Getting to know El Valle!
We had great intentions of getting to know El Valle today. The climate is blissfully different than anywhere, but most like Boquete – with less rain. As far as Panama goes, El Valle has the best climate we’ve come across so far. That, coupled with the beauty of this crater village, it’s tempting to look at it as a possible future home. BUT, not yet… I still have my issues with Panama which I’ll cover in another blog post when the trip is over.
Striking out in El Valle
OK, back to our intentions. On the agenda today is, first, a visit to the local Serpentarium which has several kinds of snakes and other reptiles. When we get there, it’s closed, though the hours are 8-5 daily. Hm. Oh yeah, this is Panama. People don’t open unless they feel like it, so operating hours are just to convince you an idea that they DO open sometimes. Next!
Now to hike a short trail to the famous El Valle “square trees.” The directions are very vague and though we circled the area we thought the trail was in several times, we couldn’t find it. Not surprised given the lack of direction, streets signs, etc. in most of Panama. (Later on, we found where the trail started, but were too hungry to hike.)
I’m discouraged by a completely wasted morning. We’re at least seeing some of El Valle… it’s streets, potholes, houses… Would love to see something I can’t see in the U.S.! Can you tell I’m less optimistic these days? Home is sounding better and better and I’m wearing that attitude on my sleeve. Oops.
Time to find some lunch! The guidebook has 2 restaurants that look like good options. Artash – a Thai place. Looked for it for 15 minutes in this tiny town with no success. Finally we asked someone on the side of the road. He said that the owners are on “holiday” and it’s closed. Strike 3!
Next on the list: Pinnochio’s for pizza. Easy to find. Also closed. I’m starting to wonder if anyone is open for lunch or if we’ll even find food anywhere.
Ty’s. We ate there last night, but it was good and they had a lot of options. Oh! And maybe the monkey will be there!
Maybe there’s hope in El Valle!
We arrived at Ty’s Sports Grill as they were opening and the owner, an American, introduced herself and seated us right away. American hospitality! Yippee! As soon as we ordered, the other owner showed up with Mona, the Capuchin monkey on his shoulder! Oh my goodness. This was the coolest thing. We ate and played with Mona for hours! She is such a character and we were laughing at all her antics.
At one point, she lifted up the bottom of my shirt, to reveal my jeans pocket. As quick as a flash, she had found some folded up cash in my pocket, pulled it out, stuffed it in her mouth and tried to run away! Fortunately, she was on a long leash and didn’t get far. Each time she would jump on me, she would go for that same pocket over and over.
She absolutely adored the boys. As far as she was concerned, she was their momma and was going to take care of them. She searched their hair for bugs, licked their necks, arms and legs, purred and cuddled up to them. It was one of the cutest things I’ve seen. If they weren’t so mischievous, I’d get one. They are so entertaining!
Back at Casa Mariposa, we asked if we could hold the baby sloth. The boys weren’t brave enough the first night and we didn’t want them to miss another opportunity. Kole worked up the nerve to hold her, but Karter was still shy.
Later on in the evening, we met up with some friends that Kristian had met through a Panama Facebook page – Melissa and Nathan. They recently moved to El Valle from Texas, so it was great to hear their side of things and compare notes on our experiences. We ate dinner at this family-owned brick-oven pizza place. They serve their guests from the front porch of their house. It’s very intimate and perfectly charming. Not to mention, the pizza is wonderful! Thanks for telling us about this place and for treating us, Melissa and Nathan! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit!
Tomorrow is the last (half) day in El Valle, then it’s back to crazy, hot, crazy, chaotic, dirty, sweaty, crazy Panama city. Yes, I’m a bit of a whiner these days.