Recently Added Memories
This is a list of memories people have recently shared. If you'd like to add your memory of Mariel, please search for your boat and click 'add your memory' on the boat's profile page.
Luis Jorge Saez Rosete's memory of Reef Queen
The Reef Queen was loaded with its full load of 360 refugees 24 hours before departure from Mariel. We were starving for those 24 hours and cramped in that "lake boat" without even a compass for the trip, waiting for the order to go.
My mother (read the rest of this memory)and I had been stuck in the concentration camp for 15 days prior eating 1 meal a day of rice and scrambled eggs and 1 yogourt and going to the bathroom in holes on the ground that were overflowing with excrement everywhere.
Someone had to be awake all the time not knowing when your name was going to be announced on the loudspeakers at any time of night of day. Being awake was not so difficult since sleeping in that dusty tent city dessert by the ocean was not much rest anyway.
The boat was supposed to carry a maximum of 100 passengers and it was loaded beyond its flotation mark. As was the case with most of the boats I saw departing the next day.
My mother Georgina Rosete and I were sea sick for the 48 hour trip to Miami. The boat could not handle the rough Gulf currents or go at a normal speed since it was overloaded.
I fell asleep on the top deck under a bench and woke up in the middle of the night with the beautiful sight of a huge Coast Guard Ship towering over our Reef Queen and booming directions for our Captain to correct its course cause we were heading for the middle of nowhere in the Gulf of Mexico, without even a working compass.
We could have very well have gone missing and sank without no one ever knowing had not been for that coast guard's help. Not unlike the unrecorded tragedies of hundreds of thousands of people in Castro's paradise island.
Just after arriving at that concentration camp we were ordered to surrender any identity documents, money or valuables.
When we finally reached Key West it was like a dream to touch land there. I tried for a short time to see if my aunt was around but as the crazy story goes she was still waiting in Mariel, for me and my mother to be released without her knowing.
So we spent a night sleeping under an airport hangar and next morning we were flown to Fort Indian base in Pennsylvania.
In the plane I was very proud to speak with an agent in English. I had spent a few years prior trying to learn as much as possible cause I knew I had to leave Castro's prison jail somehow.
I have never gone back to Cuba since May 23rd 1980. (July 9th 2010) 30 years later I write my memories
Ana Cid's memory of Miss Lanai
I was 11 years old when we heard the knock on the door and set sail a week later after sleeping at two separate beaches under the stars. During the last hours of the trip a severe storm caused the ship to take in water. My father said not to worry (read the rest of this memory)but at times I doubted that we would make it. The Key West lighthouse seemed so close but yet was a good two hours a way. It was the scariest 13 hours of my life. We had nothing but the clothes on our back but felt so happy and free. Coming to this country was the best decision my family ever made. I became a citizen and voted for the first time on my 18th birthday.
Amarelys Moreno's memory of God's Mercy
I came in the boat clled God's Mercy with my father, mother , brother and 2 sisters I was 5 years old. I remember how scared I was of the ocean still am. Finally found some info my brother has been looking for years for pictures.
juan's memory of Judy Ann I
La mas hermosa y emocionante experiencia de mi vida. Arribamos a Cayo Hueso al amanecer de un precioso dia, era como haber salido de una pelicula en blanco y negro (Cuba) y entrar en una en colores(USA) "FANTASTICO"
Ricardo Villarino Mallol's memory of Tamaray
Este era mi barco,camaronero,aqui salimos en la manana serian las 10.am del mosquito al Barco 13 de Mayo 1980) salimos en la tarde y llegamos el dia 14 de Mayo a Cayo Hueso.me regalaron una cerveza Heineken,durante la travesia todo fue normal ....
Osvaldo Perez ( OVI )'s memory of Destiny Lynn
Salí de mi casa en un día de las madres, mi padre se me aflojo un poco y de pronto empezó a llorar, en ese instante me abrace a el y le dije no te defraudare y mi madre mas fuerte en ese momento le dijo vamos no me aflojes al muchacho ahora, 25 años (read the rest of this memory)tenia cuando sin decir absolutamente nada, partí sin familia,sin nada pues nos lo quitaron todo me subí al carro que me llevaría al punto de chequeo y mire a darle el ultimo adiós y vi a mi padre y por segundos no me baje del carro para no irme. Mis padres ya murieron pero el recuerdo de ver el llanto de mi padre todavía me duele y la llevare por siempre en mi memoria.
Isis Rivero de la Cobas's memory of Makaira
Me siento muy satisfecha te tomar una deficir decision, de haver dejado detras mi madre, mi hermana, mi carrera, y la tierra donde naci para comensar un futuro insierto. Mi mayor meta era sacar ha mi hija del comunismo.
Eloy A. Perez Montejo's memory of Enterprise
30 años despues...
Gracias a Dios he cumplido 30 años de haber arribado a Key West, EEUU a traves del Puente del Mariel, despues de una noche, que consideramos la mas larga, oscura y peligrosa de nuestras vidas, atravesando el estrecho de la (read the rest of this memory) Florida en un mar violento provocado por una tormenta.
No, no soy Peter Pan, como algunos se habian imaginado, yo pertenezco al grupo de los Pepe Marielitos y me enorgullece haber arribado en ese grupo, despues de que mi salida del pais fue retenida por 16 años por un oficial de inmigracion que engaveto mis documentos en el año de 1964 cuando presente mi salida hacia España, pais de origen de mi padre y donde vive mi otra familia.
Decia me enorgullece ser Pepe Marielito, porque este exodo ha proporcionado al pais un sin numero de profesionales y hombres de negocios asi como otra gran cantidad de hombres y mujeres trabajadoras, que se han destacado en distintos sectores de la economia.
Recuerdo al llegar, que todas las escuelas, institutos y universidades del area de Miami estaban llenas de jovenes y otros no tan jovenes que querian continuar los estudios en los cursos nocturnos que ofrecian.
En mi caso, fui uno de los no tan jovenes que, junto a un grupo muy numeroso logramos continuar nuestros estudios en St. Thomas University y graduarnos en el año de 1984.
Agradezco a EEUU el haber permitido la educacion de mi hija que llego tambien aquel 27 de Mayo, con solo 4 años de edad, realizando todos sus estudios primarios, secundarios y universitarios aqui, logrando graduarse en dos carreras al mismo tiempo, ambas con honores en Florida Atlantic University en Mayo de 1998.
El agradecimiento especial a mi hermano Juan Jose, que dejo todo en Puerto Rico, tomo un barco camaronero y fue en nuestra busca al recibir mi llamado.
Tambien a mi hermana Maria Elena, mis padres, familia y amigos que nos brindaron la ayuda necesaria en todo momento.
Agradezco a EEUU que nos abrio los brazos y nos brindo la oportunidad de vivir en plena libertad de expresion y movimiento, pais donde cada uno logra los objetivos que se traza, siempre y cuando sepa aportar sus esfuerzos y sacrificios.
Ahora después de 30 años de trabajo este país nos ofrece una pensión monetaria suficiente y ademas nos brinda los servicios médicos y de hospitalizacion necesarios para continuar nuestra vida en la Tercera Edad.
Que mas podemos pedir a un pais donde no nacimos, pero nos ha acogido y nos ha brindado las mismas oportunidades que ofrece a sus hijos.
Gracias, mil Gracias.
Eloy A. Perez Montejo
Sandra Rodriguez's memory of Sun Hippie
I came to the US as a 7 year-old along with my parents and sister, Jackie (6). Since I was so young, I only have vague recollections of that journey. I lived in a small town in the southeast of Cuba (Victoria de las Tunas), the jouney for me begin (read the rest of this memory)s at my grandparents home. It was a typical weekend day and I remember all of the grown-ups were crying and they were hugging me so hard. I did not understand why they were acting this way, I would be back the next weekend, as I aways did. I remember after many hugs, waving goodbye to them from a bus. I never saw my grandparents again. This has always been a very painful memory for me, but I am sure it does not compare to what my grandparents went through. I cannot imagine the pain of saying goodbye to a child/ grandchild you know you will never see again.
I remember our house was egged many times, being transferred to what I think was a stadium. The stadium was surrounded by people yelling at us for desserting the revolution, they would also throw things (fruits) at us while they processd the paperwork. I myself ended up with a dark eye as a result of an orange that was thrown at me. What kind of a person would throw food at someone else just for wanting to leave a country? We took several buses to finally arrive in "El Mosquito". I remember telling my mom I did not want to eat the awful unsweeted yogurt, but she told me there was no sugar anywhere to be found. My next memory is of stepping into the ship. I was concentrating real hard because the ship was moving back and forth and I wanted to make sure I did not miss it and fall into the water in between the boat and the port. Next, I only remember my mother sitting indian style with a daughter on each leg. We were not in the freezer, but in a much smaller room, I was so nauseaus. They gave us food (Vienna sausages and such) and just like Juan in the previous story, I have never eaten them again. The smell is enough to make me want to vomit. At some point, I must have fallen asleep from the exhaustion. My father tells me they sent the women/ children to the area they normally keep the shrimp. The men were left outside to fend for themselves. I only have flashes of being in Key West but do remember sitting in a hanger in Opa-Locka waiting for our aunt to pick us up. My sister kept saving all the plastic cups they gave us with water and medicine until a gentleman came up to her and said "you can throw these away, you're not in Cuba anymore".
I love this country and all of the opportunities it has given us. When my mom gets sad thinking about how much suffering she went through (she didn't want to come) and the family she left behind, I try to console her by reminding her that it was not in vain. Her daughters have taken advantage of all the opportunities and we would have never had this life without her "sacrifice".
jose aguiar's memory of Judy Ann I
varco que papa vino de cuba
Yasmin's memory of La Streca
Eventhough I was barely four years old, the day that led to my arrival in Key West will always be the most vivid memory I own.
It all began with a knock at our appartment door, by a soldier, the afternoon of May 23rd. We lived in "La Habana" on "c (read the rest of this memory)alle Hospital." We were given a short time to gather our things. My father was at work and my mother had to get him home immediately. She frantically wrote notes to family we were leaving behind explaining what was happening. All she packed was a bag of food for us and my twin brother's security blanket, which was actually a small pillow. Before we knew it, we were in a vehicle, transporting us (my mother, father, and two brothers) to "El Mosquito."
When we arrived my father was not permitted to stay with us. We were told that he would not be continuing the journey with us. As any terrified wife, my mother refused to stay without him. I remember my father telling her that if she didn't leave the country with us, we were never going to get out. He forced her to leave him behind and promised to find a way to meet us in Flordia.
It was raining and the camp was full of men women and children who had been there for days. We sat under a tree and waited not knowing what would happen next.
Finally, during the night we were placed on a bus with other women and children. The ride was horrific. The bus was stoned by protesters. I remember the windows shattering and hiding under the seats.
When we arrived at the dock we were put in La Streca. (for the past 30 years, I had called it La Estrega.) This was not the boat that my mother was told we would be on. We were waiting for "Water Brother II." Our family in Florida was coming to get us on that boat. But it had made its trip the day before. La Streca was large and had many passengers. We were treated well. The women and children were placed in the hull and fed crakcers and canned vienna sausages. I remember being sea sick the entire voyage. My shirt was thrown over board because I got sick too many times. (not to mention the small pillow) I remember my mother asking a lady with short blonde hair if she would help her with me. I slept in her lap that night. I never even knew her name. I think it was a 13 hour trip eventhough it seemed like an eternity.
The next day, the 24th, We arrived at Key West around mid-day. As the boat was docking, I remember watching a soldier on the dock holding a pair of flip flops. There was a young barefoot girl and boy walking toward him with their mother. The soldier placed the sandals on the little girl's feet as she placed her arms around his neck. I remember thinking, in my innoscence, "Wow, what a great place this is going to be. They give you shoes when you get here!" That memory still makes me smile.
As we walked ashore there were tons of people standing behind a fence yelling. It was a sea of faces and a blur of sounds. Then, all of the sudden my ten year old brother yells out that he sees our aunt. Immediately, there were arms picking me up and kissing me and lots of crying. We had made it, safe and sound. We were home. (Off to Hialeah)
A miracle happened the next day. The phone rang in the kitchen at my aunt's house. My mother picked it up and after a few words she screamed. My father was in Key West! My uncles had gone back that night for him without telling my mother.
After looking back at this ordeal and the past 30 years, I undeniably see the providential hand of God in my life. I give Him all the glory and praise for saving me in more than one way.
neyda diaz sardinas's memory of La Esperanza
Fue mi primera travesia, recuerdo nos quedamos sin comunicacion ni gasolina, pero jamas perdi la fe en Dios.Ya han pasado 30 anos estan los mas allegados aca y disfrutando de mis dos hijos que nacieron en este pais, no puedo pedir nada mas.De las ami (read the rest of this memory)stades que vinimos en ese, lamentablemente perdimos una buena amiga ...que Dios la tiene en su manto......Gracias a todos los que colaboraron para que se hiciera realidad este destino que Dios nos puso en el camino
esther's memory of Beachcomber
dpdrefiero no recordar fue una travesia muy
Nestor Gonzalez's memory of Happy Daze Iii
Vine y llegue tan confundido y con tanto temor que recuerdo todo confuso.En la base de datos aparezco que llegue el 28 de mayo pero no aparece el barco que si recuerdo que tenia la palabra Happy.La mayoria de las personas decian ;yo voy para Texas, y (read the rest of this memory)o voy para Miami ;yo voy con mi papa para California y a mi me preguntaban y yo decia voy para los Estados Unidos;no tenia a nadie en este pais y en esos mismos momentos comprendi que tan grande era la decision que tome en mi vida de venir a otro pais solo sin saber su lengua ,sin esperar quien me fuera a ayudar sin ninguna orientacion y rodeado de personas que nunca conoci.Gracias a Dios todo lo pude superar .
juan miguel pupo rinar's memory of Renegade
hola yo busco a juan miguel pupo rinar ,vino el 7 junio de 1980 ,pero su familia nunca mas supo de el ,en cuba esta aqui en la lista de pasajeros pero nunca mas se supo de el ,JUAN MIGUEL PUPO RINAR
Miguel Angel Fleitas Lopez's memory of Atlantis (cg Hold Safety)
Este es mi padre, fallecio Noviembre 2, 2003 en Boston, MA. Esta enterrado en Miami, Woodlawn in S.W. Original de Matanzas, Cuba, Pueblo Nuevo, calle San Juan de Dios.
El fue separado de nosotros Mayo 18, 1980 por las autoridades americanas y fue (read the rest of this memory)llevado a FortChaffe. Nosotros fuimos a donde mi tio Antonio Barnet que nos pidio.
Mi padre siempre nos conto esa experiencia. Para el esto fue una gran aventura en una nueva vida. Hicimos nuestro hogar en Boston, MA.
En 1991 se mudo para Miami, FL. Ahi estuvo hasta el 2001 y yo me lo traje a Boston, MA ya que su salud habia tomado un camino malo.
Tengo foto de el de aqui en Boston en 1981 cuando salio en el periodico tomando sus clases de Ingles y GED. Se graduo a la edad de 50 y pico.
Siempre lucho por nosotros y nuestro futuros.
Jose Guillermo Munoz Recart's memory of Lady Virgo
El Lady Virgo fue alquilado por mi familia de Tampa con otras 6 familias. Mi tío y mi prima viajaron a Cuba a bordo del barco y esperaron por mi familia por 23 días en el Mariel. Fué un viaje de 12 horas bajo un tiempo bien malo. En medio de la trave (read the rest of this memory)sía el capitan del Lady Virgo rescató a una embarcación que sosobró. Solamente estaba ocupada por una persona que rescatamos. En la maniobra el Lady Virgo por poco se vuelca por las olas que le dieron por una banda.
andres ojeda's memory of Red Cloud
recuerdo que venia sentado en el centro del barco al lado de la chimenea,las olas eran muy grande y yo me quedaba dormido y me aguantaba de la chimenea que estaba caliente y me despertaba.
Mila Sanfeliz's memory of Bob B Ii
Parece que fue ayer.Como ha pasado el tiempo.Agradecer a Dios primeramente por llegar a salvo con mi esposo y mis tres hijos a tierras de Libertad.Agradecerle a este gran pais por sus bondades y acogida para con nosotros.
Una tia de mi esposo Irai (read the rest of this memory)da Medrano llega al Puerto de Mariel para recogernos.Mis agradecimientos a ella tambien y a toda la familia Bertan que participo de una u otra forma al rescatarnos de ese sistema totalitario.En realidad las memorias del viaje se me hacen borrosas,ya que me encontraba en un estado de miedo,la incertidumbre a lo desconocido y el peligro inminente al que nos lanzabamos era como un telon de nieblas en mi mente.Solo recuerdo que mis hijos eran lo principal en esos momentos,el miedo se apodero de mi,pero me mantenia en silencio y mis pensamientos eran invadidos por oraciones y plegarias a Dios por nuestra travesia.
Virginia Cave's memory of Cullen Bay
The length of the Cullen Bay was 70 feet and it drew 9 feel.