Monday, 6 June 2016

Miami Deaf Centre / Church.

Lots of sunburn on Key West. 
Saturday, we took a trip to Key West which was EXHAUSTING. We set off at ten past six in the morning and got back at half ten at night, we barely had time to eat. Beautiful place and again, like all of Miami, scorching hot. We all got more sun burnt, as if that was possible. Key West was situated across a series of small bridges and islands and took us four and a half hours to get there no thanks to the lady who took forever at the hotel, how on earth do you forget your phone? Mine is glued to my hand. We went snorkeling which I was mega excited about but the sea was so choppy that I ingested more salt water than I thought possible and spent about half an hour on the boat rolling around and groaning because I felt thoroughly sick. Alison got dizzy, Mel and Arron were loving it while us two were sat downstairs trying very hard not to move. Snorkeling would have been amazing if the water was calm, the reefs a hive of fish darting back and forth through the  waving fronds of coral.

Anyway.  Yesterday, we all needed a rest day but we had booked to go visit a Deaf church, this was for my sake as I am very interested in how deaf people access religion and seeing sign language in a religious context was something I was fascinated by. We left Arron and Mel behind to relax and set out and arrived at the place about an hour earlier than the service started. We got to the church and there was no mention of deaf or Miami Deaf Centre or an ASL interpreted service. We met a woman coming out of a side door and Alison pushed me towards her like 'Ask where it is!'. I did and was met with a blank look of confusion, I thought maybe she didn't understand English so asked her, as most of America so far spoke Spanish. More blank looks and then I noticed she was watching my lips and when she signed deaf, my heart sunk. Alison stepped forward to sign that we were looking for the church and explained the confusion as I tried to dig myself a hole and become non- existent. But anyway, we had found it, after two buses, half an hour or walking and maybe fourteen Latino drivers honking at us because we were the only white people in our neighbour hood. 

A reoccurring theme in the Deaf Community here is that everyone is so nice. Not just polite nice but a genuine 'Oh its so nice to meet you!' nice that I haven't really seen anywhere in England. We introduced ourselves to the lady we first met and I apologized for speaking at her before, she didn't really care. More people started arriving, all of them introducing themselves and asking if we were hearing and deaf and we explained we were on a research trip from England. I was beginning to relax a little as I found I could understand what people were signing at us. 

Miami Deaf Church.
The service started, the pastor was a middle aged man who could only sign a little bit and not articulate fully what he was meaning to say but I was impressed that he was learning and signed a chunk of the bible to the congregation. He spoke Spanish as he signed and it soon dawned on me in horror that the whole service was interpreted in Spanish and that there were two channels of language in the room and I couldn't understand one of them. My favourite part was definitely the songs, the lady that interpreted these was so passionate and her faith flowed through the her hands as she signed. Everyone in the room joined in and then I realised that this was not like my reserved C of E church at home but it was a full on gospel church but instead of singing, people signed. People had there arms outstretched to the heavens and would clap and wave when the preaching got especially intense, which it did. It was incredible seeing a woman interpret a Spanish hearing woman's tale of how god allowed her son to live because she was obedient to him. Incredible and loud. 

About half way through more people drifted in to join the songs and preaching and I recognised two from Friday night that I had spoken to briefly, one of them Hector. We were asked to stand up during announcements and introduce ourselves and thats when everyone in the room clocked that I didn't understand Spanish. We stood up and signed a little about ourselves and I tried to articulate myself, I think I did alright. Afterwards, a few more people came over to speak to us and Hector came over to say hello, he recommended a place we should visit called Wyndwood Walls. We politely said our goodbyes and left. 

Hector, me and Alison at Wyndwood Walls. 
We were walking to the bus when I heard someone shouting me, I thought I was dreaming because everyone used Spanish or sign language but no I was right, I whipped round to find Hector yelling at us asking where we were going. Thats also how we ended up at Wyndwood Walls. Hector blared music down the highway because he had enough residual hearing to benefit from hearing aids, steered with his knees, danced whilst driving and drove whilst mapping our location on his I-phone. He was our unofficial tour guide for Wyndwood, which just happened to be probably the most amazing place I have ever visited. Every inch of this part of Miami was covered in graffiti but not the 'Baz loves Debby' type of graffiti, it was proper detailed artwork on a massive scale, everywhere. We were very grateful for Hector who became our unofficial tour guide and then drove us back to our hotel. 

Today, we have the day to ourselves before attending John Paul's lecture on Deaf culture at Miami Dade college. I will keep you undated on more of our adventures over here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment