Cachivache & Cachantún: Antiques as bits of a life (Photo Essay)

I love antique shops–not that fancy, nose-in-the-air kind with all the fru-fru porcelain and don’t-touch crystal and wax-em-up furniture. No. I mean the little mom-and-pop corner shops with crazy assortments of real-folks stuff that was truly used by someone, somewhere, once upon a time.

Typewriter © Margaret Snook 2011

I mean the kind of shop that has all manner of stuff–the fabulous and the forlorn, the funky and the sublime, the valuable and the junk–all hodge-podged together in an inimitably haphazard arrangement that could never be repeated anywhere else.

Cachantún & cachivachi © Margaret Snook

Cachantún & Cachivache. Cachantún is a well-known brand of mineral water in Chile. "Cachivache" is a rather self-explanatory Spanish noun that means a mishmash of this and that, gadgets, and generally meaningless stuff.

Where did all these things come from?

White hat & lamp © Margaret Snook

Things once held dear, now out of context, out of style, abandoned in a surreal waiting room.

Blue-eyed, golden-haired doll © Margaret Snook

Waiting for a new home. To receive new context. To connect with someone–some place–new.

Tea Time © Margaret Snook 2011

Tea Time

We stumbled upon such a waiting-room-for-things kind of a place on the upper road between Concón and Reñaca, along Chile’s central Pacific coast, in a quirky, owner-made house that grew where it had to to accommodate the growing collection of stuff that owners Maru Maru Palma and her husband Carlos Salcedo lug in and proud buyers tote back out.

Maru Maru Palma, owner of Arte Mitahue antiques © Margaret Snook

Maru Maru Palma, owner of Arte Mitahue antiques

Properties, antiques, typical Chilean handcrafts, events, oil paintings, curios, and we buy antiques, boasts their card.


Maru Maru–a name that suits her better than the “María Eugenia” that her mother chose–leads the way down jam-packed aisles, flipping switches as room after room springs to light and life.

Lamp shade with beads © Margaret Snook 2011

Lampshade with beads

She makes our day with her stories of a lifetime in sales, of past customers, of future dreams. Weaving bits of her own life into the now-contextless fragments of so many others, as we move among things whose origins we will never know.

Teapot and green leaves © Margaret Snook 2011

Tarnish & greenery

Who? I wonder. Where?
Why? How?  More questions than answers…
Each new discovery with its unknowable past…

Estribos- Chilean stirrups © Margaret Snook 2011

Well-worn typical Chilean carved wooden stirrups

And then I spot it.
The thing that must be mine.
The thing that would become part of our space.
Practical? Not at all. Didn’t matter. We had already bonded.
And Maru knew it.
And her husband gently packed it into our car…

Turquoise-blue produce scale © Margaret Snook

Old-time scales were once found in every corner market. This one now holds our fruit--and a place of honor--in our home.

Arte Mitahue
Av. Concón Reñaca 4675
Concón, Chile
arte.mitahue (a)
F: 56-32-252-1595

This post just happens to fit the July 8 WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge topic “Old Fashioned” See what others have to offer on the topic here.

**This post was “Freshly Pressed” on June 9, 2011!

Other Cachando Chile posts that have been Freshly Pressed in the past:

Confessions of a Closet Accordion Lover

Language Play & Politics a la Chilensis


76 responses to “Cachivache & Cachantún: Antiques as bits of a life (Photo Essay)

  1. I LOVE places like this! Will visit next time I’m up near Reñaca. Thanks, Margaret!

  2. Hi Rose-yes do! If you’re coming from Viña along the coast, turn in Reñaca to go up the hill. I think that’s called Los Ositos. You’ll go past the big Santa Isabel (on the right), and just as you’re getting to the outskirts of Concón, you’ll see it on the left. Hard to miss. Three stories chock full of STUFF! and more stuff spilling out into the parking lot. Brass beds and Neruda-esque figure heads the last time we went by. And then let us know what “spoke” to you!

  3. I adore old scales and my wife loves old typewriters. Great shots. Although, old dolls can be a bit creepy. Perhaps I’ve just seen too much horror.

  4. Great photos! Good article – THANKS!

  5. Looks like my kind of place … you can practically smell the seductive, musty scent just looking at these photos. Love it!

    Thank you for sharing — I only wish I could visit…


  6. Love this store! Wish I was a little closer than here, in NY.

    I love old things and giving them a new home. I recently scored a few great finds at the Toronto flea market while visiting, one of which now sits beside my keyboard….a silver-plate cup with an elegant armorial crest incised into it. I shined it up and it holds my pens and pencils — $10!

  7. @Rufus- old scales and typewriters–your kind of place! There’s another scale (red) we left behind! And I completely agree–old dolls can really be creepy. With those weird lashes on one eye, she seems to be winking with both eyes open!

    @Mikalee-it IS seductive–so many stories. Of course not every thing in the house has a sentimental significance, but many do, and I can’t help but wonder about them. Who used this, where did that come from, etc.

    @broadside it’s always fun to visit flea markets and curio shops in not-home places because so much of the stuff found really represents the place and local culture–and then we take them home and give them new uses–like pencil holders!

  8. the vignettes are absolutely stunning.

  9. Stunning! Beautiful shot of the scales.

  10. So lovely!! I love old classic pieces, vintage… I can imagine having one lovely store in the corner with all mums-and-pops saved old staff!! Not to sell to be proud and admire!!I have found mums clothes I wear now and I had like 100s of questions where did I find these picese!! No no, they can’t be find in stores!!
    Wonderful entries!! Please visit my pages and let me know what you think! Happy to share thoughts with the world!!
    Lots of love!! xxxxxx

  11. Oh I am so in love with this post and all the beautiful photos! I love all thing antique and vintage!

    I am in love with that typewriter! Its beautiful!! All of it is!

    Thanks for an awesome post!!

  12. Your writing reads like poetry to me, and your photos bring it to life even more. Thanks for sharing this wonderful find, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Now I’m heading over to read more of your blog.

  13. Thanks! It’s a thrill to appear on Freshly Pressed!

  14. Beautiful pictures and insights. The idea of objects finding a new context really resonated with me. I love being in the midst of the things I get in antique shops (junk shops, really, but you know what they say about one man’s trash…). It makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with all those people from which the items came. I’m imagining their stories and they’re learning mine.

    I’m also in NY so I don’t imagine a chance to visit Arte Mitahue, but I’m lucky to live in an area that abounds with the North American equivalent of it.

    Congrats on the FP! I look forward to exploring your site some more!

  15. The doll with the blue eyes in stunning! Congrats on being FP!

  16. @limr Thanks! I feel something similar when I visit cemeteries and archaeological ruins. Something about making connections with lives from the past through objects that have survived them. Had a similar sensation in Ostia Antica and the Roman Forum a few months ago, walking down those routes and wondering about all the people who had walked those same steps over the centuries. (more on that here:

  17. I love antique shops! You never know what you’re going to find. 🙂

  18. I love antique stores!! and that scale is absolutely fantastic! There is a great one that is half antiques-half old bookstore in Avendia Valparaíso in centro viña. Love the old book smell!

  19. Thanks for the tip Catherine! I’ll have to look for that one in Viña!
    Anyone have a favorite in Santiago?

  20. Amazing antiques and great pictures. I love looking around antique stores, even though I don’t buy anything because I wouldn’t have a place to put it at this point.

  21. I’m the same way–love looking, rarely buy because if I bought everything that caught my eye, I’d have to live in a warehouse! But this scale just really, really wanted me. We actually left and I couldn’t get it out of my mind (it was haunting me!) and had to go back.

  22. Great store, great finds, and a wonderful post! The images are lovely. Would love to visit this place.Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. These are lovely. I particularly like the scale that you found. That is rad.

  24. Thanks! and it looks great among the plants in the living/dining room and filled with colorful fruit! It’s got gorgeous persimmons in it now.
    BTW- loved your “Ilovetocookthings” blog. Great photos & can’t wait to hear how your mole turns out!

  25. i love the color combination of persimmon red with that nice blue!

  26. I, too, just LOVE the typewriter and the scale. I miss my country home, acre veg/flower garden and making jam by scratch. Here’s to the best is yet to come what EVER this may be. Thanks for lovely pics.

  27. @iliketocookthings-me too, but I like the combination of persimmon with my fork even better! 😉
    @maydelory-Thanks! We live right in booming, busy, noisy Santiago, but little touches like this make if feel much cozier.

  28. I love wandering through places with old (but nice) stuff. Whenever we need new fixtures or furniture our first choice is usually parque los reyes…but looks like you found a little gem of a place here.

  29. @Colin Parque de los Reyes (in Santiago) is wonderful! So is Franklin (on a different scale). it’s been a while since I’ve been to either, mostly because I’m afraid of what will “follow me home”!!

  30. It is so interesting to see those stores with things piled up with the owners who know anything and everything about the pieces. I love it. I’m often told I’m too young to go antiquing, but the thrill of knowing this or that piece has history is what I value. Even if I’m just a looky loo. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Thanks for sharing your gem of a store and find! I am a lover of antiques also. Your photos are as wonderful as your stories!

  32. Great pics…Love any sort of flea markets abroad!

  33. Wow, I LOVE the photos and antiques. I’m a sucker for antique shopping so I’m drooling at the scale, typewriter and treasures. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  34. looks like great treasure hunting and playing amateur anthropologist!

  35. Looks fantastic. Makes me want to check out my local antique shop.

  36. amazing antiques. Great pics.

  37. Great post Margaret, hermoso.

  38. this is a Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing!

  39. Nice post!!!! I’m Argentinian, and I already knew the word “Cachivache”, but I’ve never heard about “Cachantún” before, must be a Chilean word. (Sorry for my bad English)

    Concon is nice!! In summer, there’s full of Argentinians too. I’m from Mendoza, Argentina, and it’s near, so I’ve been there like 6 times. I wanted to read your post because I said to myself “Wow, cool, an article in English saying Cachivache, and writing about Chile”.

    Nice post, again!!! Besos!!!!

    Saludos desde San Rafael!

  40. you just reminded me of places we have here in CPT – good post – keep it up!

  41. @bmestdagh- No such thing as too young to appreciate antiques!
    @Barb- Thanks! and see you soon!!
    @Maria-Thanks–and not so amateur. I’m about a parragraph shy of a PhD in anthropology!
    @richmza- Cachantún is a popular Chilean brand of mineral water… and I think cachevache is part of human nature–whatever language one speaks!
    Everyone- Thanks!!

  42. Pingback: Background story. « thoughts/words/battlecry.

  43. Great pictures, lovely post. I love the images – the idea of a store where everything has a story, and where putting all those items together somehow draws all those stories together, making the store something deeper and more mysterious…

  44. What an antique flavor! … lovely photographs … beautiful English … endearing text … Oooops! … as I leave your blog … I am just wondering … how much we are all alike in our tastes … for cultural flavors … I also loved every comment … so evocative in so few a lines! … with a sense of antiquity … I am ‘pressed for words’ … 🙂 Thanks you!

  45. Will visit next time I’m up near Reñaca. Thanks, Margaret!

  46. What a nice surprise to see that while I was sleeping, all of you were reading Cachando Chile! Thanks!

    This post and all of the comments have me thinking about a wonderful book that I just love. Barbara Hodgson’s “Trading in in Memories: Travels Through a Scavenger’s Favorite Places” and how she brings home all sorts of cachevache from her travels.
    Highly recommended for anyone who loves the vibes they get from abandoned things:

  47. Hello, I love the antique lampshade with beads, and if I lived there, I’d drive right down to give it a home at my house except I live in the Tri -State area of New York as well. 😦

    My mom still has an old typewriter similar to the one pictured, and as kids we use to play-type on it -loved tapping the return for the next line and the bell.

    We have a “Cachaivache” in the quaint town of Englishtown; it’s loaded with treasures of all sorts.
    Congratulations are being Freshly Pressed from WordPress!

  48. I couldn’t resist the lampshade either–at least in a photo! Although it does make me want to take a dust cloth to it!
    One of the other fun things about these shops is that it can give you all sorts of ideas–and I just bet that it would not be all that hard to put beads on a lampshade either!
    BTW, Cachevache refers to the stuff rather than the place. For example, kinck-knacks and bric-a-brac can be called cachevache (to me it just SOUNDS like the assortment of stuff it is!), Although, come to think of it, Cachevache WOULD be a great name for one of these shops!

  49. I’m drawn to all things antique and old. Maybe it’s the scent of these things, sometimes it’s the history attached to them. Beautiful photographs! 🙂

  50. Did anyone notice Maru Maru’s hubby mirrored in the scales? Before the days of supermarkets, flour, rice, oats and potatoes came in barrels and gunny sacks. You waited at the counter of the boliche while they scooped the grain into a brown square of paper placed on the scales. Then they would gather the edges of the paper, roll them up like an empanada to make a package which you placed in your woven grocery bag, along with the already weighed loose potatoes, carrots, apples or whatever.

  51. @Kitsatwork-glad to see I’m not the only one who gets caught up in the sensory and emotional attributes of old things and spaces!

    @Kathleen- haha-no, not Maru’s husband–he’s actually MY husband!
    There are still a lot of corner stores–especially in small towns–that still sell goods in bulk. I am always amazed at how we can buy 1 egg!

  52. thanks for sharing this great collection!

  53. When you’ve owned a cachivache for several years it becomes a cachureo.

  54. Chilé has a special place in our hearts—we lived in Antofagasta for over a year and loved it!

    Your pictures bring back memories of people and places we miss dearly. Fantastic post, thank you!

  55. I ABSOLUTELY love the typewriter picture. I’m obsessed with antique typewriters. I love all these pictures! That looks like a place I’d like to visit!

  56. @Deletrius- Thanks-it IS a pretty cool place… BTW, I’ve been paying more attention to old scales, like the one we bought, and so far, ours is in better condition than any of the others I’ve seen! Just goes to show the luck you can have when you take the time to look around.

  57. My favourite pictures in this post are the typewriter and the scales. They maybeoutdated but their modern counterparts can’t match these for character and dare I say it, style. Beautifully classic.

  58. greetings by
    tools changed, but not the passion to write

  59. OMG! I wish I had that typewriter! Nice pictures!

  60. Everyone loves that typewriter! And since having bought the scale, I’ve been paying more attention to others like it and now I realize what a beauty we got! it’s in better condition than most I’ve seen!

  61. Your picture collection is amazing 🙂 reminded me of my visit to the Chowmahal Palace

  62. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I’m curious though, what the comparison is with the Chowmahal Palace? (Would love to see it someday, I had a friend from Hyderabad in grad school).

  63. The doll looks like one of the Olsen’s twin 🙂

  64. You’re lucky to be able to photograph in the antique shop. Most antique shops in the UK would not left you in with a camera. I liked your aticle and there are some interesting photographs

  65. You’re right! It’s tricky… and I always ask before I do, but they realized I was not the competition or a thief, so they said no problem. I’ve had other places tell me they didn’t like photographs because it could alert thieves to what was there.
    Glad you liked the piece–thanks for leaving a comment!

  66. Excellent!!!! I just love the weighing machine….
    seems like ancient times when i saw one of those 🙂

  67. These photos are all so good and I love the one of Mara with the scales!

  68. Thanks! I was pretty pleased with that one too.

  69. Love the old tripewriter and the scales

  70. Love the manual typewriter.

  71. You’re right this fits perfectly!

  72. Legendary post, I enjoy this spectacular site,I found you along freshly pressed!

    Please do check my personal fascinating training blog.

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