Cárdenas as Seen from Space

The wind that always blows from the east, off the coast of Africa, strokes the warm surface of the tropical Atlantic. The water yields to the constant wind and follows it westward across the ocean. At first the water travels in two parallel currents, the north equatorial and the south equatorial. But when these twin currents sweep into the Caribbean Sea they come together and become one great stream that skirts the islands of the Lesser Antilles, rebounds off the Central American coast, and returns to the Atlantic through the Straits of Florida with the power of a thousand Mississippis.

At the narrowest part of the Straits, where the flow is strongest, the stream passes by the ancient port city of Havana before turning north past the east coast of Florida. This turn to the north, and the carrying power of its currents, has made this stream at once the corridor and the moving force of a long and watery exodus from the island of Cuba.

J. Joaquin Fraxedas, St. Martin's Press, 1993)

Esta pagina en Espanol


NASA photo #STS046-86-064
  This photo was taken during Space Shuttle mission STS 46. The photo depicts the geographic relationship of the Island of Cuba to the mainland of the United States, and particlarly the Florida Peninsula. Miami is the Florida city that has received a million and a half Cuban Exiles from all walks of life that have been arriving there since 1959, escaping the repressive Castro regime. The photo below indicates various points of interest that appear in this photo taken from space.
  The Florida Peninsula looms large in this Photo, with Lake Okeechobee featured promiently above South Florida. The treacherous Florida Straits, which have been crossed succesfully on rickety rafts by thousands of Balseros or "rafters" (and has become a watery grave for countless thousands of others), appear non-threatenning in this photo. Although some balseros have left Cuba via Cárdenas and Varadero (some from the beach on sailboards and catamarans), most have left from the greater Havana area on home-made rafts constructed of inner tubes, wood, rope and jute. Paddling directly north from Havana has put them into the rapid northeastbond currents of the Gulfstream.


NASA photo #13-36-1621
  This photo was taken by Astronaut Robert Crippen in April of 1984, during Space Shuttle mission STS 41-C, as part of a study of cloud formations. The photo depicts the western half of the Island of Cuba. Below you can see the same photo indicating the locations of Cárdenas and various other points of interest on the island.
  If you look closely, you can see the urban centers in lighter tones, which contrast against the darker tones of the Cuban countryside. Take note of how clearly you can see the city of Matanzas on the shores of its bay, as well as the huge urban area that exists around the City of Havana. Also observe the immensity of the Bay of Cárdenas in contrast with the smaller bays of Havana and Matanzas, but also note the shallowness of its waters evidenced by their light blue color in the photo.


Other Images from Space:
  NASA Photo# 100-05-189
  NASA Photo# 200-28-229
  NASA Photo# 200-80-706
  NASA Photo# 200-85-770
  NASA Photo# 200-85-771