Escaping the humid city to cooler volcano crater

Trip Start Sep 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hostel Orchid El Valle de Anton
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Panama  , Coclé,
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tues 8th May cont.

A few hours later around midday, the bus pulled into a service area with a restaurant for a half an hour lunch break, so we sat and ate our sandwiches while we waited. After lunch we carried on until we arrived at our junction at around 2.30pm, where we had to walk over a bridge to the other side of the road to wait for another bus to take us up into the volcano. El Valle is a town built into the crater of a volcano that has been extinct for thousands of years and is the largest inhabited volcano crater in the world. The first bus was rather full so we had to wait for the next which was only about 15 minutes later. When it arrived we went to put our bags on the roof, but the driver decided to put them on the front seat and we crammed in behind them. As the bus got higher, people got off here and there so there was a bit more room and we could sit back and enjoy the scenery. Half an hour or so later, we arrived into El Valle and got off in front of a hotel we'd heard of and checked out the price. We had heard that it was going to be expensive here and the cheapest we could find was $40, but we'd also heard that there was a hostel here too. So, I left Cat at the bus stop with all the bags and went on the hunt for it. It was at the local Orchid Farm just outside town and had a six bed dorm for $12 each or a double for $20 for the room. So I walked back and collected Cat and we walked the 20minutes to the hostel and checked into the double. It was a bit of a find (thanks to Cat's searching the internet) as not only was it a reasonable price, they had a kitchen to use, had a bearable luke-warm shower and was in the middle of the orchid farm. The hostel is in the Aprovaca Orchid Centre, a bit like a garden centre at home but for Orchids and they have some beautiful specimens and birdlife flying around. We dumped our stuff in the room, grabbed a few supplies from the store down the road, showered and then cooked dinner. In the dorm was a German staying, I think he had it to himself and he came over to chat in his minimal English. He gave us some of his honey dew melon and some breadsticks which were very nice, made himself a cup of tea and bid us goodnight. Nice chap. Then we settled in to our flowery gettaway listening to all the sounds of the insects, birds and frogs, but with no TV tonight we'll have to make do with an episode of Ice Road Truckers instead. How will we ever cope.
Weds 9th May.

Got up around 8.30am, cooked some pancakes for breakfast and then got ready for a walk. We headed off across the road to a hotel that has a path that runs through a woodland to a strange set of square trees. They are not totally square and go round at the top, but from the root when they come out of the ground they have four distinct sides. On the way to the trees and back we saw a massive trail of ants carrying leaves across the floor which was cool to watch. We then headed into the centre to have a look round and have a not so great strawberry milkshake, well it was in a chinese restaurant and the chinese are not known for their milkshakes. We then grabbed a few supplies for dinner and then walked back to the hostel. When we got back we had some lunch, then had a snooze for an hour or so. Later we cooked dinner and then did some research for Panama City whilst the bug life hopped, flew and jumped around us. By 10pm we'd had enough and escaped to our room that was surrounded by giant grasshoppers, watched an Ice Road Truckers episode and then got off to bed.

Thurs 10th May.

Up at 7.30am, cooked breakfast, then headed off before it got too warm, to Chorro las Mozas water falls. It took us about an hour to get there, it would have been sooner but we had to make a quick toilet stop at a kind cabin owners house. Back on the way we saw the sleeping Indian a bit closer than yesterday (La Indian Dormida) which you can clearly see her head of long flowing hair. The path led down to the river where we had a 10 minute walk along some pretty slippery rocks and the odd muddy bank. Cat didn't do the last bit, but I made it to the falls where a surprised lizard suddenly shot across the water literally running on it. Once I'd taken enough photos, I headed back to Cat (landing on my butt only once) and we walked back to the main road. On our way out, there was a pickup and a big group of people heading our way which turned out to be a funeral procession with the flower covered coffin in the back. So we waited for them to pass and then carried on back to town. We bought some fruit in the market and headed back to the hostel for a rest and lunch. After lunch we confirmed a place to stay in Panama City and this time we thought we'd give Airbnb a try. Airbnb is an American b&b website that advertises a spare room in someone's home that they rent out. Once we'd booked that we had a shower and then cooked dinner. After dinner we walked down to the shop to get an ice cream for dessert, then walked back to relax for the evening with the sounds of the night wildlife.

Fri 11th May.

Got up around 7.30am, had breakfast and then checked out of our room. We then loaded up and walked down the road to the bus shelter to catch a bus to Panama City. Once the bus arrived, we squeezed on and then enjoyed the scenery down the volcano to the main road.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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