I don't have any problem speak English or Spanish, but at the same? My weekend stop-over in Miami was language confusion on a higher level. The stamp in my passport stated "United State of America Homeland Security" but apart from the friendly border guard speaking with a thick American accent, everyone were speaking Spanish anywhere.
Maybe the language confusion for me is bigger because both languages are my secondaries. Or maybe it is because I'm from such a homogeny country where we only have one official language – even though most people have a decent level of English. I don’t know. At least my confusion of which language to address people in was enormous.
The confusion and my awareness of the city's bilingualism properly became bigger because I was staying with Cuban friends with whom I as well speak Spanish. When you enter a shop or restaurant in Miami, you are mostly addressed in English. My standard reaction is to answer people in the language I’m addressed. However, I found it common – not just for my Cuban friends – that almost all Spanish speakers swift to Spanish with the biggest naturalness and expectation to get a respond in Spanish. Hence, I was normally responding waiters, shop assistants in English, whereas my Cuban friends quickly changed to Spanish and the conversation then continued in Spanish.
I know that the Latin American – and especially Cuban – community in Miami is big. And the truth being that the US does not have an official federal language, I should not be surprised. However, I found it quiet strange to be in the US excepted everyone to speak English, and then every conversation ended up in Spanish. However, it also made me think whether this huge Spanish influence is actually favourable for the integration of future immigrants in the US? No matter what, Miami for sure lives up to its nick name "Little Havana".
Apart from that Miami is immense, and tourism is based on shopping, partying and “playa”. During my 4 days I only got to see a tidy bit of the city, even though my friends made a huge effort to make me see the most. For me as a traveller who like narrow allies and historical sights, Miami was just huge with a very Western European look - or maybe it is the other way around? No wonder there are theories in social science talking about Americanizacion.
Have you ever been to Miami? What do you think about the city and the Spanish-English paradox?