The drive between Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad has several interesting stopping points to check out.
If driving in a foreign country is not for you, most of the casa particular owners in Trinidad or Sancti Spiritus would be able to put you onto a driver that you could hire for the day to visit several of the sites dotted around the Valle de los Ingenios (valley of the sugar mills).
Near the village of Caracusey is a hacienda built in 1859 by Jose Mariano Borrell y Lemus.
Borrell was a wealthy sugar merchant who lived in Trinidad with his family.
The Guaimaro hacienda was his 'bachelor pad'.
It is said that he had over fifteen illegitimate children with several of the slave women on his property. Little wonder, perhaps, that his wife and eldest son, plotted to kill him at one point!
Their family tree was full of early deaths, curious marriage arrangements (including one aunt and nephew pairing off) and crazy children.
Lots of wealth and power did not a happy family make!
Borrell commissioned Italian painter Daniele Dell'Aglio to paint the stunning frescoes that adorn the main rooms here (as well as his home in Trinidad).
Guaimaro was recently restored (2014) during the 500th anniversary celebrations in Cuba.
Prior to this, the hacienda was home to several families that had been relocated there after losing their own homes in a hurricane. The frescoes had been painted over when they moved in.
The restorers did a tremendous job, to bring them back to what we can see now.
The chapel (below) is the only one of it's kind in Cuba.
It is attached to the side of the main house and contains an original jewel-encrusted book stand and bible. Only in Cuba would this amazing relic be allowed to sit out in the open with no protection!
Various remnants of the sugar making industry are dotted around the yard.
Our guide only spoke Spanish but a very helpful German couple translated the guide's spiel into English for us (how useless did we feel?)
A sheet with an English version of the guide's talk was provided (that we found out later was translated by our Australian host in Trinidad) which was useful, but basic. It was obvious that the guide had much more to say about the house & it's history than was on the notes.
It was a fascinating glimpse into Cuban life past and present.
The power and privilege of the Spanish landlords and their use of slavery to make it all possible. Followed by modern Cuba commandeering these spaces for practical purposes, until the promise of tourist dollars and a growing sense of pride in their own history prompted renovation and restoration.
This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.