Algonquin Indians originating in the subarctic regions of Eastern Canada, gradually migrated southward through the Great Lakes; some settling as far south as what is now Miami. As a matter of fact, our city name comes from Algonquin dialects. Today, Canadians along with midwestern and northeastern residents of the United States follow the same travel pattern — and it starts just about this time of the year.
Our name is pronounced several ways. My-am’-ee, Me-ah’-me, and My-yam’-ah. Fortunately residents recognize all of these pronunciations and understand the geographic reference. Unfortunately that is where some understanding ends.
More than 65% of Greater Miami’s population is hispanic. While many have emigrated from Cuba, most Caribbean, South and Central American countries are represented. Spanish is the primary language for most of these folks; however, each country has its own dialect, so understanding the spoken word can be difficult. A polite idiomatic phrase from a Chilean could turn out to be an insult to a Venezuelan.
Over the years there has been much controversy over which language should be Miami’s “first” (English or Spanish). We finally settled on Spanglish, a blending of the two. It sounds something like this, “Por favor, may I have some agua?”
But Spanish is not the only language that flourishes here. There is French, Creek (the language of the Seminole Tribe), Creole and Portuguese.
Miami is rich in various cultures and cuisines. There are Caribbean influences in cooking, with tropical fruit salsas, spicy Jamaican Jerk dishes, Cuban fried plantains, and rum infused dishes from Puerto Rico. Several of the spices and flavors go back to Spain and Africa and remain present in today’s recipes.
We have tall green palms and a turquoise ocean, white sandy beaches and brilliantly colored flowers. Miami is a city of vibrant color, music, food and energy. We are famous for our Art Deco design, Miami Vice, the macarena and, of course, Gloria Estefan.
Visitors to our city expect bronzed residents. While the tourists bake on our beaches to a bright bougainvillea pink, most residents have learned what a tropical sun can do to the skin. Of course, most of us are at work or in school during many of the daylight hours.
There are plenty of activities for visitors. Do you love the ocean? Try fishing, boating, scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing or just hanging out at the beach.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote of the ‘River of Grass.’ This is our Everglades and it shouldn’t be missed. The Seminole Tribe lives here. You can see how they settled the area and learn about their culture. But be careful, there are also ‘gators, and cougars, and birds – oh my!
Are you interested in sports? We have football, baseball, basketball and hockey, and we may add soccer to the lineup.
Are you inclined to more classical entertainment? Try the opera, ballet, or symphony. If you like something more contemporary ‘Broadway’ comes to various Miami stages frequently. There are many museums and Miami hosts the world’s largest art exhibition, ‘Art Basel.’
We have something for everyone! No one gets bored in Miami! Are you planning a vacation soon? As the weather gets dreary up north, close your eyes and think ‘sunny Miami.’ Now, listen closely, we’re calling you.