The point of the trip is to go to Cuba, not Miami. Still, I did spend over 12 hours in Miami, which
makes it part of the trip.
There was so much Spanish. Miami might not be right next to Mexico the way some other US cities
are, but it has enough flights to Latin American countries to make bilingualism a job requirement, at
least in the places I was. (Airport and hotel near the airport. I never claimed it was a representative
The person who drove the shuttle from the hotel to the Airport was from Colombia, and had a Cuban
girlfriend. He'd majored in political science with a minor in history, and I believe was planning on
being a lawyer.
Our waiter at lunch was from Nicaragua. Many other people who I spoke with either spoke with a
Spanish accent or later spoke Spanish to someone else.
From the people going on the trip with me, I learned just how different Spanish can be from country to
country. I knew there was a differences between Spain's Spanish and the Spanish of Latin America, and
it makes sense that there would be regional differences, but the number of differences from country to
country sounds terrifying. There are multiple different words for “avocado,” depending on where you
come from. There are about half a dozen different ways to refer to a bus. And that's without getting into
how much of Spanish is apparently idioms.
There are multiple people on the trip with me who have studied Spanish for years, spoken it in a
foreign country, and are looking at Cuba and going “yeah. I don't know how much I'll be able to
understand. Or be understood.”
Still, their Spanish will probably be way more useful than my Japanese, or even French. Hopefully
English will be good enough.
Most of my interactions with people who worked in Miami came while we were asking (in English) if
they sold either cell phones or SIM cards that worked in Cuba. Most of the responses were “No. Have
you tried” and then they named another store. Once the salesperson suggested trying in Cuba, which
was presumably the only worthwhile suggestions, since none of the American-side stores had them.
Probably the two most unique responses we got were:
“Um... we have an iPone 5S.” So if I wanted to spend a lot of money ons something that wouldn't work
in Cuba, I could have.
Laughter. “Cuba? No, we don't have anything that works there. Try <name of other store.> They might
help. Maybe.” The store she directed us to was the one that tried to sell us an iPhone.
Miami seemed nice, though. Warm, too. I wouldn't mind spending more time there, though I'd rather
spend that time in Cuba.