Chasing Dreams Down Havana’s Via Blanca Highway

Osmel Almaguer

Crossing the Villa Blanca Highway.  Photo: Caridad
Crossing the Villa Blanca Highway. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Living a stone’s throw away from Havana’s Via Blanca highway means being witness to a constant flow of buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians, of people who set out in search of their dreams every day.

These people are headed to La Habana’s east-laying beaches, the workplaces that crowd the city, the arms of a loved one, or the last place you would think of. Others pass by with the intention of stealing from others or leaving a pet behind on the road.

As I’ve mentioned on other occasions, my house is located just off this highway, at a rather ambiguous area which is neither rural nor urban. There, I grew up to become a person who is neither rural nor urban.

My father, a stalwart military officer from the countryside, a man with an iron will, “knuckled down” and built our house, without really knowing much about how a house is built. At the time, I was a child, being forged in the heat of the morals of the 1980s. The foundations of my personality were being laid.

Like the many people who pass near my house, I too set out every day in search of my dreams to solve the financial problems I have. I go to the city and put my personality, grounded in the morals of the 80s, and my countryside scruples, to work. Then I return home and share the fruits of my work with my family.

Most of the time, the fruits of my work aren’t enough to address all of the problems I have. The foundations of the house have begun to cave in because of the vibrations caused by passing trucks, driven down Via Blanca by people who are also chasing dreams.

Sometimes, one goes through bad streaks where everything seems to break down at the same time: the walls, the doors, the windows, the mirrors, the furniture and the few appliances that are still working. I can’t replace most of these things.

There are corners of the soul that seem to crack like parts of the house do, foundations of one’s personality that begin to cave in under the pressure of the times. And what one manages to put together, again, is not enough.

Though I tell myself the spirit is eternal and matter fleeting, that our society misleads us with trivialities, that I could go off and live in the desert like an ascetic from India, I often wonder whether I am not merely one of those dogs people leave behind on the road, very near my house, a species that has evolved to become dependent on the human race and remain at the mercy of its characteristic meanness.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.