“Sometimes, all you need is a map”

It’s 5:45 a.m. on a chilly October morning. The office is dead calm and my cup of coffee has just kicked in. Thirty emails await my response and two handfuls of map projects need to be reviewed. Half of them, of course, are time sensitive. Where to begin?

The project requiring the most urgent attention is our new double-sided Caribbean DestinationMap. At a glance, some elements stand out:

On the eastern Caribbean side, the dive site symbol is too far away from the town, Bávaro, Dominican Republic. Hey! That’s where my wife and I danced the merengue all night on our 30th wedding anniversary.

The city inset map of Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands, seems correct. Oh—those fresh lobster sandwiches!

In Puerto Rico, the town of Luquillo will need to be added. Wow! I remember those brightly colored food shacks lining the road.

On the western Caribbean side, it’s essential that the Mayan ruins of Tulum be shown. Boy, how impressive it was to swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Mayan Riviera with Tulum and the swaying palm trees in the background.

It’s 7:00 a.m. already! Seems like this map has drawn me in. Best to leave reminiscences aside and get on with the business at hand.

From the weather maps on television to the GPS screens that guide us, maps have become an integral part of our daily lives. As I can attest, they can also be a very personal part of our lives—for to relive some of your life’s most pleasurable moments, sometimes, all you need is a map.

National Geographic’s Caribbean DestinationMap will become available later this month. It’s currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com


Juan José Valdés

The Geographer

Director of Editorial and Research

National Geographic Maps



Changing Planet

Meet the Author
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.