All posts by Wael Abdelgawad

El Valle Bread Club – Traditional High-Quality Breads in El Valle

Vermont sourdough bread
Vermont sourdough bread

I recently came across the website of the El Valle Bread Club. One of my few personal complaints in El Valle was the lack of high quality bread. Now that need has apparently been filled.

The El Valle Bread Club describes their Vermont sourdough classic as follows: “Classic sourdough bread made of wheat flour. In France and Germany it is regarded as a solid country bread. In the US it is known as Vermont Sourdough Bread. According to our German tradition we refine it with a pinch of ground caraway and coriander seeds.”

It sounds utterly delicious.

Fascinating rainforest in the Anton Valley, Panama

El Valle de Anton waterfall.
El Valle waterfall.

The following is an excerpt from a Vancouver Sun travel piece titled, “Panama is much more than sunny beaches”, by Matt Finden:

“A volcanic crater?” I queried, my eyebrow raised with obvious interest. “With a town inside it!?” I considered this for a moment, still not quite sure if I had heard correctly.

Though I was lying prone on a beach chair, piña colada in hand, the earnest young man holding the brochure for his tour company now had my full attention. My wife Fionna who had initiated the conversation was standing beside him, having just returned from a swim in the azure blue ocean stretched before me. Our two children, Maya, 8 and Liam, 6, were of course oblivious to our conversation and were engaged in a boisterous, laughter-filled body surfing contest in the gentle waves washing up on our sandy beach.

“Yes boss. The second largest inhabited dormant crater in the world”, came the reply from Manuel.

“It’s called the Anton Valley, no more than a 45-minute drive from here.”

Now, I think full disclosure is warranted here: our reason for coming to Panama was of singular purpose … to enjoy the sun, sand and surf at a beach resort in a beautiful tropical setting. And as I lay sipping my cold beverage on the first day of our trip under a scorching sun with the temperature in the mid-30s, my initial thought was mission accomplished.

As we would learn over the course of the week though, Panama had much more to offer – and we were under no illusion that we were doing more than scratching the surface in our relatively brief stay.

The Anton Valley was indeed a great half-day excursion into the jungle. The crater is about six kilometres in diameter and had been formed roughly 300,000 years ago. Today, it is a lush, verdant rainforest complete with the small town of El Valle situated within. We went swimming at the base of a waterfall, though I must come clean … I’ve seen bigger waterfalls along the side of the Sea to Sky Highway. However, it did empty into a beautiful clear, green natural pool that we all delightfully jumped into for a refreshing dip.

While we certainly received our fill of sunshine, heat and beach bars, it’s the Panama we discovered off the resort that will continue to resonate in our minds long after our tans fade.

Some New House Photos

Here are some new photos of the house taken this year. This fall we’ll be repainting the exterior of the house, and doing ongoing beautification work in the garden.


El Valle Parades

Panama Day parade in El Valle de Anton
Panama Day parade in El Valle de Anton

El Valle is a parade town. The locals love to put on parades for every possible occasion:  Christmas, independence, various saints’ days, and more. These parades are big events, sometimes with half the town participating, marching, playing music, and riding custom-built wagons pulled by oxen. In between parades the youth practice, and the sound of distant rhythmic drumming can often be heard in the days preceding any parade.

Be aware that parades never start on time. They are always scheduled for an early time like 9am, but don’t actually get started until 10 or 11. That’s the Panama way, ha ha.

The parades are one the many things I love about life in El Valle.

Beautiful Home for Sale in El Valle de Antón, Panama

Beautiful home in El Valle de Antón, Panama

This lovely house is for sale in the peaceful resort town of El Valle de Antón, Panama. Here are some quick links to pages on this site:

Keep an Eye Out for the Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore oriole
A Baltimore oriole was recently sighted in El Valle, Panama

A resident of El Valle de Anton (Panama) recently reported seeing a Baltimore Oriole in his yard, and suggested keeping an eye out for this brilliant orange and black colored bird.

The Baltimore oriole’s habitat ranges from the Eastern half of the United States all the way down to Venezuela, so in Panama we’re at the southern end of its range.

It’s head, throat, mantle, wings, and tail are all black. The underparts, shoulders, tip and edges of tail, and rump are orange to yellow orange. The orange on the chest deepens to almost a sunset orange. There is a single white wingbar; the orange shoulder makes a second wingbar. The bill is pointed and silvery.

Panama has 972 species of birds. Because of its unique location as a connector of Central and South America, Panama gets visits from migratory birds from the entire range of the Americas.

El Valle is a birder’s paradise, and in fact there are hotels devoted specifically to birders. Every morning in El Valle one wakes up to bird song. It’s quite lovely.

8 Great Places to Retire You’ve Never Heard Of

Coronado Bay, Panama
Coronado Bay, Panama

Number Three: Coronado, Panama, just 35 minutes away from El Valle.

Yahoo Finance just published a slideshow titled, “8 Great Places to Retire You’ve Never Heard Of.” One of them is Coronado, Panama, which is just down the hill from El Valle de Anton, only 35 minutes away. Coronado is where El Valle residents go for larger grocery trips, or to have a Subway sandwich, or (if you know someone) to hang out at the beach.

My beautiful house in El Valle is for sale. Not only do you get to live in one of the loveliest places in the world, you’re only 40 minutes away from the Pacific beaches, and only 90 minutes out of the capital city.

Information about the house


For sale in El Valle de Antón, Panama: a large, modern, fully furnished house

I am offering my furnished house for sale in El Valle de Antón, Panama. For those who don’t know, El Valle is a lovely town of about 7,000 people, 90 minutes outside of Panama City, the capital of Panama. El Valle sits at 600 meters elevation in the bed of an ancient volcano, and has a pleasant, cool climate.

El Valle is a resort town and a popular weekend destination, and as a result it has many nice restaurants and a thriving crafts market. It’s also a place of amazing natural beauty, with a hot springs, waterfalls, and surrounded by misty, forested mountains. There is an established expat community in El Valle and many interesting activities such as classes in cooking, paper making, glass staining, and yoga.

The lot is 1,500 m2 (16,145 square feet) with beautiful mature trees of all kinds, including papaya, eucalyptus, bananas (the banana trees produce a small, uniquely flavored banana called “guineo de manzana”), and various berry bushes.

The house is 260 m2 (approximately 2,800 square feet) with three bedrooms and three baths. The house was designed by a Panamanian couple in which he was an engineer, and she was an interior decorator. Their expertise shows both in the practical elements of the design, and the many decorative flourishes. Some of the house’s features:

  • Convenient location two blocks off the main road and close to the center of town. Everything is within walking distance.
  • House has a raised foundation to prevent flooding in the rainy season.
  • The yard has a system of french drains beneath the surface to carry away excess rainwater.
  • Plenty of windows providing lots of light. Panamanian-style homes tend to be dark inside. Not so with this house. Also, many of the windows afford wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Ceiling and wall lamps everywhere, both inside and outside the house. Many of the lamps take the form of birds such as chickens and owls.
  • Split AC’s and ceiling fans in each bedroom. (A split AC is a type of high-end air conditioner that works by splitting the hot side from the cold side of the air conditioner. The cold is inside, while the hot is outside, with the two connected by a narrow duct through the wall. Since the compressor is outside, the AC unit is quieter and much more pleasing to the eye. It’s also more efficient and will really cool the room fast). Anyway, you won’t need the ACs most of the time because of El Valle’s pleasant climate, but on the hot days they can keep you comfortable if you choose.
  • New washer and dryer just installed in 2012.
  • New hot water heater installed in 2012.
  • Almost every room in the house has ceiling fans with lamps, including the bedrooms, bathrooms, living room and foyer.
  • Stone flooring and teak cabinets in the bathrooms.
  • A huge kitchen with a large island and plenty of counter space. Refrigerator and microwave were purchased last year.
  • Large living room built in a unique “patio style” that allows the breeze to pass through, and with very high ceilings; this room is cool year round. There is also a loft above the living room that can be used for storage.
  • A barbeque in the living room and an exhaust fan to take away the smoke.
  • Plenty of closet and storage space.
  • High speed internet connection via MobilNet. All you have to do is change the service to your name.
  • Telephone line. Many people rely on mobile phones, and El Valle has a mobile phone store, so it’s your option to activate the landline or not.
  • Furniture includes rustic-style couch and chairs, built-in tables and seating, rocking chair, hammock, kitchen stools, two beds plus sheets and pillows, nightstands, television cabinet, large television and DVD player, small desk and leather office chair, three UPS devices and several surge protectors, lamps, Vornado floor fans, quality cookware and silverware from the U.S., garden shed equipped with tools, and more. It’s turnkey. You could move right in with the clothes on your back.

The house is currently rented to an American expat. She is an excellent tenant and takes good care of the property.

An excellent maid and gardener help to care for the house, keeping it maintained and clean. They have worked in this house for several years and know it very well. They are both honest and hard working. You are not required to employ them of course, but if you do then you will not find better employees anywhere.

By the way, Rosa (the maid) would be happy to cook for you as well if you like. She has really branched out her cooking skills over the years and can prepare very nice Panamanian food, Chinese stir fry, Italian, salads and even vegetarian. When I’m staying in the house I give her money in the morning and she goes to the local open-air market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and cook them up the same day.

The side door has a small pet door built in, with a latch to keep other animals out at night.

The sale price is $300,000.

If you are interested please contact me via the form on the contact page, and I can make arrangements for you to see the house.

– Wael Abdelgawad, El Valle de Anton, Panama

The Yard and Outside Buildings


Here is a gallery of photos of the yard, the street in front of the house, the shed, the laundry, etc. Basically all the outdoor structures. Click on the thumbnails to see larger photos.

The Living Room and Guest Bathroom


The living room is essentially a large, closed-in patio with very high celings. It has ceiling fans and lamps as well, a hammock, two built-in seating areas with cushions and pillows, an indoor barbeque with a vent to remove the smoke, and a guest bathroom. A large, heavy wooden door separates the living room from the rest of the house. That door can be locked for added security, not that it is needed in this peaceful place.

This room is always pleasantly cool, even on the hottest days. It’s a lovely room in which to dine, relax with friends, play cards or games, dance, or just hang out. My daughter always enjoyed playing in this room, while I used to lay down mats and practice martial arts in the evening. We often entertained friends in this room. In the morning all you hear is bird song, and in the evening the chorus of the frogs and insects.