Adiós, Chile!

It seems like we just got here, but non. It’s been two weeks and it’s time to go home. As you read this, I am probably engaged in an in-flight marathon of Marvel Comics movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Captain America: Civil War; Captain America: It’s Mueller Time!

After leaving the desert, we flew to Santiago, and then drove to Valparaiso, a port city of approximately 500,000 residents, thousands of stray dogs,* and 45 hills. It felt so good to be back at sea level . . . our natural comfort zone.

We stayed at a small hotel on Cerro Alegre named Casa Higueras.

This is the view from our balcony.

We can see the working port and ships of the Chilean Navy

We were woken by an earthquake on our first morning in Valparaiso — 6.2 on the Richter Scale, but centered approximately 225 miles away. Our bed vibrated, waking us up at 7:20am. No one seemed to be alarmed, so there was nothing to do but get up and start the day.

The Photographer is always keen to speak with residents who are not hospitality workers when we travel. I suggested that he ask our travel agent to find us a journalist or writer who might be prevailed upon to spend a half-day telling us about Chilean politics and economic history.

Our excellent guides, Reni and José

The agency did one better; they connected us with Phototour — a small business that has created tours of the city that combine walking with with historical narrative, conversation, and historic photos. Such a treat for anyone interested in really digging into the history, politics, economy, and culture of Valparaiso and Chile more broadly.

The day after our walking tour, we escorted ourselves around some of the hills, visiting, among other things, Pablo Neruda’s house on Cerro Florida. It’s an eccentric structure filled with curiosities, furnishings, and art of great personal interest and meaning to the poet. To me, however . . . hodge-podge. The Photographer loved it, which makes me wonder how our apartment will look if I pre-decease him. I suppose that my elegant, cozy, coherent scheme will be out and This-N-That will be in. At least I won’t be around to see it.

We took some photos of ourselves, and helped others take theirs.

This innocent family unknowingly asked the worst photographer in the world to take their picture; I compensate for lack of skill with enthusiasm

Then, there was trade exploration and economic stimulus. Or, put another way, the Directrice went looking for things. I found a charming shop for clothes and jewelry, Bazar La Pasion, where I purchased a chic necklace and a witty ring.

Discussing many things with the shop owner/clothing designer, Carolina Arias
Arranging the chic necklace

Confirming the adjustability of the witty ring
My delightful acquisitions; ring nestled inside necklace

In case you are wondering how well my vacation wardrobe worked, I would say, very well.

I wore two of the dresses one time each and wore the two other dresses three times each. I didn’t wear the black cardigan, the black smart jacket, the black floral blouse, the jeans, or the black flats; I don’t know why. Everything else was worn at least once, if not more.

These khakis worn three times; Doc Martens were greatly admired in various locations

The dots on this blouse remind me of champagne bubbles

Just before dinner, we meandered back to our hotel passing by an important bakery that I had taken note of during our first pass through the neighborhood. I am very good at finding beautiful bakeries.

Here, I am wearing an over-sized (possibly just too big) silk blouse under my cape-back blouse. I bought the blouse from Gilt and was dismayed when it arrived and I saw how big it was. But I soon realized that it was perfect for layering — under another top or a sweater — because the silk is so lightweight and easily crushed.

Do you see what I mean?

Here, I am thinking of eclairs

Here are the khakis and jacket with a white tunic and floral camisole underneath. You’ve seen them before. The short jacket gives the tunic a little shape.

Comfortable and pleasing
Hoping that sunscreen does not ruin tunic; we’ll see

The Photographer takes lots of candid snaps of me when we are on vacation — I think I am mostly providing scale for his visual vacation memories. Periodically he will call, “Saint Sebastian,” which means that I am to adopt the look of a religious martyr.

St. Sebastian is a look I have mastered

Remember the green dress I mentioned in the second vacation post? Here are a few more photos.

I ordered this dress from Cuyana one day before our trip and I am so pleased with it. Tres femme. Indeed, a docent in the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art approached me in one of the galleries, gesturing with her hands and smiling. I couldn’t follow her entirely — I caught the word “hermosa” — but I think her point was, “You look elegant. Thank you for dressing up for the museum.” When I apologized and told her — in very poor Spanish — that I did not speak Spanish well, she laughed, gave me a light hug and a kiss on the cheek. Such warmth!

Thank you, Cuyana

Perhaps you can see the drape of the skirt, with its loose pleats, better in this photo?

The backdrop for these last few photos are from our final stop in the vineyard region between Valparaiso and Santiago.

Though I am not a drinker, I like vineyards because they are such pretty places. We stayed at Hotel La Casona de Vina Matetic for two nights. The primary purpose of our stay was resting, but even here, there were activities planned.

We did not swim because it was 60 degrees here, but I did admire the elegance of the pool.


Although neither of us has ridden a horse since the age of 12, The Photographer indulged my wish to sit on a horse and walk in super slow motion around the property under the watchful eye of an experienced guide.

Grinning like an idiot because I am on a horse! Horse was bigger than he looks in this photo

The vineyard is located in a large property that includes a number of operations: diverse farming as well as cows and sheep, supervised by herding dogs and many barnyard cats. And monitored by at least two foxes. We spied this one sunning himself in the late afternoon.

The Photographer stalks a very tame fox; to be clear, the fox is not part of the farm operation — he has his own agenda

* Actually, the dogs are not strays, per se. They are quiltros, dogs that are not owned by individuals but rather tended by communities. They generally live outside, but are fed by businesses and individuals and cared for by local veterinarians. They are companionable and docile (indeed, better behaved than many U.S. pets!) and I wanted to bring all of them home with me.

13 thoughts on “Adiós, Chile!”

  1. You pair seem like nerdy fun! Also intrepid.
    Thanks for sharing your experience in Chile.
    That Cuyana dress is terrific. I’m definitely feeling kinship with the modest vibe these days.

    • We are a bit nerdy. Despite my whimsical tendencies and super-high interest in clothing, I remain a History Major at heart and always want to get the low-down on politics/economics/cultural history. I ask what must seem like strange questions of everyone who gets pulled into conversation with me. “Tell me about your largest export markets and products. How are you handling ownership of mineral wealth? What impact has immigration had local dialects and colloquial speech?”

      • I’m the same way when traveling–so many questions and much curiosity! 🙂
        Regarding the dogs–I noticed the same thing several years ago with dogs and cats in Istanbul. And then more recently I saw a documentary on the subject called Kedi (which, as a cat enthusiast, you might enjoy!).

  2. What a gorgeous post ! May I say how much I’ve admired your travel wardrobe ? The museum-going dresses, the quirky but sensible shoes, the non-technical hiking/ riding gear, the signature Directrice layers … I know, in an abstract sort of way, that some folks can go 2 weeks in a carry-on bag with quick-dry items in black, a puffy jacket and a stylish scarf. Clearly, you are not those folks and on the basis of this trip : Directrice 1, carry-on washables 0.

    • May you praise me? OF course, MC Bontemps! I will admit to one relatively new travel vice/luxury. I’ve started to let the hotel do some of my laundry (underwear, pajamas, tee shirts — nothing complicated) half way through the trip. Although the charge per item is high, it’s less than one fancy dinner out and it makes more room in my bag for fun clothes. Part of the reason I get a little dressed up when I travel abroad — and I realize this is bonkers — is because I feel like I am an ambassador for the U.S.

  3. I never would have thought to style khakis in such a casual manner, much less take them on vacation, but you look perfect. I do try to avoid jeans when traveling internationally, but I’ve never managed to look as comfortable and chic as you do. I need to do some more planning. Also, that Marvel trilogy you list is one of my favorites, too.

  4. In reply to a request for our itinerary: three nights in Santiago at the Cumbres Lastarria, in the Lastarria neighborhood, full of fine little restaurants; four nights in the Atacama Desert near San Pedro de Atacama, at the Alto Atacama; three nights in Valparaiso at the Casa Higueras; then two nights in the wine country about an hour south of Valparaiso, at the Casona Vina Matetic. Our tour was arranged by Jacada Travel, which did an excellent job of setting up our flights, guides, and car trips inside the country, and of answering various questions along the way. They especially outdid themselves in setting us up with Phototour in Valparaiso, whose young proprietors talked with us in depth about the Pinochet era of military dictatorship in 1973-1990 and Chile’s resumption of democratic rule thereafter. The legacy of the Pinochet era still lingers in its constitution, written to favor the right and its wealthy backers, but today Chile is politically and economically one of the most stable and best-off countries in South America. Reni and José nonetheless spoke in candor about Chile’s problems from their perspective: entrenched inequality, high student debt, the difficulty of getting ahead in traditional professions, the rise of a democratically elected right wing. These are global problems, we agreed, not just Chilean or USA problems. It was fascinating to talk with them, and I’m grateful we had the opportunity to talk at length with young Chileans instead of just tromping around looking at things.

  5. Hello Directrice – I am a new reader and although I don’t comment much on blogs, yours is so fabulous I have to leave a comment. I stumbled upon you and now it takes all my self discipline not to just sit and binge read your posts. Instead, I reward myself after a job well done with a click on a random post. Love your writing, love your style. You are incredibly inspiring! Although I love clothes, and like to have just the right thing to put on in the morning, I despise shopping, even internet shopping. I can be incredibly lazy about it, like someone who loves to eat but can’t work up the energy to cook. However, I find over the past 2 weeks of treating myself to your posts, you are inspiring me to put a little more energy into freshening up my wardrobe. Thank you! Welcome back after vacation and hope your reentry is not too painful.

    • A comment like this makes my day, M! Truly. How DiD you find this blog? I am always curious. You are very wise to ration the content — you really will feel ill if you binge and there are nearly 400 posts to read. If you haven’t found it yet, you should look for the “key set” to find four entries that summarize my . . . guiding principles? Just type “key set” into the search dialogue box at the upper right of the page.

      • Short story: A blog called Corporette.

        Long story: Many years (8? 9?) ago, I used to read Corporette. After a couple of years I stopped, as it wasn’t the content I was looking for either in the posts or the comments. However, a couple weeks ago, I popped back in, to see if it had been updated in format or substance. It had not, but in the comments of that day’s post, someone (not me!) said, I’m looking for a new fashion blog. And someone else said, try Directrice. I had not heard of you, so I googled the Directrice, and delightfully found myself reading about your Chilean adventures. I have been so delighted with and inspired by your blog, and it was such a random way to find you, that either it is a small world indeed or the universe was giving me a nudge to step it up a bit. Possibly both.


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