Found a couple of gems on surveying and title determination in Commercial Cuba
The greatest difficulty which will be encountered in the purchase of real estate in Cuba is the uncertainty and unreliability of existing surveys, in spite of the existence of elaborate maps which seem to prove the contrary. This unfortunate situation exists with city lots and mining claims as well as in the less serious question of boundaries between farms and plantations, while, in the wilder portions of the island, timber and similar lands are exceedingly difficult to locate with any degree of certainty.
Real estate records have been kept by notaries public for a fixed term of years, and then turned over to the custody of local registry offices. The contents of these registries are now said to be claimed by the Spanish as part of the archives which they intend to take with them to Spain. If, upon the withdrawal of Spanish govermental authority, permission is given to remove official records of this character, it is apparent that serious complications may hereafter arise as to abstracting and determining titles. No doubt the future permanent government of Cuba will provide legal methods for overcoming the embarrassments which are liable to surround real estate transactions from the causes recited; yet, until such action is taken, no one should proceed in such matters without the best local legal advice, and without giving the most careful attention to the location of boundaries. It should be said, however, that if the records remain available, the abstracting of titles will be a comparatively simple matter, as the whole tendency of the past has been for titles to real property to remain continuously in the same families.
Here is Col. A. S. Rowan's description of the popular divisions of the island in 1898:
Popularly the Island is divided into four regions, known respectrively as the Vuelta Abajo(lower turn), Vuelta Arriba(the upper turn), Las Cinco Villas(the five towns), and the Tierra Adentro(the interior Country).
From the meridian of Havana to Cape San Antonio lies the Vuelta Abajo. This is again popularly subdivided by giving the name of Los Partidos de Fuera(the outlying districts), or simply Los Partidos, to the part between the meridian of Havana and that of San Cristobal in Pinar del Rio.
From the meridian of Havana eastward to that of Santa Clara lies the Vuelta Arriba.
From the meridian of Santa Clara to that of Puerto Principe, or even as far east as Holguin, the term Las Cinco Villas is now applied(formerly called La Cuatro Villas, the four towns, from the four towns of Trinidad, Remedios, Sancti Espiritu and Santa Clara). The new designation is taken from the juridictiions of Sagua, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Remedios, and Cienfuegos; but the original "five towns" have since been elevated to the rank of cities.
The Tierra Adentro(the interior) may be roughly defined as lying between the meridian of Caibarian and the extreme eastern point of the island.
It will be seen that there is frequently an overlap in the limits of these popular divisions, but this is of no definite importance. It is extremely convenient,however, to be familiar with these designations, as they are referred to constatntly in writings and in conversation.