We only have the morning to do what we want to do and see what we want to see in El Valle. Then we have to head back to Panama City, return our rental car and spend 2 nights before leaving for home.
Breakfast took place at Bruschetta’s, which is a guidebook recommended restaurant and seems to live up to it’s reputation… from the outside. I’m not going to whine about the service. I’m done doing that. I’ve definitely learned what Panamanian service means and to expect no more. But will still rejoice when we get “better” service. The food, though, left much to be desired. I wouldn’t eat there again. I mean, who fails at breakfast? Scrambled eggs is as easy as it comes, folks.
Creal lover – so excited that he gets to eat something that I NEVER buy.
Off to the Serpentarium again, but once again, it was closed. There’s a local zoo featuring some native animals, so we’re going to try that instead of going on a hike. We’re in luck! The zoo is open!
The zoo, named El Nispero, was actually much better than I had anticipated. It starts out as a plant nursery, but if you continue to follow the arrows winding up into the forest a little, you get to see quite an assortment of mammals, reptiles and birds! This zoo is home to the nearly-extinct golden frog!
The Wildlife of El Nispero
Ocelot, lemur, kinkajou and tamarin (my favorite!)
So the animals were really cool, but also, the grounds were quite picturesque. There’s just “something” about being inside a crater. Anywhere you’re at within it, there’s a gorgeous backdrop guaranteed.
The Grounds at El Nispero
Time to head for Panama City!
Panama City is only 2 hours or so from El Valle. We made one stop in the expat city of Coronado. I’ve been wondering what it’s like there since I still haven’t found a place in Panama that feels like home, and since there are a lot of Americans here, there’s a chance. I only got to see inside the grocery store, but I will say, that until now, the grocery store experience has been FAR from what I’m used to. The Rey grocery store is the most like home I’ve seen so far. It’s very much like a typical store in the states. I felt right at home shopping there, with a very wide assortment of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, etc. The only thing I noticed was missing was whole grain bread. It’s still either all white and spongy or masquerading as wheat because it’s brown. I’m sure other things were missing, but I wasn’t really keeping score today.
One thing about Panamanian grocery stores is that the checkout process is sooooo slow. I’d say give yourself 10 minutes per person in front of you in line. Seriously. I went to a store in El Valle yesterday and waited with 4 cold bottles of water in my arms while the cashier had her picture taken with some man (who looked old enough to be her father, but clearly wasn’t.) They weren’t in any hurry and took several shots before acknowledging me. When they giddily went back behind the counter, the man couldn’t keep his hands off her – the kind of behavior that would never be tolerated in a professional setting. You’d think I’d get used to this sort of thing!
Crossing the Bridge of the Americas into Panama City!
Back in Panama City, returning the rental car was seamless. Getting to our B&B was another matter. The cab driver seemed confident when we told him where we wanted to go, but once we got to the neighborhood it’s located in (which in his defense, is confusing enough) we drove around and around and around. He had to stop 5 times to ask people on the street for directions. Finally, he called the B&B and got directions, but still couldn’t find it. Turns out, none of the cab drivers know where this place is. Even the neighbors haven’t heard of it.
When we finally arrived, it was obvious why no one knew where it was – there’s no sign. It’s one-half of a duplex in the middle of a residential area. But we were greeted cheerfully by the owner, Evangeline.
Dos Palmitos B&B
Dos Palmitos instantly makes up for the chaos getting here. It’s so clean and cozy. I feel like I’m home. It’s by far one of the nicest places we’ve stayed in terms of comfort and the feeling of safety, which does come into play. We have a separate room from the boys, but both rooms are dressed in well thought-out linens and decor and… the towels are fluffy. Yes, even the little things are notable.
Common area at Dos Palmitos
After getting settled and hanging out for a bit in our rooms with A/C, we had to begin thinking about dinner. Another reason I’m excited to be getting home is to not have to think so hard about every meal! What should we eat? Where should we eat? How far away is it? What should we wear? How much will the cab cost? Will we be able to speak enough for him to understand where we want to go and what time we want to be picked up? Then there’s all the questions about ordering!
We decided on Mi Ranchito on the Amador Causeway, since we knew where it was, what kind of food they have and approximately how much it will cost. One thing about Mi Ranchito that I didn’t notice during the first visit, was the lack of veggies on the menu. I really, really, really wanted a salad, but there wasn’t a one on the menu. I decided on the grilled corvina. “Can I get veggies on the side?” “No, no, only rice, french fries, fried plantains, or yucca.” Starch. Meat and starch. Turns out, they did serve my fish with rice (white, of course) and cooked carrots. Just a couple of bites.
We enjoyed this Saturday night on “the Causeway.” Most of the restaurants have live music and everyone is out enjoying the cool breeze that’s sweeping over the road that connects the 3 islands. It’s a lovely evening. The boys and I walked down to the second island, Isla Perrico, but had to head back when we realized our cab driver would be returning for us.
Home again, home again, lickety-split! Real home is just around the corner. 🙂