Most of barbacoas (barbecues) in Cuba are indoors and do not involve meat or sausages at all. This is already hard to explain to a Spanish speaker who is also not familiar with this second use of the word, but as I commonly say, Cuba is on one extreme and the rest of the world is on the other extreme regarding most issues. Barbacoas are a true example of it. As soon as you touch Cuban ground, you have to leave your logic inside your suitcase or you will not be able to understand and learn about what happens on that big island and the way things have evolved there.
Houses built at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century in Havana have high ceilings (casas de puntal alto) and floor – to – ceiling windows that allow the much needed flow of the summer breeze. Due to lack of housing in Havana, the increase of the population and people moving to the capital, residents figured that building a second floor within that same room will give them more living space, often turn into bedrooms. Barbacoas are a way to expand your house vertically. They are often made out of wood, including the staircase and the more advanced ones are made out of concrete.
A lot of old houses that belonged in the 1950′s to one single family were divided to fit different people, these type of new “apartments” usually have barbacoas. The whole house and sometimes building is known as “solar”. Buildings from the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s have a more modern construction and measurements so the existence of a barbacoa is impossible.