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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.