As we enter Ms. Antonia’s house we find her youngest grandson taking a bath on a pot in the main corridor of the house. The hot weather in Santo Domingo during the summer can be very strong so the roofless corridor is definitely the best place in the house to freshen up.
This house belonged to Antonia’s in-laws, she moved there 30 years ago to live with “the father of her children.” She was 22 years old back then and living with her family in another part of Gualey. They decided to settle into the area on the backyard in a simple wooden house constructed by her father in law.
They had three children: Rafael, Inocencia and Yohan. The youngest never met his father because he was born after his father fled to Puerto Rico for economic problems. He went on a raft and never returned. Since then Antonia has occupied the mother and father figure. The two elder children are grown, Rafael has a son, Inocencia has two and although they do not live with Antonia, they frequently visit.
Antonia recalls that when she arrived to the house it was all made of wood. Then a government project arrived and helped her father-in-law to replace the wooden walls with cement block walls. When her in-laws died, their daughter restored and painted the house. Antonia tells us that although her in-laws’ other children do not live at home, sometimes they come “to remember their old folks, they come and sit and hang out here.”
The entrance of Antonia’s house is separated from her former in-laws’ through a corridor. The corridor use to be covered but they removed the roof to allow more air circulation in the house. Inside there is a kitchenette and two beds. It has a tiny balcony overlooking the neighbor’s yard that also facilitates ventilation. Rain has damaged the wood in one of the walls and material of the ceiling. Antonia hopes to repair it as soon as she manages to obtain some money.
Antonia feels comfortable at her home. In his own words: “In it (the house) I have made my life. I come tired, I lie there and I feel good, I feel great.” That peace can felt in our visit as her grandchildren play happily no matter how simple or humble the house is.