Feathers, Wine and Salt?

May 2023 – Chile


In early May we celebrated our wedding anniversary in Santiago, Chile with a very lovely sushi dinner.  Mike and Geneva have been married for 19 years!

Then we packed up from our city street parking location and went driving around the area to see a few things.  The first stop was a vineyard with a renowned private collection also known as a private museum.  In Chilean history the wealth and power was held by ranching families with vast expanses of land, huge numbers of cattle and the ability to withstand economic changes.  Add an old family vineyard to the mix and you have the funds to acquire high quality ancient artifacts and build your own museum to display them.  This facility contained items unlike anything we have seen in South America.  I will share just a few of them here.

Sewing kit with combs and adornments.  Plant fiber, cactus spines, feathers. Found in Arica, Chile 900-1470 AC

These items are from a sewing kit.  The person who owned this little box collected items to be sewn as decoration or detail on blankets, shawls, baskets and other items.  Please note the incredible quality of preservation of these small items.  These are not dusty, crumbling items being poorly stored in a major museum.  The curation of this facility was incredible, as you will see in the remaining photos.

Those lampshade shaped things are actually hats.  And the fluffiness and brilliantly colored designs are feathers.  Each of these are still incredibly brightly colored and well preserved.  Amazing quality, amazing care provided.   But the next item really enraptured me.  I will begin with a photo taken from many feet away.  Then work closer and closer so you can see the materials, the detail, the preservation and finally the date of this ancient object. Perhaps you will be as impressed as I was.






This is a ceremonial shawl.  It is made from feathers that are sewn together with plant (cactus) and animal (vicuna) fibers.  It has been preserved and cared for since the time period 900-1460AD.  And yet, somehow this item is still here, on display centuries later.

The vineyards were lovely.  The wine was okay. But I was extremely moved by the quality of the private collection of the Claro family who made this presentation possible.  Here is a link to the Santa Rita Winery, which houses the Museo Andino.  https://www.santarita.com/en/

Many miles away from the vineyards, we arrived at the ocean.  We explored some large boulders, rumored to be affiliated with Incan ceremonies at one time.

And then we settled in to a campsite on a cliff overlooking the Chilean coast and the Pacific Ocean.  The sky and the sea met in a blur, and the winds whipped up the cliff face. keeping us indoors for most of our time at this location.


But our final destination graced us with pleasant weather and interesting lessons on inland salt harvesting.  This area is graced with a saline-rich spring, which is similar to a place we visited in Peru quite some time ago.  Here is the link if you want to view that post.  https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2019/12/23/peru-maras-and-the-amazing-salt-beds/

We settled in to a great campsite on the shores of the salty lake. We had gorgeous birds outside our door and salt beds in the distance.  This was a calm and beautiful place to spend the night.

The dogs enjoyed running along the pathways and deckings in between the various drying beds.  The layout was like a maze, and they enjoyed every moment of it.


The next series shows the drying salt beds from a distance to up close.  The water is very shallow, allowing it to evaporate slowly.  As the water evaporates the salt clusters along the edges of the shoreline.  There it is raked up into the large piles shown above.  Once it is dried it is bagged in various quantities and shipped or sold.

The beautiful birds of these lakes were entertaining to watch.  They landed on the various piers and walkways and surveyed the ponds.  Although the dogs were not interested in the birds, they certainly were nervous about the dogs.

Closing photo set will be a series of Mike and the dogs walking on a piers between the ponds.  Towards the end of their walk, the dogs noticed me in the distance and came running at me!

5 thoughts on “Feathers, Wine and Salt?

  1. Happy Anniversary, amazing photos and discoveries of the “off the beaten path.” Love you all.

  2. Those items at the museum are amazing. I have the Museo Andino marked. Do you have a name for the salt flats? I’ll probably find it in iOverlander. 🙂 Off to check your Peruvian post about that now.

  3. Such a wonderful and insightful posting. I prefer this blog format over a YouTube video that would be skimming over the museum and the salt flats etc. This allows me to take my time with the photos and read over the text. Congratulations on your anniversary and thanks so much for sharing these memories with us.

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