Six Cuban refugees rescued by a Danish freighter after nearly five harrowing days at sea were safe in Miami Saturday, talking about their adventure in shark-infested waters.
The two men, a woman, and two young boys and a girl arrived in Miami aboard the freighter Valencia Friday."If I had it to do again, I'd go, but I wouldn't take the children," said Alicia Felina Valdes Soto, 25. She said there was too much danger for youngsters.
The group was picked up Thursday by the freighter only about 10 miles off Cuba's north coast, which they had left on their inner tube raft Sunday night.
In the meantime they endured stormy weather, waves and tides that kept pushing them back toward land and circling sharks.
They lost all their provisions to the waves the second day out and survived on sea water.
"There were a thousand problems. The sun, the hunger," said Nelson Miranda de la Torre, 32.
He said although there were sharks in the area, none attacked the boat. All aboard the boat suffered severe sunburn and had to be treated at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Relatives in Hialeah had been told about their plans and spent $2,000 on an expensive air search. But they said the closest they got to Cuba was 14 miles.
"It was starting to get a little depressing," said Bertha Rodriguez, a relative. "All you can see out there is sharks, porpoises and waves."
Aboard the raft with Miranda de la Torre and Valdes were Carlos Guil-lermo Leiva Suarez, 36; his daughters Mary, 12, and Jean Mary Leiva, 14; and Jose Luis Alvarez, 8. Carlos Leiva said they went to sea Sunday from Santa Cruz del Norte, 30 miles east of Havana, and the trouble started almost immediately. Currents kept sending them back toward ashore, and on Monday afternoon they lost their belongings.
"A lot happened to us., I didn't have any hope. I thought I was going to die," Alicia Valdes said.
"For three days all we drank was saltwater," Leiva said.