National Geographic : 1947 Jan
Cuba-American Sugar Bowl Sugar Research Foundation Giant Rollers Cut, Crush, and Squeeze Juice from the Stalks in a Continuous Operation Conveyor belt at the far end dumps the cane upon revolving knives, which cut it into chips. Then it passes along to the shredders, which tear it, and to the crushers, which break it and express a large part of the juice. As the crushed cane advances through the mill train, water is sprinkled on to extract additional juice. Then a complicated refining process produces sugar and molasses (page 40). this circular harbor that Velasquez picked it for the first Spanish settlement, only 20 years after its discovery (Plate XXII). Columbus's Tracks at Baracoa Our taximan took us through the sleepy town, out to the point at the harbor entrance where Columbus's men put up a huge cross. From the crumbling Spanish fort marking the spot we marveled at the bowllike port. "Baracoa belongs among the strange and curious of geographic phenomena," said Dr. Massip. "See that curved beach with the fishing boats drawn up? It was formed by the current which, sweeping through the head lands, circles the harbor and deposits sand around the rim. The river should empty across the way, but it is blocked by the beach and flows behind it to emerge on this side. Columbus reported it so deep 'a galley could enter.' "Cortes, as a young man, was imprisoned on a ship here by Velisquez because he refused to marry his mistress," he continued. "The future Conquistador escaped by jumping over board. Eddylike currents, after nearly drown ing him, cast him up on the beach. Eventually he did marry the girl." Columbus greatly admired the Indians' gaily painted war canoes but not their lack of bravery. The Tainos ran away at the brandishing of a Castilian sword. The Dis coverer was disappointed at the lack of gold and spices. Velasquez, finding Baracoa too isolated, soon transferred the capital to Santiago, where it remained until it was moved to Havana. A few years ago Baracoa was a prosperous coconut and banana town. Severe blights at tacked its palms and banana groves. Bunches of big fat bananas are still exported to the United States, but the quantity has diminished.