Today is our second full day here in El Valle de Anton, commonly known as just El Valle. Just where is this place? If you look at the small map below, you will see the route we took from Cerro Azul to El Valle (look for the red push pins at either end of the magenta route).
Here at Cabanas Potosi, the owners keep a few birds. Today’s feature picture is of the one who actually runs the place. He lives in a cage for the night but when he wants his breakfast, he just makes it so noisy that the owners bring him food. He spends the day out of the cage, in a large tree and is somewhat temperamental. He will visit the guests with the owners sometimes and will show a full range of behavior from being fun and chatty to being miserable and ornery. He sometimes plays games with people with cameras and likes to hide from being photographed. Andrea was patient enough to get these shots of him today. When he deems it is dinner time, he calls for his dinner, which is promptly delivered to him and then retires to his cage for the night. Quite a life!
El Valle is a place we have been before but we have never stayed here, just day tripped from other locations. It is growing dramatically but still maintains it’s small town charm. Weekdays are not very busy here but on the weekends it is a popular place for the Panama City folks to head to beat the heat. You also get tour busses full of tourists stopping by on the weekends so the visitors can shop at the market. On a holiday weekend it is common for all the hotel rooms in town to be full! One of the popular draws here is the large public market where you can buy hand crafts from all over the country, plants, fresh fruit and vegetables.
The owner of our resort, is from an old Panamanian family that has been in El Valle for generations. They are owners of large tracts of land here which has become very valuable over the last few years. She tells us that people usually stay here for just three or four days because that is how long it takes to see everything here.
The town site is primarily on level land on the floor of the valley. Mountains surround the town so it is really quite picturesque. The weather is cooler than Panama City and this is one of the few places in Panama where you will find fire places in houses. Both days we have been here it has rained for a short time late in the afternoon. Today, I took some shots of the main drag here. It really doesn’t do the town justice because there are some beautiful large “old money” homes here down some of the side streets. I will see if I can get you some peeper shots tomorrow.
Today, I experienced some typical Panamanian bureaucracy. I was looking for a WiFi connection, which is still not too common here. We found a couple of restaurants that have it but the library advertises free WiFi service for everyone. I went to the library, a nice airy one story building with wired computer workstations around the perimeter of the large single room. Book stacks were neatly arranged into the center of the room and there were lots of tables and chairs for the use of the patrons. I walked in, sat down, and started to fire up my computer. I found the WiFi network and tried to connect to it but it failed. After a few moments, one of the librarians came over with a scribbler, looking for the MAC address of my computer so they could authorize it’s use on their router. I scratched my head and tried to figure out why they would bother with such a step as the service is free and available to everyone that wants it. Why not just have an open public connection? Oh well, I guess it must give someone a job!
For dinner tonight, we headed to a restaurant that we have been to on other trips. This is also a favorite, we found out, of Antonio, our friend from Cerro Azul. The hotel is a little too Panamanian for our taste (yes it’s possible) but the restaurant is awesome! This restaurant is at the Rincon Vallero Hotel. Outside the main entrance is spectacularly landscaped with some beautiful local species and the entrance has a mature vine sporting lots of large blue flowers covering the entrance trellis. Once through the front door you will see a multi level restaurant divided in half by carp pools. There are plants everywhere and the sound of a small waterfall off in one corner. The set tables are dressed with bright red and white table coverings, glasses and place settings that just invite you to sit and have a meal. Soft Spanish music plays from the sound system. This place creates an impressive atmosphere! We were the only patrons in the restaurant.
While looking at the menu, a duck and a goose waddled in from the hotel courtyard entrance. It looked like they knew exactly what they were doing… heading for a table of pastries wrapped in plastic wrap. The goose looked like the instigator as he could almost reach the basket of goodies by stretching his neck through the wrought iron railing. He was just about to snatch his snack when the server came back and shooed the two would be banditos back into the hotel courtyard. We saw one other thwarted attempt later in the evening.
I didn’t order duck or goose for dinner but the corvina (sea bass) special along with a sumptuous papaya fruit shake. Here is a picture for a certain person in the audience! The service was excellent as was the food. Dinner for two, including tip $33. Once again, this place gets a double thumbs up for landscaping, atmosphere, service, food and pricing. Don’t miss it if you come to El Valle.