adventure is made through faith in God and the opportunities He has given me. My name is Adam Vignau and I’m a student at Florida International University’s Honors College. I’m currently majoring in International Business with future ambitions of achieving a Masters in Finance. The lessons and experience I gain through Professor Bailly’s class will be translated as best possible through this blog.

Madrid As Text 2022

Pictures of Madrid. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Spanish Bookworms

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Madrid, Spain. 13 June 2022.

The first impressions of Madrid is the detail in every building and magnitude across the whole region. With a heat that cooks you slowly and a love from every small restaurant you enter. The “Tapas” are the snacks you get as you share a drink with friends. History is displayed in all directions in the many churches and political buildings sprinkled across the city. In addition to the impressions Madrid has shown me, I’ve noticed a strong love for knowledge through reading in particular. 

During the first lecture of the week in Madrid, we passed by a row of book vendors on the street. The selection of books they had was enormous from classics like “Don Quixote” to modern non-fiction literary studies. Locals of all ages were browsing through these stalls and were bargaining to get a copy of a new book. This popular love of literature is something I have not seen in Miami personally. The closest my peers and I have come to buying a book is on an Amazon kindle.

There are bookstores in Madrid that are close to ancient and still have people keeping them in business. Whereas in Miami bookstores are few and far between. Being raised in the US I was taught very strong ethnocentric beliefs. Madrid has shown me that certain elements of “progression” have brought our society in the States further away from being critical thinkers. 

Pictures of book stall. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

With on demand learning from social media and other forms of entertainment reading books seems to become outdated. But with any solution I believe there to be many conflicts. When walking through the streets of Madrid there were very few obese people compared to the US. Similarly, without the interest of slowly gaining knowledge by reading there is significantly less comprehension long term.

If I could bring back something from Madrid to Miami it would be the love for reading. 

Toledo As Text 2022

Pictures of Toledo. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Religion and Community

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Madrid, Spain. 15 June 2022.

Catholicism seems to be the focal point of Toledo as there are numerous churches in such a small city. While in Miami, it seems to be of the opposite extreme where secular culture is dominant. Every wall within the Cathedral of Toledo is extremely ornate and impressive in size. Over the years the cathedral has slowly been contributed by several religious leaders of the church. The church has continued to be given life.

Shown is an addition to the church where the ceiling was opened to add light. There were many critics when it was being done but modern architecture had been advanced because the architect proved them wrong.

Pictures of the Cathedral de Toledo. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Despite the progression of architecture and technology the Catholic culture in Toledo hasn’t changed much in the past centuries. Everyone seems to be involved with the church and its holidays throughout the year. While I was there, there was a holiday called Corpus Christi. The whole city was in preparation many days in advance as the streets were filled with people hanging decorations. This tradition of celebration has gone on for centuries and hasn’t lost popularity whatsoever.

Pictures of Corpus Christi Preparation. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Being a Christian in Miami, I was always involved in the church my whole life. Seeing such love for the church is not very common in Miami these days. Holidays like Christmas and Easter have lost their significance for many Christians. I believe the difference between Toledo and Miami is that the local government is largely dominated by Catholics and the celebrations done by the church aren’t fought by the locals. Instead, religion is what brings them together. 

I don’t think religion should be forced upon anyone like in the inquisition but rather a beautiful way to make a community. When we were walking throughout Toledo, our tour guide recognized many people because of how tight the community is. When I walk through Miami I find it very hard to make genuine connections. I believe happiness is best shared and religion may be a great way to achieve that as seen in Toledo.

Cordoba As Text 2022

Pictures of Cordoba. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Hidden Treasure

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Cordoba, Spain. 18 June 2022.

In aesthetics the beauty lies within the simplicity. In Cordoba the city doesn’t reveal itself from the outside. As you walk through the streets the whitewashed walls prove that the deeper meaning and even God is not formed from the ornate. 

Most of the cities that we have visited throughout Spain were full of impressive feats of architecture to represent the greatness and closeness of God to the people. But in Cordoba the architecture was completely different. With the Muslim influences in the houses, no one wanted to show an outward abundance of wealth since it was against their religion. I thought this was extremely refreshing since I felt as though it made the neighborhoods more peaceful. 

When we arrived at the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, the beautiful arches expanded the mosque to make it seem eternal. The Islamic influences were very simplistic until we started heading deeper into the Mosque.

Pictures of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba Arches. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Standing out like a sore thumb was the Catholic Cathedral overtaking that the Mosque had to bear. In the middle stood giant sculptures of the Pope and different Catholic Saints. Personally, I felt as though it was overbearing and took away from God and focused on man. There are lots of great Catholics but seeing the influence the effects the historic Roman Catholic church had on the Muslim and Jewish people has put me off to their form of religion. It seems like religion had become politicized as shown by the architecture within the Churches.

Today, I’m glad that the government in the US can appreciate all religions and not destroy such beautiful culture. Though, the political parties seem to be very radical on both sides which has led to people of different religions and beliefs to become very segregated. Cordoba has shown that a mix of different cultures has created some of the most beautiful works of art. Through this study abroad experience I’ve had the pleasure to learn so much from my Muslim classmates that know a lot more about middle eastern culture than I. Learning from one another instead of having a superiority complex has been one of the greatest lessons from the magnificent Cordoba. 

Sevilla As Text 2022

Pictures of Sevilla. Photos taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Old Money

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Sevilla, Spain. 19 June 2022.

In Sevilla the social environment is extremely peaceful. You can walk long into the night and see others doing the same. Even the small shady alleys didn’t seem as scary as when my group was in Madrid. At the center of everything was the Cathedral of Sevilla with its beautiful gothic architecture. But when seeing such wealth and diversity as shown in the architecture it’s hard to see the same Sevilla from back in the 14-15th centuries.

Beautiful structures such as the Giralda reflect the cultural diversity in Spain as there are mixes of Moorish and Catholic architecture blended. Before the inquisition in 1492, most of the great monuments of Sevilla were founded by this mixing pot of religions and artists. Today, the success of the city seems to surround itself with the works of the past. Tourism is most likely the largest part of the economy in Sevilla.

Back in the 14th century when Spain was exploiting the resources found in the Americas, Sevilla was the main port for all goods. This led to a large influx of wealth since Sevilla was able to control and tax imports. This situation gave Sevilla a significant amount of power that it has lost over time. The channel that used to carry large ships full of cargo is now empty and used for city tours.

Picture of El Torre de Orro. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

I don’t think there is anything wrong with Sevilla’s use of tourism to boost their economy but I would love to see a revitalization of culture and wealth through other means. I noticed a large population of the tourists in Sevilla are older. If there were possibly new attractions for younger generations maybe Sevilla can see some new life that has been gone for centuries.

Picture of Sevilla at Night. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Sitges As Text 2022

Pictures inside Charles Deering’s House. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

Home Abroad

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Sitges, Spain (Catalonia). 26 June 2022.

While in Sitges my class and I had the opportunity to visit Charles Deering’s old house. This experience felt as though one of the first times that we interacted with the people from Spain, and they were the ones to make the initiative towards a more intimate connection.

Throughout the compound of buildings that made up the Deering house, there were beautiful works of art from world renowned artists such as El Greco and Picasso. It seemed as though you could walk right past them and not even notice their significance. This made the experience less intense and more like I was walking through an ordinary home. At my Abuela’s house, there are pictures and art works covering the walls that seem to give the house life and comfort. This same element is what I really enjoyed about the Deering house. Even though the house was magnificent in detail, I didn’t feel as though I couldn’t live in it myself.

Picture of Picasso paintings amongst others. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

To end our tour the guide brought us into a separate room so that we could share a rare collection of wine that they made there in Sitges. This was one of my favorite memories in Spain since I felt truly welcomed. I believe my classmates felt the same as we were all in a great mood and laughed the whole time.

Picture of my friends and I drinking the wine. Photo taken by Franco Fuertes /CC by 4.0

Leaving the house, we planned on going to the beach and on the way, we were greeted by a street performer playing the saxophone. This put me in a euphoric mindset as it seemed almost out of a movie to be able to live such a carefree lifestyle and enjoy the more native culture in Sitges. I now understand why Charles Deering chose to build his house there since the water was absolutely gorgeous and the people were just as nice.

If I have the opportunity to come back to Spain, I will go immediately to Sitges for its beauty and intimacy.

Barcelona As Text 2022

Pictures of the city of Barcelona. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

A Celebration of Life and Nature

by Adam Vignau of FIU in Barcelona, Catalonia. 27 June 2022.

Barcelona seemed to me as the city in Spain with the closest ties to nature. Everything from the architecture to the environment was a breath of fresh air. This motif gave Barcelona, in my belief, an edge over other cities and towns across Spain. Proven by the large number of tourists that go to see the Sagrada Familia or the beautiful beaches.

By far my favorite Cathedral I saw during my time in Spain was la Sagrada Familia. This beautiful church designed by architect Antoni Gaudi is a masterpiece in short. The use of Modernism to incorporate God’s creation and art created by man really brings heaven to earth. In the other Cathedrals that we visited it seemed as though they were all very dark and ornate. This church instead was very open and colorful with fluorescent stain glass pouring color from every angle. As professor Bailly had mentioned, you really can’t notice if you are inside or outside within the church. This church made me the most emotional since I could really see God in the beauty that is in His creation of our soul and the environment.

Picture inside La Sagrada Familia. Photo’s taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

While on my day off from class in Barcelona, my group and I visited the aquarium in Barceloneta. There was so much diversity in aquatic species. We were able to see huge gar, penguins and beautiful little jellyfish to name a few. The aquarium was a large attraction for many visitors as it was a place that was clearly well made and had something for all ages. It was right by the beach which made it fit right into the personality Barcelona held. 

One of the great monuments towards nature was the Palau de la Musica Catalana. A great concert hall that was designed using Modernisme architecture by Lluis Domenech. This place was awe inspiring with its use of stained glass and plaster to create representations of animals and plants.

Picture inside Palau de la Musica Catalana. Photo taken by Adam Vignau /CC by 4.0

When I was in Madrid it seemed as though I was in a desert city. It was beautiful but it didn’t seem to draw its life from nature but rather from the buildings and the people. This revelation almost made the city seem far away from God in a way. In a sense it was as though the people were honoring their own creation and living within it. This made the streets and buildings seem aged and almost dirty. In comparison, Barcelona had elements of the old but also life with the new, as popular hotspots all by the shoreline. At night you can see hundreds of people gathered by the beach socializing. This was relaxing since nobody was forced to be packed into a small building to have fun. Nature truly gave Barcelona its pathway to success in the modern age.

Adam Vignau: Vuelta España 2022

Picture of me in France. Photos taken by Isabella Garcia /CC by 4.0

My life’s adventure is made through faith in God and the opportunities He has given me. My name is Adam Vignau and I’m a student at Florida International University’s Honors College. I’m currently majoring in International Business with future ambitions of achieving a Masters in Finance. The lessons and experience I gain through Professor Bailly’s class will be translated as best possible through this blog.

Adam Vignau

Professor Bailly

IDH 4007

16 July 2022

Mi Aventura

In Spain I was able to experience great works of art and architecture with rich cultural backgrounds. The history spoken to us gave the cities life and new meaning as we learned about subjects such as religion and colonialism. But I did not just learn from the classes but rather from my classmates that were from all different kinds of countries and cultures. Through each place and person, I was able to learn about others and myself.

El Palacio Real and eating with friends. Photos taken by Adam Vignau and Isabella Garcia/CC by 4.0

Madrid was a dry metropolitan city with its artifacts looming all around you with tremendous detail. Every building seemed to be a masterpiece, either from the carefully carved concrete or the beautiful metal railings. When walking with Professor Bailly, I could imagine the event he described. Such as the large town squares that held the executions and trials of the inquisition. I did not understand how power and greed could have led the Catholic rulers to execute innocent Muslims and Jews. Especially when many of the early fortifications and architecture had been done by the Moors, a Muslim population in early Spain. Impressive structures such as El Palacio Real blew my mind at the size and decoration of its being. The number of rooms when walking through the palace seemed to never end, each one more impressive than the last. I could tell that the royals back then were fans of gold leaf and elaborate murals on the roofs of every room. The palace was initially constructed by the Moors in the 800s but renovated throughout many years to suit the royal families in Catholic Spain for many generations. I realize that Spain was a world power long ago, but it seems like most of its influence and wealth came from taking resources from other countries and people. Though despite all the horrors that came with colonialism some of the Spanish dishes and cultural tradition would not be the same without foreign influences. On the first day my class toured through Madrid we had dinner at a bar that served great beer and tapas, which are almost like small appetizers that accompany a drink. One of the classic tapas that we tried were the patatas bravas, which are potatoes covered in a bit of a spicy sauce. They were delicious and were enough to satisfy a large group of us. Though I believe it is important to recognize that potatoes themselves are not from Spain originally, but rather from South America. This traditional dish would not have been invented if it wasn’t for the Atlantic trade and “discovery” of the Americas in 1492.

Pictures in Chueca. Photos taken by Adam Vignau/CC by 4.0

One of the days we had off, my small group and I visited one of Madrid’s famous neighborhoods named Chueca. Best known for their social progressiveness, many people in Chueca have a strong pride towards LGBTQ and acceptance. Walking down the streets, there were countless apartments that have hung up a rainbow flag. Many of the stores in the neighborhood have some sort of correlation towards gay pride either by color or by a popular slogan that says, “together as ourselves.” I was surprised by how open the neighborhood was towards sexuality since in the United States there aren’t many neighborhoods that have made themselves purely a symbol of progression. Besides gender, sex in it of itself was publicized everywhere in Chueca. At the metro station the first advertisement had a man in his underwear, promoting a gay club. Being raised in a very conservative home, this seemed to be a culture shock for me as sex was seen as taboo. Sex shops and gay strip clubs lined up across the streets we visited, surprisingly everyone walked by casually. Close by there were also beautiful flower shops and clothing stores which seemed almost like a paradox in my mind. I learned to appreciate the art that Chueca was full of. 

 During my time in Madrid was when I began to learn more about my classmates, especially those that I hadn’t talked to all Spring semester. I learned that there was an enormous amount of cultural diversity in the group. We had people from Pakistan, Germany, Cuba, Dominican Republic etc. one of my favorite ways to connect with them was asking about their backgrounds. Being from a Hispanic and Germanic family that practices Christianity I quickly found that my classmates believed and held many traditions different from my own. On our last night in Madrid, a large group of my classmates and I went to a Pakistani restaurant that was recommended by one of my classmates that was from Pakistan. It was one of my most memorable experiences during the trip since I was able to bond over the amazing food and experiences from the past couple days. We even briefly talked about religion, which is typically a controversial subject, but even with a difference of beliefs we were able to learn from one another and get along just as well. 

Pictures in Segovia including the Roman aqueduct and Catholic Cathedral . Photos taken by Adam Vignau and John Bailly/CC by 4.0

When visiting Segovia it seemed as though we were in a fairytale-esque region. One of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals, “El Catedral de Segovia” was there as it stood in one of the most central town squares. When inside I felt almost insignificant compared to the enormity and detail in decoration that surrounded me. I could not fathom how hard it must have been to create such perfectly designed and constructed buildings without modern machinery and 3D mapping. As a Christian, it was beautiful to see how much work people have put into honor God. This church seemed to be a relic of a different society that was unified by religion. Today, it seems as though there are large separations in the population between conservative and liberal radical denominations. Some of the middle ground we can find is in the appreciation of nature and art which I believe was captured by certain artists such as Picasso and Gaudi. 

Similar to Segovia, when we visited Toledo, it was a city full of churches and people that fully emerged themselves in their religion. When we arrived in the city it was a day before the Corpus Christi festival so there were hundreds of people setting up and preparing for such a large event. Seeing the preparation was special since it showed how much work and dedication the whole city was willing to participate in to celebrate their old tradition. Even the young students would go to the church to place flowers in front to give their token to the event. In Miami, I only see such events happen at a very local level where certain private schools will create ties with the church. It would be great to see more people come together to celebrate certain religious holidays like in Toledo. 

At Escorial I experienced one of the most strenuous and beautiful hikes I have ever done. As we hiked to the top of one of the great mountains the view was stunning. We were able to sit at the seat of Felipe II that overlooked Escorial. It was a clear view of the city and El Escorial, a large building that was created to protect the Catholic religion. El Escorial functioned as a monastery, palace, and library to name a few. The project was largely funded by the colonialist exploitation of the resources in the Americas. Though the building is still used today, it is sad to see that so many precious materials and innocent lives went into a building that did not become as much of a Catholic mecca as it was intended to be. One of the largest mistakes with the Spanish rule in my opinion was the misallocation of funds from colonialism. Instead of using the large influx of wealth to boost the local economy and expand its influence into other countries, Spanish rulers used the wealth to create impressive monuments and palaces to validate their rule. I can appreciate the architecture in some of Spain’s monuments but from a religious perspective, Jesus never lived a life of luxury, so I do not see the need. Though the love for nature and the landscape of mountains surrounding Escorial had a spiritual touch on my heart. Being at the peak of the mountain was empowering but also humbling as it showed just how great God is. 

When we visited Cordoba I experienced one of the strangest mixes of religion I had ever seen. At the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, there is a Catholic church that has been built within an old mosque. Surprisingly, many of the Muslim art pieces and architecture remain within the church. Though, right in the middle is a large section full of Catholic saints and a place for the priest to teach. The artwork done in the mosque was intricate yet calming as it used many earth-tone colors. The tilework was also extremely intricate and beautiful as each piece of tile was done by hand and was geometrically calculated. The catholic part of the church was much more intense as the artwork did not blend in with the architecture, but rather pronounced itself. There was woodwork done in the pews and at the pulpit that was breathtaking. It was explained that the mahogany wood was taken from the Americas to make these structures. Some of my Muslim classmates had asked me how I felt about the church-mosque after stating that they felt offended by it. I truthfully felt uncomfortable about it as well, as it seemed as though the Catholic church had been prideful of their conquest back then. It was said by one of our guides that the Jews and Muslims had to hide their religion as they were persecuted by the Catholic church. In the Bible it speaks of Christians being persecuted for believing in Jesus, I couldn’t understand how Christians could do the same many years later. This city was truly an eye-opener to the religious power struggles of the 14th and 15th centuries.

Sevilla was an amazing display of Spain’s history of global influence. Visiting El Catedral de Sevilla, we were able to get a tour of the huge church that seemed to stand in the middle of everything. The cathedral’s architecture is mostly gothic, characterized by the intricate pyramid towers and ghoul statues. Being that it is the third biggest church in the world, I was once again amazed how such a large structure could have been built in the 1500s. Sevilla was once a major part of the global economy since its port had all the ships from the Americas and other countries come through it. Today, the city seems to be largely a tourist attraction where people can enjoy its beautiful parks, architecture, and live performances. Late into the night my friends and I were able to walk through the streets of Sevilla amongst other locals and tourists. The city was peaceful and a great place to visit for people of all ages.

When my group visited the Alhambra in Granada I experienced one of the most amazing Muslim buildings from the trip. The many rooms had intricate tile work that covered the walls completely. Many were symbolic to the different principles of the Koran such as the seven levels of heaven. One of my classmates that knew Arabic was able to teach me how to read some of the tile work, something I never thought I’d have the chance to learn. The religion was extremely interesting to learn about since I did not know much about it before the trip. The guide and my classmates were extremely insightful and open to explaining their way of life. Though many times the Christian and the Muslim religion clash, I believe we can appreciate the sacrifice and the beauty in one another’s religion. My Muslim friends and I were able to hold a mutual respect as we wanted to learn more about what we believed in, I couldn’t have been more grateful to them.

Barcelona was my favorite city out of all the others due to its communion with nature. Artists such as Gaudi took a strong influence in the city as shown by one of the great churches, La Sagrada Familia. The church was a tall structure full of color and natural design. Outside, there were numerous sculptures of animals and religious figures along the wall. Inside, there were tree-like pillars that held up the church with large stained-glass windows that brought the color of the outside world within the walls. This church felt alive which was not like any of the other gothic churches I had seen throughout the trip. I could imagine the choir stands filled and singing in unison praising God. The church made me emotional in appreciation of His creation. Barcelona held the same life day and night as the beach was full of people during “Sant Joan Night,” a festival full of fireworks and celebration. I believe I enjoyed Barcelona because it reminded me of Miami. If I ever wanted to escape life in the city, I could enjoy the peaceful beaches and aquarium in Barceloneta. 

I could not have asked for a better learning and class experience than what I experienced on my trip to Spain. Every day was an adventure and the people that have become my close friends pushed me to never stop trying new things. Learning about architecture and art styles that I can identify all over Miami has proven that ideas can be shared. Much of the creative process comes not from your own imagination but rather what you take from others. I’ve been able to redefine my perception of religions and culture which has only led to a greater curiosity. I’m blessed to be able to go and share what I have learned.

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