We had an excellent cup of coffee and some pastries ($6). We were hoping for something a little more “Panamanian” in the way of pastries but it all looked pretty similar to what is found in the US. We sat next door at the Internet Café, enjoyed our breakfast and people watched.
After checking out of the Hotel Residencial it was time for lunch and we decided on a place which looked pretty good. The food was OK ($7 including tip) but they did not serve cervezas. So we decided to find a restaurant/bar and came across the Bruschetta Restaurant. There were some “foreign” looking people having lunch on the patio and some beer bottles on the table, which was a good sign!
We soon learned that one couple was from Ontario and they were on a birding trip. We chatted a little with them and when they left, another couple who had been listening to our conversation started talking to us. We spent the next hour asking them questions and hearing about their experiences since their move to El Valle from Connecticut 3 years ago. They were renting a house (which is what we intend to do when we first come here to live) while they build a home on some hectares that their son owns further up the mountain. They learned we had been in the travel business and before we knew it, they had called another couple in town who had also been in the travel business!
We also were given some suggestions as to where we should stay for the rest of our visit. We learned that a certain place was over-priced, another the owner was not nice and if we went to a certain place we should bargain on the price and insist on a particular room!! This kind of information was priceless! One place that they recommended was Cabanas Potosi which is owned by Dennis and Mireye Wenthold, retired teachers from Naples, FL. We had a little difficulty finding the place but were thrilled when we did. This property is really for hikers and birdwatchers, but the cabins (4 in all) have recently been remodeled and are clean and comfortable. The property has been owned by Mireye’s 86 year old mother for many years and Dennis and Mireye had just signed the papers today and are now the proud owners!
Priced at $43 per night, we have a fridge in our room, plenty of hot water, a fan (there is no need for A/C since we are at 3,000ft. above sea level). We slept with the windows open and there was a lovely breeze. Tomorrow we will go to the store and buy a few things that we need. It takes just a few minutes to get in to town and yet the cabanas are on the edge of the rain-forest.
By the time we had checked in to the Cabanas, Bill had received a call from the people who had been in the travel business. They invited us over for a drink and we had a great evening admiring their lovely home, hearing about their past travel experiences and talking with their friend who owns a travel company in Prague. Again, we received all kinds of great advice and we left there feeling like we were already part of a friendly community.
The Bruschetta Restaurant has the best food at the best prices so we decided to have dinner there on our way home. Bill chose a skewered mixed grill with French fries and I had langoustine with baked potato – both recommended by our new travel friends! The meal included a delicious salad and cost $20. By this time we were ready for an early night and it didn’t take us long to get to sleep.
Today we saw what the “rainy season” is like! It started off with a beautiful, blue sky, then while we were at Bruschetta’s it started to pour with rain so that we had to move inside. By the time we were ready to leave, it was just misting. People here are used to this type of weather and we saw school kids walking home in the rain (most didn’t have umbrellas) and yard men continuing to cut grass and rake leaves in the rain!
Tomorrow we will do more exploring and, probably meet some other interesting people and learn more about life in El Valle.