I despise traffic then again who likes it; so as many mornings go to steer clear of the maniac highways, I escape to the back roads whenever it turns ugly in search of harmony and sanity.
Father Sardinias, our beloved priest who passed away a few years ago in a house fire, a lengthy and depressing story to recount, referred to one of our major arteries as Purgatory. The truth is not too far fetched. The rush hour is a demoniac site of major portion and one need to have an enduring fortress, akin to those of Hauk Hogan, to embrace the potent shipment. The widening of the road did not do help much. It is still showered by beaucoup automobiles, their unique drivers and long lines of extreme chaos.
My journey took me through the town of Hialeah, Liberty City, Little Havana, Coral Gables then to Coconut Grove my destination. It is a fairly easy drive considering that it takes me approximately the same amount of time going through the highway. Less aggravation however, minus the usual injudicious drivers but it is expected. Who am I to judge? I once got a $100.00 dollars ticket in North Carolina going 100 mph on interstate 95 just because I wanted to get to my destination yesterday.
For weeks my peeps heard me lambasting about the election. No, not that one between Obama and McCain but the one between Lincoln Diaz Ballart, our long time Republican congressman – I myself have a reason to dislike the dude and it has nothing to do with politics but I digress, and the Democrat – I was not even aware of his political affiliation, Raul Martinez, the beloved but tainted long ex- Hialeah Mayor. Two Cuban Americans in their own rights, fighting for the same one Congress seat and it wasn’t pretty.
To understand the story, one needs to understand the history; the passion of what is Hialeah.
Hialeah is its own brand and has its unique flavor. It is an augmentation of embedded cultural settlement, an enigmatic and perplex town indicative of Cuba in American. If one cite Hialeah, good, bad or/and the ugly, aside from Little Havana, it denotes no pond intended Cuban Americans. So, without giving too much of their colorful characters, they were two candidates outstanding or not, and sons of Cuba, and the fever pitch could not have been higher.
Everyone was stalking for position and it was brazen. The laundry baskets were full and unloading freckles of soap and water mustering creative mammography.
The ads were colorful. One injected fraud, the other responded with fraud. One injected macaroni and the other cheese; one injected that the other’s nose is a mile long, the other injected that the other was wicked. And so they went on like table tennis and my head kept flipping from side to side, going like a yoyo.
The festivities did not stop there; it extended to their constituents with everyone positioning for territory. Their passion depicted in their front lawns, and their car’s and tracks (big, small of every shape and form) bumpers. The best two one’s for me were a small sign on the middle of a big trash truck – it was so small almost invisible to the naked eye, and the big flaggy waving on the back of an open van, and huge truck with the candidate’s name splashed all over.
The scenes reminded me of Christmas decoration and a boxing match. Everyone gesticulated for position in the form of posters: big or small. In one corner were Raul Martinez, Obama Biden and the other Lincoln Diaz Ballart. McCain ballots.
Posters were mounted not apart from each other but staked like sardines, like aunts and their queen: one after another in a margarita mix. It was impressive and interesting unlike no other. I drove around surrounded neighborhoods and their passions were not effusive as that of Hialeah. It rained posters. It ate posters. It breathed posters. You blinked and it was still raining posters.
The same zeal and fervor that resonated Hialeah residents, impregnated me, moving me to chronicle the fixture in pictures.
I set sail loaded with a digital camera to do the irrational: driving while taking pictures. Yeah me, miss perfect braking the rules. I took the camera with me the previous day only to realize that the battery had not been charged. I was obviously disappointed but it did not deter me from my mission.
I headed to it again the day after. I summoned the road and made it mine, canvassing every corner for the torrential pageantry of signs. I drove around snapping pictures here and there as they came into view enthusiastic about my goods. It was not the best and wisest thing to do whilst mindful of the ominous road but I did.
I recall browsing the neighborhood for one last picture and just kept on going and going to the point that I missed my turn. It did not register with me that I was way, way off when I found myself under the I95 bridge at the opposite end of the city. I must have gotten so absorbed in whatever I was thinking at the time that it completely drove me into a doom. It blindsided me.
I came to notice that the environment was different and that the usual ocean of small businesses was not there. It was replaced by a sea of unusual greenery and well-tailored, and manicured lawns. It only took the town’s welcome sign for me to realize that I was fifteen minutes off my course and entering a neighboring city. It shook me! I felt like I had woken from a deep sleep. I was shaken by the whole incident. It was a scary moment to say the least, one that made me pause, one that made me breathe heavily. When did I end up there? How did I drive miles and miles without noticing that I was off course? How was I so blindsided that I did not realize I had tipped the pot? The water was leaking everywhere and I still did not feel the grip of it.
I pondered and pondered about the crack as I drove back. The conclusion I came to was that I must have submersed myself deeply into my thoughts and unconsciously kept driving. The unconscious part, that’s what makes me cringe and hide away in a cage or behind the gauze. I needed to shield away my horror but could not find a cool enough refrigerator to house it, and chose instead to hang from an iceberg. Still, it did not cool off my brain temperature.
There are no answers, there are no excuses, there are no basis for what transpired other then I was very fortunate and that I nodded off to lala land. I could have gotten into an accident and/or a long list of things could have happened but thankfully, none of it transpired; I did not jeopardize anybody. In the end, after all the nastiness and million of dollars injected, the incumbent kept his office and the challenger succumbed to the reality of his own demise and evaporated just as the signs, as soon as the contest was over.