Changing Planet

CUBA ON MY MIND: “At the corner of Yield and One Way”



National Geographic’s 2011 new map of Cuba

Shortly after the posting of this blog, all 3,000 copies of National Geographic’s new map of Cuba will have come off the presses. It has been our intent that all blogs in this series have given you some insight into what it takes for us to make a detailed political map. On a personal level, you have also heard the varied experiences of those that contributed to this map’s construction. From Julie Ibinson’s “Hitting the Cartographic Jackpot,” Rosemary Daley’s “Armchair Traveling,” Debbie Gibbon’s “Creating a New Classic Map,” and Maureen Flynn’s “An Editorial Tour of the Island.”

If you have followed our Cuba on My Mind blogs, you are now most likely wondering why the final entry in this series is so oddly subtitled. Well, it has to do with Valdés family lore and, in many ways, with the lore of all National Geographic cartographers. For you see these road signs guided me to where I am today.

Back in 1962, having newly arrived in Miami, my father got lost in the city one day. He phoned me in hopes of getting clearer directions. When asked where he was, all he could tell me was that he was “At the corner of yield and one way.” Were it not for a simple road map, I would not have been able to guide him home that day.

The staff cartographers at National Geographic have all in one way or another experienced a similar seminal moment where that first contact with a map would ultimately guide them to their lifelong vocation. So, whether directly, or indirectly, every globe, atlas, map, or map graphic we produce, we produce with the intent of helping you metaphorically get to and from all of those places on this earth located “At the corner of yield and one way.”

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps


Read All Posts in This Series


CUBA ON MY MIND: Hitting the Cartographic Jackpot

CUBA ON MY MIND: Armchair Traveling

CUBA ON MY MIND: Creating a New Classic Map

CUBA ON MY MIND: An Editorial Tour of the Island

CUBA ON MY MIND: “At the corner of Yield and One Way”

Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and National Geographic Maps' Director of Editorial and Research. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As NG Map's Director of Editorial and Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products.
  • Richard Tranter

    Great effort!

    Possibly portends the opening of Cuba to the US.

  • jvaldes

    Thanks, Richard.

    What ever the Fates have in store for Cuba and Cubans everywhere, hopefully we have made the map from which
    to guide them.

    Juan José Valdés

  • Sergio Capablanca

    I came across this blog while conducting an article search about Cuba published in the November 2012 edition.
    I have been a map collector for more than two decades and I am keenly aware of the meticulous and intense work in bringing them to life and, National Geographic surely takes no short cuts in producing them.
    It gives me great pride that a Cuban-American works at such renowned institution. It has been a long and bittersweet exile, which, by the way, has taken us all over the world map, perhaps with the exception of Antarctica (too cold for Caribbeans).
    Best wishes in your future endeavors.

    • Juan Valdes


      So very pleased that you enjoyed my blog. Being exiled from one’s country is
      indeed a difficult thing. However, unlike some of my countrymen, I have had
      the good fortune of returning twice. Each time I’ve returned to the states,
      Luis Aguile’s lyrics take ever greater meaning:

      “Nunca podré morirme, mi corazón no lo tengo aquí. Alguién me está esperando, me está aguardando que vuelva aquí”.


      Juan José

  • Sergio Capablanca

    Yes, indeed, as in José Martí’s words from the “Con todos y para el bien de todos” speech given in Tampa, Florida on Nov. 26, 1891: ¡Es el sueño mío, es el sueño de todos; las palmas son novias que esperan; y hemos de poner la justicia tan alta como las palmas!
    The homeland… An awaiting bride.
    Un cordial saludo

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