Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba

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.

La Isabelica - owner's house

La Isabelica - owner's house

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.

La Isabelica - coffee berries

La Isabelica - coffee berries

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.

La Isabelica - secadero

La Isabelica - secadero

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.

La Isabelica - interior of owner's house

La Isabelica - interior of owner's house

Since the drying floor would not make a very thrilling model, I built the house in Lego instead.

Lego La Isabelica - owner's house

Lego La Isabelica - owner's house

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