Espana Spring 2020 As Texts Thomas Connell

Photo by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0

Thomas Connell

Thomas Connell is a sophomore in the Honors College who is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is always passionate about travel and experiencing other cultures and lifestyles. The Espana trip is an excellent opportunity to experience and observe the Spanish cultures and to view its cultural impacts on South Florida.

Vizcaya as Text

Photo taken by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0

I visited Vizcaya for the first time ever and I was blown away by its beauty and culture. From the entrance gate to the gardens, I was entranced by what Vizcaya had to offer. Upon entering the gates it was like taking a step back in time where you went from the many buildings in Miami to a whole different world. It was wonderous to see the difference between Vizcaya and the surrounding area.

When on the premises you are greeted by a statue of Juan Ponce de Leon, and fountains that lead to the house. The fountains contain Spanish and Islamic influence and it gives you a taste of the culture mix that Vizcaya is. The is elaborate with a central courtyard and beautiful art and d├ęcor that is mesmerizing each step you take through the house.

What particularly caught my attention is the gardens next to the house. I found the shrubbery aesthetically pleasing and loved the French inspired symmetric layout of the gardens. I spent hours in the garden wandering from each area to view its design and its vibrancy. Vizcaya truly captures the mix of cultures that Miami is known for and it would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful home known as Vizcaya.

Photo Taken by Thomas Connell CC by 4.0
An example of the symmetry and beauty of the Vizcaya Gardens

Deering Estate as text

Deering Estate is a beautiful and expansive property in Biscayne Bay with so much beauty in it’s natural habitats on the Estate. In particular, I thought the wildlife and oceanic scenery were especially beautiful, specifically the Boat Basin and Chicken key.

The boat basin is incredibly beautiful and makes you want to just dive in the water, but that is off limits otherwise you might scare the manatees and other wildlife in the basin. I was without words when I first saw the basin. I was just simply astonished at how beautiful it is. The picture just makes me anxious to visit the Estate to see it in person because just one picture can not do the Estate justice. The Basin is a must see site for the possibility of seeing wildlife and how picturesque it is.

Chicken key is about mile off shore and the island itself is immaculate as it is a composition of deposits of sand and other materials brought from the ocean currents which is incredibly unique in how this island is made. I find it crazy how beautiful it is which can be seen in the picture and I find it even wilder that the ocean created this island.

The nature tour offered by the Estate is an enticing activity and one that will let you explore the beautiful nature the Deering Estate offers and get to explore Florida’s indigenous plants and animals. The tour will take you to see Miami Rock Ridge, Avocado Grove, Tequesta Midden and more beautiful and historic locations. It should be noted that you are required to have a staff member accompany you for the tour and to visit certain locations on the Estate.

South Beach as Text

When reading the walking tour of South beach I was intrigued by the Jewish History museum and the Jewish connection to South Beach and Miami but was fascinated with the information about the History and founding of Miami and South Beach.

It’s hard to imagine that South Beach was a small community or village where everyone knew each other and were friends regardless of race. That is crazy to me because of the time period in which South Beach was founded and the immense size and density of South Beach. I can’t even name 5 people who live in south beach now. It is eye opening on how our amazing vacation spot used to be swamp and mangroves with mosquitoes everywhere.

Though its destruction to the habitat is horrible and the modernization of the Miami beach led to discrimination and mistreatment of other races. I believe that the vision and successful transformation that Carl Fisher had is incredible. Looking at South Beach now, no one would really think that less than a hundred years ago this was a swampland. We only see it for its beautiful appearance and its perfect beaches. Yet Fisher envisioned what we now see as South Beach and Miami Beach.

I believe that the South Beach we once had should be restored, at least partially for its environmental value and for Historical value because the original mangroves were crucial for developing wildlife to survive and grow and were significant in protecting the coastline. Historically, they should be restored due to its value and respect to those who lived in South Beach before Fisher tore it apart.

HistoryMiami as Text

When touring HistoryMiami virtual tour, I found it was extremely informative and showed me more about Miami than I had learned in history books at school. The styling of the museum was smart and made the transition between displays seamlessly. I find the art works that attempt to show what Native American settlements thought provoking because it left me wondering how accurate is the art work in its representation of the precolonial Miami.

The tools used by Native Americans seem cool to me as well and makes me wonder how to use them properly and wanting to ask the museum staff (when I go) if I can use a replica of the tool to see it in practice.

The international Rivalry section open my eyes a bit because I had always known that the Creek Indians moved south to Florida to escape the English colonist but I didn’t know why the Spanish let them until I read that they were used as a buffer in between the colonies, nor did I know that the Creek became the Seminole Indians.

The pioneer settlement was also very cool to me because it made me imagine a western movie kind of house to me and that was fun because it allowed me just to play using my imagination for a bit before returning to the tour. The Tram seen later on the tour was almost surreal to me because I would always see them in old black and white recordings and TV showings but seeing it very real and in my face is different than anything I’ve seen before.

The tour was amazing and eye opening but in the end I believe seeing it in person is necessary to truly appreciate what the museum has to offer because the tour was informative and interesting but being to the location in person is entirely different level.

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