We went on a tour of Josie's house in Havana. Josie's house is a sprawling mansion of easily 5,000 sq ft of living space. At the time of the revolution, it was common for anyone living in a residence to be assigned the property by the government. Often, if the rich owners had left and the servents remained, they were given the deed to the property! Seems like a good thing, but for modest folks to be given that type of financial burden was a huge strain. Most of the time, these mansions were subdivided and multiple generations of many families would cram into the houses. Josie somehow managed to keep the house private, despite the hardship. To this day she remarks how ridiculously big the house is for her. As beautiful as this house may seem, there are signs of it's long-term decay everywhere. Peeling paint, chipped stone, worn banisters, and a weathered patina cover every inch of the house's interior and exterior. Much like Josie. Both she and this house have aged. Seeing old photos, you could tell she was a stunner in her day. Piercing blue eyes and a very comely face. Just like the house was once grand and opulent, a tribute to the thriving pre-revolution Cuba, it's now in a serious state of decay. I found it fascinating to see both she and the house in similar states of aging - that parallel between she and her house was palpable and melancholy.
Josie lived in the house with her husband, a former Chemical engineer, who passed away last year. Now, just she and her dog occupy the massive stone-clad monument to Havana's former glory. This house is such a realistic representation of Cuba. Time stopped and so did the upkeep for her house, much like the upkeep of Cuba's infrastructure. Faded, the structure and memories of the past lay about modestly. These days, Josie gives house tours which hopefully supplement her modest means. It was an honor to meet Josie and spend time in her home.