|We leave Panama City having enjoyed our time there very much. The noise, bustle, and smog, though, make it easy to go. We catch a direct van to El Valle, a mountain valley town a hundred or so kilometers to the west. From here on out, we'll be heading west. In fact, The only place we'll be going that is East of Panama City is Portland, Maine. Funny.
Our main reason for making the trip to El Valle is to take part in their reknowned Sunday Market. As of yet, minus a few necessities, we have indulged in no gift shop or frivolous souveniring. (if souveniring is not a word, forgive us). So El Valle is known as a craft and agricultural center. Mandy is very excited, and Jon is happy to pretend that he doesn't look forward to the event itself, but is only happy that she is happy. The first little problem, however, is that the popularity of the Market precedes us and we have some trouble finding an afforable room. In the end, we are forced to splurge a little, but we consider it all part of the build-up towards our upcoming consumerism. We have arrived on a Saturday and will be leaving Monday morning.
After our room has been secured we head out to explore the town and outlying area. It is so peaceful and quiet compared to our previous days in Panama City. No honking horns or piles of concrete to walk over. No missing sewer covers or plastic cell phone coverlettes. The air was fresh and everything was green. Mist rolled off the hills, the dogs were all well fed, and we even went to the regional youth soccer championship game. The blue team won, but boy was it close. There was a real community spirit in El Valle and we were happy to be there.
Sunday was a real treat. We enjoyed the market all morning and were reserved in the small purchases we made. It was more of a thrill to walk among the stalls and see everyone's wares. There was (very little) aggresive salesmanship and although many of the vendors sold similar items they all seemed to be close friends and were happy to recommend another stall if you couldn´t find what you were looking for. We ate fresh fruit and drank great coffee. We meandered, had lunch, and then meandered some more.
Later that afternoon we took a long walk out of town to a waterfall we had heard about. It turned out, though, that it cost $2.50 to hike to it, and another $2.50 if you wanted to swim in it. Apparently they'll only let you contaminate the water supply if you're willing to subsidize the cleanup. We opted not to pay the fees, but enjoyed the walk just the same.
Nothing of grand excitement happened to us in El Valle (are we boring?), but it was a wonderful place to spend the weekend and recover from the big city.