The Valle de los Ingenios, a sprawling, open valley bordered by the eastern slopes of the Sierra del Escambray, was once one of Cuba’s most productive agricultural areas. In its heyday it was crammed with dozens of the sugar estates and refineries on which Trinidad built its wealth during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today just one functioning refinery remains, but the remnants and ruins of the manor houses and mills that occupied the estates remain dotted throughout the valley, the most intact example at Manaca-Iznaga. You can get there on a sporadically functioning steam train from Trinidad, dating from the early twentieth century, which pulls rickety wooden carriages on an hour-long ride to the estate through rich layers of rural countryside, rattling and puffing between thick bush and small forests, then into open, lush grazing land and maize fields, with green hills and low mountains forming the backdrop. When the steam engine is in disrepair they use a diesel engine instead.

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