MIM Service Project by Jose Rosales

The concept of extinction is one which stands rather abstract in the heart of men. By many, it is perceived as that which has yet to come, as a fictitious thing rather than a brutal reality. It saddens me to know of the ever-growing list of species that find themselves helpless before the reckless nature of my very own species. While there are many conservation groups that fight to preserve our ecosystems, not enough is being done worldwide to prevent this alarming and ongoing problem.

This semester, alongside professor Bailly and my classmates, we ventured to truly discover the essence of the Magic City. Throughout this eventful journey, we were exposed to Miami’s history. However, something peculiar about this class is that instead of being bombarded with information that could perhaps be received as boring in a classroom setting, we actually followed in the footsteps of history. My favorite class, however, was the day in which we went to chicken key with the purpose of freeing it up of as much marine debris as we could possibly fit in our canoes. Extraordinary work was done by the class as a whole, as we were able to bring back to shore a massive amount of litter. I recall being exhausted from all the work and paddling, yet at the same time I felt satisfied and proud of this initiative. The next day I shared with my friends pictures of the island and told them all about our goal. They were fascinated and eager to join if there ever was another possibility. Which was perfect, because despite all of our best efforts, a great deal of pollution still plagues the island. One of my classmates, Nicole Patrick, had the initiative of talking with professor Bailly in order to organize another clean up. This time, however, FIU students from outside the class could also come to help. Nicole did an outstanding job at coordinating with the Deering Estate all the details about this event. She created a WhatsApp group for the volunteers and provided us with all of the information we needed so that things would flow as smooth as possible. We learned during our first clean up that bringing gloves and trash bags would facilitate our work and maximize our time. We paired up in teams and off to the island we went, once more, traveling by way of canoe. The current was very strong that day and the wind was not blowing in our favor. What was supposed to be a one mile travel distance felt like an eternity, but our determined team managed to overcome this and successfully arrive to the island as scheduled. Two weeks had passed since our most recent clean up and the amount of plastic debris was beginning to pile up along the shore again. It was incredible the way in which this team was able to come together and tirelessly work to reach the areas that we could not reach before. A total of eight canoes were filled with all the trash collected off of the island. Once we were back on the shore, we helped put away the canoes and formed a circle for a debrief and to thank each other for taking part in the event.

The work done at the island may seem insignificant in the bigger scheme of things, but it so happens that professor Bailly found an endangered Diamondback Terrapin turtle that was stuck in trash and released it. He notified the Deering Estate and they are taking special precautions to help secure the safety of this rare species.

I can only hope that more people would become conscious of all the damage that we are doing to our planet and that many more groups like this one can come together to help preserve the Earth.

MIM Ineffable Miami Fall 2019: Hialeah by Jose Rosales

BIOGRAPHY

Jose Rosales is a pre-med student currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Florida International University. His goal is to attend medical school in hopes of one day practicing neurosurgery. What little time he has left outside of school and work he devotes to his family; as he has recently been blessed with the arrival of his father from Cuba, he continues to work tirelessly to one day be reunited with little sister and step mother who still reside there.

Hialeah City

Map retrieved from Google Maps

Florida is one of the most visited places in the US and the world. In search of sunshine, fun, excitement, and adventure, most people are glad they have visited different places in Florida, and some prefer it as their favorite holiday destination. Popularly referred to as the Sunshine State, Florida, has incredible weather all year round, delicious seafood, beautiful beaches, and plenty of day trip adventures to choose from for visitors and tourists. There is much more to see in Florida, as such smaller hometowns are often overlooked, Hialeah is one such city. Situated within Miami-Dade County, it is held as the sixth biggest city in Florida. Hialeah is a dynamic, community-based city that is marked by the cultural blending of various Hispanic peoples. This travel guide will elaborate on why Hialeah is an extraordinary place to visit, live, and work.

HISTORY

Hialeah has a proud and long history from its establishment in 1925 to date. One of the oldest historical sites in this city is the Hialeah Park Racetrack, which was built in 1925 (Hum, 2016). The Hialeah Park Race Track is also known as the Miami Jockey Club, and it is one of the oldest recreational facilities in the city. People usually go to Hialeah Park to watch and spectate horse racing competitions. Hialeah is a city well known for the significant number of Cuban exiles who immigrated to the area, and who till today continue to make up a substantial portion of the town (Hum, 2016). From its early days, the city has been home to great cultural diversity and dynamic communities such as the Hispanics who make up 94% of the population, ranging from Puerto Ricans to Mexicans, among other Hispanic groups. 

Hialeah was also a historic docking area for Indians and their canoes, where they displayed their wares to be bought by residents of this area and others from other Miami cities (Hum, 2016). The name Hialeah has been attributed to Muskogee origin, meaning “High Prairie” meaning grassy plains. In the early 1920s, Hialeah captured the attention of silent movies and sports up to 1926 when various hurricanes caused severe destruction to the city. Films like “The White Rose” by D.W Griffith were directed and produced in Hialeah by the Miami Movie Studios (Hum, 2016). Popular sporting activities during that period included the Spanish Sport of Jai Alai and Greyhound racing, all of which featured horse racing competitions at the Hialeah Park.

Hialeah Park Racetrack, Photo by: (Alamy, 2019)

DEMOGRAPHICS

Hialeah is the tenth-largest city in the US, and it has a population density of ten thousand people per square mile, according to the 2018 census (Data-USA. 2018). According to the census, there were a total of seventy-four thousand households, and only 3.9% of the households were unoccupied. As of the year 2015, the population of the city grew from 234,714 to 246,626 (Data-USA. 2018). The median household income is estimated to be $29, 817, which is a 1.94% increase from 2015 when it was expected to be $29,248 (Data-USA. 2018). According to the 2018 census, the age distribution showed that people under the age of eighteen consisted of about 23% of the population, with the median age being 43.5 years (Data-USA. 2018).

As of the year 2015, 36% of the population had children living in their households, and only 7.8% of households had someone living alone (Data-USA. 2018). The average family size in the city was estimated to be 3.39, and the average household size was determined to be 3.15 in the 2018 census (Data-USA. 2018). It was also estimated that 57% of the population was married, with only 18% of the population being single mothers with no husband present. The highest percentage of indigenous cultures consisted of the Cuban Americans who made up 73.37% of the population, Hispanics comprised 94% of the populace, Columbian, Dominican, Nicaraguans, and Hondurans consisted 3% of the population (Data-USA. 2018). English and other languages are spoken below 7%, while 92% of the population spoke Spanish. Hialeah holds the second highest density of Spanish speakers in the United States.

URBAN DESIGN

Hialeah Zoning Department coordinates urban design and planning (Giordano, 2017). The department has the responsibility of granting construction permits, approving building plans, and defining construction procedures in various parts of the city. The central idea that influences the urban policy of Hialeah City is to promote a change in travel habits (Giordano, 2017). A survey was done by two major local corporations, as part of the WRI Florida and World Bank Corporate Mobility project, which indicates that 40% of employees use the car for journeys up to 1.5 km, and a third of them, up to 5 km (Giordano, 2017). The Hialeah Zoning Department aims at promoting improvements to attract drivers for public transport, reducing congestion, and impacting the quality of life throughout the region.

The urban design of Hialeah City has power over the city. In designing the city with a focus on walking and cycling, it inevitably incurs a movement contrary to what is still traditional in many cities (Giordano, 2017). Priority has now been given to people rather than cars with a particular interest in adventurers who visit the city to explore. The high concentration of department stores makes Hialeah City one of the leading trade centers of Miami, which generates an intense pedestrian flow in the region. Most of the neighborhood streets, however, do not meet this demand – the sidewalks are narrow and often clogged, crossing times for people are short, and there are few safety lanes available (Giordano, 2017).

TRANSPORTATION

The city sits in the heart of the Northwest Dade and has access to major roads, including the 1-75, Florida Turnpike, Okeechobee Road, and the Palmetto Expressway (Lynn, 2017). People wishing to conduct business around Hialeah can expect smooth arrival via the two major airports of Opa-Locka Airport and the Miami International Airport, the latter of which is only 10 minutes from Hialeah. Some of the major railway systems in this city include the Metrorail Transfer station and the Miami Metrorail, which provide transport to various parts of the city and Miami (Lynn, 2017). Hialeah City also has a fleet of transit buses that enhance the quality of transportation services across the city for its residents. For tourists that want to explore the beach and do some fishing, a fleet of private boats is available offshore for hire.

Metrorail Transfer station is Hialeah City’s most assertive, constant, but scarce means of public transportation, due to the fact that it is reliable and thus frequented by locals. Usually, people can count on the subways in the range of twenty to forty minutes on weekdays and a little more on Sundays (Lynn, 2017). Given that Hialeah is a primarily residential city, rather than a mainstream tourist location, subways are scarce because the city has few subway and train lines (CPTM) compared to other metropolises around Miami. Many visitors prefer to use the subway because it is not usually congested like the railway lines. Transit buses are the best option for people who are not in a rush, and they provide the best platform for the exploration of various sites in the city (Lynn, 2017).

MUSEUMS

There are various museums near Hialeah for people who love art, vintage items, and animals. The Lock and Load Museum is one of the favorite destinations for tourists in the region as it presents a wide range of historical weapons, particularly in the form of firearms (Ann, 2019). At the Lock and Load Museum, visitors can shoot the vintage weapons with the help of experts and get information about the guns on display, which makes for a more interactive experience with history (Ann, 2019). For lovers of graffiti art, the Wynwood Walls Museum is the best place to be as it presents excellent graffiti art, various art galleries, and eclectic shops (Ann, 2019). Another museum for art lovers is the Miami Design District, where there is an excellent presentation of sculptures, innovative art paintings, and high-end art shops. 

For people who like exploring art from various cultures, the Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center is a great place to start (Ann, 2019). The museum presents art artifacts of Cuban culture, from cocktails, live music, and rum collections to others, which date from the 18th century. The Walt Grace Vintage Museum is another excellent place to be in the city, and it offers a presentation of vintage cars and guitars for lovers of all things musical or automotive (Ann, 2019). For the people that enjoy wildlife and sea creatures, the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science offers a place to enjoy an exceptional view of wildlife, birds of prey, reptiles, everglades birds, fish, and a touch tank where one can view and touch the stingrays and manta rays (Ann, 2019). 

MONUMENTS

One of the most famous monuments in Hialeah City is the Cuban Heritage Park, located on Hialeah Drive, built to honor the Cuban high-profile exiles such as Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot. The refugees escaped Cuba with the ascent of the Cuban Revolution (Ann, 2019). The Cuban Heritage Park has a collection of Cuban art, Photo gallery of the exiles, and other artifacts that commemorate the Cuban Revolution. The Hialeah Veterans Memorial Park is another famous monument in Hialeah City that seeks to commemorate fallen US soldiers from the time of World War I to date (Ann, 2019). The park has sculptures and monuments of outstanding soldiers that represent the military traditions and their sacrifice to their duty. One can also visit The Hialeah Park Race Track, which was established in 1925 to enjoy the historic nature of horse racing in Hialeah City, which hosted various famous people, including Winston Churchill (Ann, 2019).

PLACES OF WORSHIP

Hialeah has traditionally been a predominantly a Roman Catholic City, and this is evident from the fact that Catholic Churches sponsor many of the schools, hospitals, and other public facilities (Cruz, 2015). One such church is the St. John the Apostle Miami Catholic Church, located on E 4th Street, across from the local Navarro Supermarket. The city does however grant its residents the freedom of worship, with the exception of animal and human sacrifices, which are forbidden by the law. It is estimated the 40.6% of people in Hialeah City are religious, with the highest percentage being from Catholic churches, which consist of 22.4% (Cruz, 2015). Baptist churches in the city comprise of 5.4% of the overall churches, 0.5% are Episcopalian, 0.3% are Lutheran, 1.7% are Pentecostal, while 0.8% are Methodist. Other minority religions such as Islam consist of 0.9% of the entire churches, Judaism consists of 1.2%, and those of Eastern Faith consist of 0.2% (Cruz, 2015).

The City Government of Hialeah banned animal sacrifices that were usually practiced by the Santeria faith, a major church of which was the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye whose followers mainly come from the Santeria community (Cruz, 2015). The church of Lukumi had services that had significant influence from African religions and Roman Catholicism, among them animal sacrifice to express devotion to their spirits. With the exception of this case; the city government has not prohibited other religious practices in the city (Cruz, 2015). However, the city government had enacted ordinances that prohibit ritualistic religions in the area, and these require any church with rituals to be put under investigation. The government argues that people’s mobility and transit of religious practices and ideas are relatively dissociated here (Cruz, 2015). This difference must be understood in light of the social stratification of the spiritual. The social profile of separatists is above the national average in terms of income and education. Spiritists establish heavy traffic between Catholics and “without religion,” and in this case, the circuit comprises a population group with better living conditions.

EATERIES

From seafood, traditional Peruvian food, Cuban Cuisine, and local delicacies, Hialeah City has all the food one can aspire to explore (Garcia, 2016). The most common sittings along nearby beaches are shrimp trucks that sell takeaway shrimps that are fresh caught and delicious. Other restaurants that sell different types of seafood include Don Camaron that popularly serves shrimp in a parmesan cream sauce and salmon cilantro, which is a type of Cuban delicacy (Garcia, 2016). For people who enjoy authentic Cuban food, La Carreta provides excellent homestyle cuisine in a comfortable yet refined environment. Cultural food restaurants include the El Rinconcito De Santa Barbara, El Rinconcito Peruano, Graziano’s, and El Palacio de los Jugos restaurants (Garcia, 2016). Among the most notable is Porto Alegre , a new Brazilian Steakhouse offering all-you-can-eat grilled meats in a homey setting; it is truly a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, located off of LeJeune road and east 9th avenue. These cultural restaurants sell Cuban, Vietnamese, Peruvian, and Caribbean foods that include pastels, Arroz con gandules, saltado, jalea mixta, and other varieties (Garcia, 2016).

SUMMARY

Hialeah is a hometown in the popular holiday and vacation spot that is Miami, as such it houses a variety of small family owned businesses that further contribute to its colorful cultural mosaic. It is considered to be an industrious city that is constantly in forward movement, as its establishment in 1925 and name “The City of Progress” suggests. Visitors and tourists get to enjoy a wide variety of activities in the city, including recreation and educational programs in the enriching life in Hialeah. From museums, water parks, restaurants, churches, and other recreational activities, the progressing city offers them all. Hialeah is a city for those adventurous enough to seek the true and unfiltered authenticity of the colorful Cuban culture.

REFERENCES

Ann, F. (2019). THE 10 BEST Museums to Visit in Hialeah. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34284-Activities-c49-Hialeah_Florida.html

Auto-transport. (2019). Sixth largest city: Hialeah, FL. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://www.a1autotransport.com/hialeah/

Cruz, R. T. (2015). Animal sacrifice and equal protection free exercise: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy17(1), 262.

Data-USA. (2018). Hialeah, FL | Demographics. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://datausa.io/profile/geo/hialeah-fl/

Garcia, S. (2016). The Essential Guide to Hialeah Restaurants. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://miami.eater.com/maps/best-hialeah-restaurants

Giordano, C. (2017). City of Hialeah Comprehensive Plan. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://www.hialeahfl.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1498/Comprehensive-Plan-2015—2025-PDF

Hum, G. (2016). History of Hialeah. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://flashbackmiami.com/2015/08/06/hialeah/

Limited, A. (2019). Stock Photo – HialeahMiami Florida Hialeah Park quarter horse racing racetrack finish line crowd bettors. Retrieved 13 December 2019, from https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-hialeahmiami-florida-hialeah-park-quarter-horse-racing-racetrack-finish-142124755.html

Miami in Miami: Jose Rosales

Photo by Lily Fonte

Biography

Hello everyone. My name is Jose Rosales, my family emigrated from Cuba about 10 years ago when I was 14 years of age. I am a FIU undergrad who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Biology. I plan to graduate next semester and attend Medical School with the goal of becoming a great neurosurgeon.

I basically grew up in Miami, but I have never exploited the fact that I live in such a popular city. If you go to any country (or any other state for that matter) and you say that you are from Miami, the first thought that goes into people’s minds is that you are a wealthy individual who lives a luxurious life and enjoys all the benefits that the magic city has to offer. I for one, have always taken for granted the fact that I live in such a popular city. I have never taken the time to get to know my own city. Hence, I decided to join professor Bailly this semester so that alongside him and my classmates we can truly discover everything that this weird, yet attractive city has to offer.

Metro as Text

Miami: A City Full of Hidden Treasures By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on September 11, 2019

I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and never had it occurred to me to ride the metro. There is this misconception that people have that public transportation is unsafe and just not practical. I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and never had it occurred to me to ride the metro. There is this misconception that people have that public transportation is unsafe and just not practical. As time progresses, our society becomes more and more dependent on technology. We try to connect with people through applications such as Facebook and Instagram when in reality we just end up isolating ourselves from other people. Applications like Uber and Lyft make it easier to get to a desired destination with the click of a button, some of their more affordable options even include carpooling which is great for the environment and helps decrease the number of cars on the streets. However, these benefits are nothing compared to the advantages bestowed upon us by public transportation. The first big difference we can see is price, the metro is a transportation method that is fairly inexpensive. Riding the metro allows you to connect and interact with people, you get to see how they go about their everyday life. Even if you do not approach the passengers and establish a conversation, you still find yourself encountering all kinds of different people and of different social classes. Hence, get to connect with the more humane aspect of your life. Not to mention how much faster you can reach your desired destination, since you are avoiding all the traffic that encompasses living in a city as overpopulated as Miami. One of the downsides of riding the metro (or any form of public transportation for that matter) is what is known as “the last mile”, which basically means that these transport methods can often warrantee to get you within a mile of your objective. However, I like to see it as an opportunity to exercise your body by either walking or riding a bike. Overall, I had a great time learning how to ride the metro and discovering areas of Miami to which I had never been before.

Vizcaya as Text

The Jewel of the shoreline By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on September 25, 2019

Vizcaya Museum & Garden is a place that is often associated with quinceañeras and weddings due to this historic landmark’s astonishing beauty. I have lived in Miami for the past 10 years and I had never paid a visit to this monumental village until our first trip with professor Bailly. Turns out Vizcaya is much more than just a magnificent architectural jewel, it is the epitome of cultural appropiation.

What once was an endless shoreline of mangroves and inland native forest, billionaire James Deering turned into an extravagant villa that would later embody Miami’s essence. As you disembark the train at Vizcaya Metrorail Station and you make your way towards the villa, there is a bridge that dances with the flora and moves out of nature’s way in a zig-zag pattern that is both beautiful and respectful. As you reach the west entrance, you are greeted by a sculpture of Ponce de Leon and two flowing fountains that lead the way to the estate’s façade as you walk under a massive arch formed by trees that rise from both side of the walkway. James Deering’s goal was to create an Italian Renaissance style Villa as authentic as possible, and he did, it looks as though a European architectural piece had been magically removed from its rightful place and it had been planted on the coast of Florida. Deering wished for his winter residence to be a representation of his wealth, and he made sure that his guests acknowledged that. A statue of Dionysus can be found at the entrance of the mansion that captures the essence of Miami –as Dionysus is the god of wine and pleasure. He wanted his guests to know that his residence was a paradise, a Garden of Eden. He understood the very nature of Miami, of what it should rise to be, a city that is as weird and extravagant as it is beautiful.

Deering Estate as Text

The Sister Jewel By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on October 13, 2019

The Deering Estate is a four hundred- and forty-four-acre time travel machine that allows you to retrace the steps of history. It grants you the opportunity to walk the same paths as our predecessors. Thus, facilitating discovery as you dive deeper into its prominent hammocks, which house the subtle secrets that it has to share with the eyes of the meticulous explorer.

As we ventured further into the grounds (avoiding certain poisonous trees and solution holes) we came across different fossils that date as far back as 50, 000- 100, 000 years. I was fascinated at the fact that I stood where many creatures now extinct, such as mammoths, once roamed free, the only thing that stood between us was time. Let alone the fact that it never crossed my mind that at any given point in time mammoths wandered in Florida. I will never forget the moment I got to hold in my very hands a fragment of such magnificent creature’s teeth, something that I can now proudly check off from my bucket list.

Paleo Indians, Tequesta’s and Seminoles have lived at different times in the land encompassed by the Estate. During our hike we also stumbled upon many artifacts that serve as living proof of the Tequesta’s trading methods. We discovered different colored pieces of pottery that hail from different parts of the nation. We know this based on the elemental composition of such fragments. These native Americans would trade pottery items for conch shell tools, which were modified by them to serve various purposes. We also had the opportunity to visit a Tequesta burial mound where their loved ones now rest in peace. A colossal oak tree lays at the center of the burial, serving as its very own Taj Mahal. I can only hope that more people would take the time to enjoy this magical experience, and by effect learn more about our past.

Chicken Key as Text

In Preservation of our Shoreline By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on October 23, 2019

A week had passed and I found myself back at the Sister Jewel. This time, however, with a different goal in mind, to save the lives of many marine animals that struggle to fight against the wreckage that we as human leave behind. As we gathered by the bay, professor Bailly detailed out the instructions on how we were to proceed once we got to Chicken Key. I remember having a hard time keeping focus due to the inexplicable beauty that lay before me. It was a sunrise like no other, and I just kept thinking that it was at last the time for me to make a positive impact on our local environment. We traveled by way of canoe, after paddling for approximately 45 minutes we arrived at a small island that would prove to be the beginning of our adventure. Once there, we were faced with an overwhelming amount of marine debris. There were plastic bottles, shattered glass, plastic bags and all kinds of rubbish scattered all around. It was just a heart-breaking moment, to come to the realization of how much unnecessary harm humans can cause not only to the beautiful and innocent creatures that inhabit our waters but to the planet itself. Freeing up the island from so much pollution is definitely one thing that brings peace to my mind and something that I can be proud of. I wish people would become more conscious of all the damage that we are doing to our planet. We as human are so proud of our technological advancements and exalt ourselves as a superior species. Yet, in truth, we are just the most brutal, selfish and cruel organism of them all.

Wynwood as Text

A look into Contemporary Art By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on November 6, 2019

People often spend months, even years, planning trips to European countries such as Italy and Spain in order to visit museums and experience masterpieces by the greatest artist of all times, such as Picasso and da Vinci. However, something that I did not know is that we have on our very own backyards (metaphorically speaking), some of the leading contemporary art collections in the world. Collections that people from Paris, Rome and from all over the world desperately long to visit. It is funny how everything is a matter of perspective, how one finds more desirable that which one cannot easily obtain (or have access to for that matter). To be honest, art has never been one of my strong suits. Though I was excited for the visit to the art collections, I did not expect to be truly captivated by anything. I was expecting to see what I always believed to be overpriced abstract paintings that I couldn’t understand. However, much to my surprise, we came across some fantastic and very unique works of art. At the Margulies Collection, we were extremely fortunate to have Mr. Margulies himself take time out of his busy schedule to give us a tour of the premises. As we walked by the different rooms, he explained how art was not only about being visually appealing to the audience but that it was also about conveying a message. Art can take on many forms, from a simple photograph to a sculpture, to a urinal hung up on the wall. I remember he said, “if you take a shirt and hang it on the wall, then it becomes art… that does not mean it is good art, but still art nonetheless”. When he said this, everyone laughed because it was so funny, yet also true. He gave us a little insight on how he collects the works that he believes in and he even let us take a peek to what he had in storage. After visiting both, Margulies and the De la Cruz Collection, I finally understood that, as the saying goes, you cannot judge a book by its cover. One must first approach the piece and try to understand it whether it be visually appealing or not, and only then should we decide whether we like it or not. I will be definitely be coming back with my family and friends and share with them a little bit of what I have learned.

HistoryMiami as Text

The Land of Freedom By Jose Rosales of FIU in Miami on November 20, 2019

Located at the heart of Downtown Miami, there lies one of the largest history museums in the State of Florida, The HistoryMiami Museum. Founded in the year 1940 (under a different name), this museum serves as the second oldest cultural institution in South Florida. This fine facility takes you back in time and gives you the opportunity to re-live the history of Miami, since it houses thousands of historic images and artifacts recovered from all throughout Miami’s history. This varied collection ranges from dire wolf fossils, to a trolley car from the 1920s, to hand-made rafts that successfully carried those desperate and courageous enough to flee their countries in search of refuge.

During our stay in the museum, we were accompanied by Maria Moreno, who served as our tour guide. She did a phenomenal job explaining every otherwise elusive detail, among which were the differences between the various eras exhibited as we were guided through the facility. We were even given the unique opportunity to hold in our very hands a knife carved from the jawbone of a crocodile by the native Tequestas, this tool among many others are believed to be over a thousand years old. A particularly striking story was that of Negro Abraham, a “slick” African Seminole warrior that earned the respect of Indians and federal officials alike for his rare ability to translate.

America is built upon united sacrifice for the principle of freedom, yet this is often taken for granted. I was profoundly moved at having learned of the many hardships that those immigrants before me had undergone for an opportunity at freedom, to be deserving of a better life and the chance to give their progenies the opportunity of a brighter future. On display there was a crude hand-made raft that was recovered from the shores. It so happens that many years later a family would come to visit the museum and one gentleman claimed that said raft was the one used by his family to escape the Castro regime. In order to support his claim, he described the raft in full detail and even told his story, of how 5 people boarded the little boat with nothing more than a couple of gallons of fresh water, a very limited food supply, and the reckless hope of reaching what was known to many as “The Land of Freedom”. This really puts into perspective how privileged we all are to live in a nation that although far from perfect, provides everyone with opportunity in equal measure regardless of color, ethnicity or beliefs.

After what proved to be quite a memorable tour, we made our way to the Freedom Tower, a building that serves as our very own Statue of Liberty. This stunning example of architecture was once used to process, document, and provide medical and dental services for the Cuban refugees who somehow through sheer determination managed to escape from an oppressive communist regime.

In retrospect, it is keenly poetic that this tour would have occurred when it did, as it served as a terminal point of unification for all the knowledge that we have gathered through our multiple adventures in the Magic City.

Miami Art as Text

“The Birth of Abstractions” By Jose Rosales of FIU at UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach on December 4, 2019

The concept of art has existed for as long as humankind could grasp abstraction. It has always served as a means to record historical events in a way that transcends the barriers of language. Art has no tongue, and regardless of the medium being used, finds a way to transcend to the audience’s subconscious and transmit a message that could be both visual and subliminal.

This week we were scheduled to visit the UNTITLED ART fair at Miami Beach. I have never really cared much for art myself. Needless to say, I had no idea that such fairs even took place so close to my own hometown. Untitled Art is a curated art fair that was founded in the year 2012 by Jeffrey Lawson. The fair focuses on integrity and curatorial balance across all the different disciplines of contemporary art. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Emily, who graciously took time from her busy schedule to talk to us about the history of the event. Good art is only one of the many requirements that needed to be met in order to make it to Untitled. It takes massive amounts of time and determination to go through the application process, to find a good gallery to represent your work, to have the monetary means to have your works of art shipped from (quite possibly) the other side of the world. Unlike Art Miami fair, Untitled is primary market for the most part, meaning that the art works being sold at the gallery are making their first appearance. Here the price of the artwork is established for the first time. What I found so fascinating about Untitled is that we had the honor to meet many artists that were at the exhibit presenting some of their pieces, guiding us to decipher the meaning of their work. Having the opportunity to experience works of art from all parts of the world, seeing how the team at Untitled had managed to make such a beautiful and well organized event possible was incredible. Galleries from all over the globe representing their cultural art and folklore. Prior to attending the fair, professor Bailly had mentioned various details of the event, but I definitely did not expect to see a Cuban gallery at the fair. El Apartamento, from Havana, CU had on display some works that were rather abstract, using wax from melted candles to represent different landscapes. Paintings that depicted Cuba’s history and folklore. However, what had the greatest impact on me were some wooden sculptures that looked rather rudimentary. They represented two teenage boys playing with homemade wooden scooters and skateboards, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and a notion of nostalgia invaded my heart. This is a power that I believed elusive to art, and it was simply beautiful.