In the Sierra de la Gran Piedra mountains close to Santiago are the remains of 171 nineteenth and early twentieth century coffee plantations. What remains are the ruins of the owners’ houses and the large open area used for processing the beans. The plantations were worked by slaves and their huts are long gone.
I visited a restored house called La Isabelica reached by a steep and winding mountain road, the last bit of which was unpaved. At one point on the way my taxi had to stop to let the engine cool down and to top up the radiator from a stream.
Cofffee plants need to grow in the shade and here they were planted within the forest. My taxi driver helped me identify these coffee berries growing in the garden of the museum.
The large sunken area in front of the house, the secadero, is served by water channels as the berries were soaked in water to remove the outer flesh before the inner beans were spread out to dry.
The house has a wooden first floor over a stone ground floor which contains workshops and stores. This one has been furnished in affluent period style. The kitchen was in a separate building close by.
Since the drying floor would not make a very thrilling model, I built the house in Lego instead.