Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Day Two ... or ... Hanging Around Downtown Miami

Monday, I considered driving somewhere but a couple of non-driving items were fairly high on my "to-do" list. Whenever I go someplace new, I always like to learn something about the area's history and, if possible, try out the local public transport system.


So, out I went to hop aboard Miami's free Metromover (the first elevated people mover in the US). The trains glide along every 90 seconds or so on their 2 mile route around Miami's downtown. I got off at Government Center and, after asking around a bit, found my way to the Miami-Dade library where I was able to cop an all-too-short 15 minutes of free internet time.


Then I crossed the lovely, open-air, spanish-fortress-themed plaza (I didn't take any pics of my own, there were too many scary sorts hanging around and I didn't want to appear too much a "tourist type" target by pulling out my camera)
to the Historical Museum of South Florida where I got to "Explore 10,000 Years of History and Culture in Greater Miami and South Florida".



The early peoples lived in thatched homes on "hummocks" of forested land that rose above the surrounding marshland and traveled about by means of dug-out canoes.

One of the few things I remember from the trip across the Everglades to Key West that we made when I was a child was seeing Seminoles living (or more likely, acting a living history role) in thatch-roofed open sided shelters like this.



The arrival of Spanish frigates signaled the beginning of the end of the old way of life as the search for silver and gold took presidence over everything else--even human life. The silver ingots on the right and the gold doubloons on the left were salvaged from Spanish sailing ships that foundered and went down along the coast of South Florida...and are now kept securely locked in cases with security cameras constantly trained on them.


There was also a model of The USS Maine, the U.S. Ship which was blown up in Havana Harbor by the Spaniards at the start of the Spanish-American War, hence the battle cry "Remember the Maine." Several salvaged artifacts were on display also, though the ship's silver service (including a beautiful large soup tureen) is on display and in use in the governor's house in the State of Maine.


Finally, sated with history, I emerged into the sunny, but still chilly, afternoon to return to the hotel. I was only about 7 blocks away so first I thought I'd walk but I was a bit turned around and wasn't quite sure which direction to go and didn't see any likely prospects for getting directions, so, after brushing off two or three panhandlers, decided the metromover seemed like a wiser option. I rode it the rest of the way around its loop just for curiosity's sake and hopped off at the hotel where I walked down to the waterfront to see how many cruise ships were docked over at the Port of Miami.
Just one this time. On Sunday afternoon, we saw four of them all lined up waiting to be loaded with supplies and passengers before heading out to sea.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sunny said...

What a good time you had! I dimly remember a drive across the evergldes but no recall at all of Seminoles "living" in thatches. You're lucky you remember that.

12:55 AM  

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