Although we did not stay in the largest of the preserved buildings, we were housed in very attractive substitutes, dating from 19th century. Known as “casa particulares,” these are private homes that are permitted by the government to rent out rooms to visitors on a daily basis. They offer almost complete privacy to renters, as the owners abandon the homes once their guests have registered. They leave behind assistants such as Yanerquis, or Yema, to maintain the casa and cook tasty breakfasts.
In these homes, one could easily be living in a Spanish or Italian villa. They are exceptionally comfortable and filled with art, artifacts, and bric-a-brac that speak to the desire of the 19th-century residents of Trinidad, with their wealth built on sugar and slave labor, to be understood as European. The pictures of the interior of one of these homes, speak for themselves as to the very high standard of living enjoyed by the people of 19th-century Trinidad — and by their successors today. While poverty can be seen everywhere in Cuba, even in this Socialist economy it is possible to see families enjoying an exceptional quality of life.