Weekend Trip to El Valle

Saturday morning we took off to visit the inland area called El Valle.  It is an area inside a very old volcanic crater that collapsed millions of years ago, filled with a lake that eventually dried up leaving a fertile valley for the early Indian inhabitants to discover and farm.  It more recently served as a vacation area for the rich Panamanians who had weekend ranches in the valley.  Today it is still a vacation spot for weekend trips from the city but more and more retirees from both the US and Europe are discovering the area is a great place to retire to.  The lots are all very large so only a few buildings are near each other.  The main street is still narrow and sparsely populated with buildings.  There are a few nice small hotels and restaurants along the main street as well as the market.  During the mid-week the market is mostly filled with vegetable stands but on the weekends the local native population sets up stands to sell their art to the tourists.  Saturday when we arrived, the town was still quite sleepy and quiet but Sunday around noon the people started to arrive in cars and tourist buses.  We did our shopping on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning before the crowds arrived but by Sunday afternoon the market was full of shopping tourists.  Sunday afternoon Bill and I walked out to the hot springs with their mud baths and warm pools.  It was a nice walk along country lanes with small bridges over creeks and very little traffic as long as we stayed off the main street.  We had a relaxing weekend and returned to Panama City, about 2 hours away on the bus, late Monday morning.

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The town is in a very old volcano caldera and is surrounded by mountains.

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The homes are spread out on narrow country roads.

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Sunday an artesian’s market springs up near the local vegetable market.

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Bill enjoys the warm pool at the hot springs.