While Yoenis Cespedes was putting together an impressive rookie season — hitting .292 and smashing 23 home runs — last year as the A’s rallied to win the division, the outfielder was going through harrowing times off the field as his family attempted to leave Cuba and join him in the United States. Cespedes journey from Cuba the year before went relatively smooth, though it did have its share of problems along the way. The journey for his mother and relatives, however, included unimaginable hardships that sound like something out of “Survivor” or “Cast Away.”
In August last year, Cespedes’ family, by this time with residency established in the Dominican Republic, attempted to make their way by boat to Turks and Caicos, hoping to elude Cespedes’ former agent, whom they did not trust. Along the way, however, their boat ran into problems, as the Chronicle explains in a fascinating profile of their trying expedition:
The voyage lasted 12 hours and ended short. At 6 a.m., the two drivers stopped at an uninhabited islet, little more than a patch of sand much smaller than a baseball field, due to rough seas and fear of a helicopter flying overhead.
The drivers refused to press on. But their passengers did not want to turn back, figuring they would be rescued soon enough. So they disembarked, with the drivers promising to call for help when they returned to the Dominican.
Céspedes’ relatives had a half dozen small water bottles and larger containers of water and formula for [Cespedes' cousin's daughter] Yaenis, who was 6 months old. They made a tent from a tarp left by the boat drivers and shaded the baby beneath it.
When they got hot, they dipped in the water. At night, to fight the cold, they lit a fire. And they huddled together in the sand to sleep.
“By the second day,” Céspedes’ cousin Aliuska Pérez, 29, recalled, “we were losing hope.”
To eat, they killed and cooked an iguana and a seagull. Neither was in the slightest edible. A couple crabs caught by the group were all they had to serve their hunger. By their third day on the island, they were too weak to speak. Meantime in the States, Cespedes was left on edge as his family’s status was unknown: “Those three days, I knew nothing.”
On the third day, however, help finally came in the form of a yacht that took them to Turks and Caicos, where a prominent family helped them settle. But the group ran into even more problems when several members were held in detention under suspicion of human trafficking. Cespedes suspects his former agent might have played a part in their capture. After some intervention from the UN, the family members were eventually released. In March the group made it to South Florida and finally, after over a year, reunited with Cespedes.
Now, if that’s not made into at least a Lifetime movie, I guess Hollywood isn’t as predictable as I think it is.