Our first stop outside Santiago on the way south wasn’t planned. Isn’t it so that the best experiences are stumbled upon unexpectedly?
We saw an exit sign for Pomaire, a small town 30 minutes west of Santiago that is known for its little ceramic piggies among other potteries. I remember going there when I studied abroad and then again with Kat and a couple good friends after we graduated. This time there weren’t many people in town but enough of the shops were open that in the end we were able to find several cool items to take with us. As we walked through town after a picnic in the plaza we passed the fire station and the boys were invited into the garage to climb aboard the truck. What an excellent, unexpected bonus that was. And shortly thereafter, a local guy on the street went out of his way to show us the pottery making process. He took us behind a shop and demonstrated the throwing wheel and told us about the drying and firing process. It was another excellent, unexpected bonus to this already spontaneous side-trip.
We left Pomaire and drove back roads through agriculture and wine country to where we would spend the next couple nights, Santa Cruz. It’s the Napa of Chile, but not as carefully manicured. The next morning, on the recommendation of the guy renting us an apartment, we went to a winery just outside of town called Vino Bello to give ourselves a self-guided tour. We parked under an absolutely loaded, excellent and unexpected apricot tree with plenty of mushy ones on the ground. They were unanimously declared, without a doubt, the best apricots we’ve ever eaten. So we picked enough to loosen our stools for the next four days. No one was around to care whether or not we were there, so after our mid-morning snack we freely explored the vineyards. It was a beautiful morning.