Our Day at Valle de Anton was much too short

Our day started with a beautiful one hour drive into the mountains…destination Valle de Anton. We researched this place as a possible permanent home in our post of Today, Let’s Explore Valle de Anton in November of 2017. If you’re just joining the adventure, and want to catch up, it may be a great time to click the link and read about our research. When researching for our excursions we expected to find this wonderful place much further away. We chose to go on Sunday by design because the market there is called the Sunday Market. We now understand that it is open every day. This charming town is loaded with things to do and we didn’t know where to begin. The road led us to the mineral springs and mud bath. Our lack of fluent communication proved to be a small problem. We paid the $4 to enter only to find that it was only the mineral springs and mud bath, no paths to water falls. We embraced the moment and smeared mud on our faces and relaxed in the mineral baths for quite some time.

We decided after the mineral springs to visit the Sunday Market. We hadn’t prepared properly for the order of events. Perhaps it would have been better to go to the mud and mineral bath last. The Sunday Market was great. We found all the things described in our previous research. There were many cool paintings, granite figurines, and hats to mention a  few. Jen found a hat she liked, however she was unable to negotiate the price to where she wanted.

You may recall that the vegetables are not to impressive here near our beach home. When one drives to the interior of the country there is a climate difference which is more conducive to vegetable growth. We got some nice fresh vegetables that are not available in the grocery store here. We will be making periodic, future visits to this new found place to further explore and buy vegetables. We had a great, late lunch at Carlitos before heading home. If you remember our previous post, we did not explore the butterfly sanctuary, zoo, waterfalls, or see the square trees.

This morning we had our 3rd session with the Spanish tutor.Her name is Jasmine and she is a wonderful teacher. As it turns out, everyone around here knows Jasmine and she deserves to be mentioned. If you’re in the Coronado area, and want help with your Spanish skills, give us a message, and we will provide you her contact info. This afternoon we are hanging out at the pool on the roof, and relaxing. Tomorrow, we will be heading to Panama City. We have to be at the American Embassy at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning to start the drivers license process. We hope to have our Panama drivers license by mid afternoon Wednesday before returning home. With any luck we will be able to make our next post on Thursday.

It looks like we are getting about 100 hits a day on this thing and we are finding it humbling that so many are living our adventure vicariously through us. Please feel free to share any or all of our posts. We love the few comments we are getting and all the likes on Facebook.  Please, if you haven’t, subscribe by e-mail to get our blog delivered directly to your in box.

Chao,

Greg and Jen

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We take our first official adventure…

Heading out for adventure

…as if we haven’t had any adventures yet. Thursday we climbed in the car and took off for Peninsula de Azuero. This is the first adventure we planned in our adventure planning post of 10/24/2017 let-the-excursion-planning-begin. If you were not following back in October of 2017, feel free to click the link and go back to the planning stage with us. We reviewed our previous post before we left on Thursday. This excursion would take 2-3 hours of travel each way and appeared to be our shortest distance to travel. If we traveled to Pedasi the travel would be longer. We are in search of a place where we may one day consider living permanently. Our first stop was for fuel. We encountered nobody who spoke a bit of English. In fact, we didn’t find anyone who spoke English the entire day. In spite, we had a great time and used our new Spanish skills to communicate to the best of our ability. The natives love that we try to speak Spanish and help if possible.  While on the road we encountered a few surprises. This wind farm had hundreds of windmills. We also saw a solar farm of which we could not get a photo.

We passed through Penonome’, Santa Maria, and Chitre’ before arriving at Las Tablas. The feature picture today is Jen at the Las Tablas sign. It was about time for an early lunch and we chose to dine at none other than McDonalds. I do not think you can out travel McDonalds. We had a Big Mac and Crispy McPollo (chicken), both value meals, and our total bill was $11.20. We may have made mention of it before, but for those of you who may not know Panama uses US Currency. Only the coins are different.

Following lunch we made our way to the downtown area where there were some cool shops and sidewalk vendors. After wandering about for a short while we decided that we should look for the beach. We had visions of a possible condo project or some cute little housing project on the water. Our GPS app (Waze) was telling us that we could be to the water in 9 minutes. Off we went carefully following the suggested route. It wasn’t long before we ran out of pavement. Thank God for 4 wheel drive. The 2 track we followed for at least 4 Km and 30 minutes did eventually get us to a deserted beach. You could not see anybody or any sign of buildings down the beach in either direction. We were running without a plan and the SUV had a full tank of gas. We thought we may find civilization at Playa El Uverito, so off we went.

The road to the beach
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The road to the beach
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo
The beach near Las Tablas Abajo

 

 

 

 

 

Playa El Uverito was another 30 minutes or so away. Signs along the way led us to believe there were a couple of Hostels and Bed and Breakfasts on the beach there. We found the beach there with about 20 very depressed and run down homes. Many appeared to be deserted. This area was just too far off the beaten path to attract visitors, and to us it was heartbreaking. Sorry, we didn’t take pictures.

By now it was too late in the day to journey another hour to Pedasi, so we made the decision to turn back toward home. We wanted to make a couple of stops an the way back. Our first stop was a local grocery store in one of the small towns. We found many grocery items priced much better than near the tourist area where we are staying. It was the same when we stopped along the highway for fresh fruit. $1 bought a watermelon, less than a $1 for bananas, and $5. for a big bottle of fresh honey. We made a quick stop for el helado (ice cream). It was wonderful and also only a dollar. Our last stop was for Mexican food. It was dark by the time we left the restaurant and I was happy that we were not far from home.

Yesterday we toured a couple of more local condo projects. RioMar was above our budget, but moved to the top of Jen’s list. After, we had lunch here locally, I got a haircut and Jen had some copies made that we will need at the American Embassy this Wednesday. While all that was going on we had the car detailed. It was necessary after our journey off road on Thursday.

RioMar
Car Detailed $9, Haircut $5. Life is good.

Our day ended with pizza at Picasso. Picasso is a local hangout. We have been there a couple of times because it is walking distance from our condo. The pizza was good, and not a bad price (special 5-7pm on Fridays), however, they have a long way to go to earn our praise.

Stay tuned in…we have great plans for adventure tomorrow in El Valle de Anton. Thanks, for once again reading and sharing.

Buenos,

Greg and Jen

 

 

We are about to experience Carnival full blast.

We have been hearing for several days that Carnival in Panama is quite an event.  As I was writing our last post, Carnival began to sound like a winter storm in Michigan. The stores run out of supplies, there is no gas and traffic is at a standstill. Carnival starts officially today and ends on Tuesday night. That’s a 4 day party across the entire country. Many people here call it a drunk-fest and “no place for children”. You all can probably imagine the kind of Mardi Gras type stuff that will be going on. We understand that yesterday they turned all the lanes of the Trans American Highway to head out of the city for a period of time so that all the people could get to their weekend homes. The condo we are renting is owned by an American, but most in this building are owned by Panamanian people from Panama City who come here for vacation and weekends. It seems that the building is full now and the party here will be mild compared to elsewhere in the country. We are comparing it to our home on an inland lake in Michigan where a large percentage the properties are owned by non-residents. We only see them on the weekends and 4th of July. This week is like the 4th of July; they call it high season here.  The fireworks started on Thursday night. We think it must have been some kind of kickoff celebration.  Needless to say, we will be staying put here until Wednesday morning. We went out yesterday morning to pick up a few last minute supplies and driving here was like demolition derby/gridlock.

The main reason we went out yesterday was to go to our 1st meeting with our Spanish tutor, Jasmine. We were interested in learning more Spanish and Jasmine came highly recommended. Jasmine was all business, and our 1 hour session was packed full of important Spanish that we are to learn before next time. We are already finding it helpful, and are attempting to converse with one another as much in Spanish as possible. The Spanish here has a bit of its own Panama flare and most people here know a little English which gets mixed into conversation. The more we get away from the tourist area the less English speaking people we find. While we were out, we also filled the car with gas and picked up our passports from the courier. We found them stamped with our multiple entry designation. This will make customs easier, because we will be allowed to go through the line with residents. We can also enter and leave the country on a 1 way ticket. Tourists must have a return ticket when entering the country or they will not be allowed through customs at the airport or any check point at the border. Once a person gives up the tourist designation they are required to get a Panamanian drivers license. That process starts at the American Embassy in Panama City and ends at the local version of the Department of Motor Vehicles. We both have appointments at the American Embassy 1 week from Wednesday in the early morning so that we will hopefully complete the requirement and have our drivers licenses by the end of the day. The last stop of our excursion was to grab a few last minute supplies. We were literally scared to try to pull into the grocery store. The street out in front and the parking lot were gridlock. We ended up at the corner grocery by our condo. We have compared it to a 7-11, but by no stretch of the imagination is it a typical American curb store. We found it to have an ample supply of anything a person may need and fairly priced. We thought that the vegetables were even better there than the grocery store in town. We wanted to stop for lunch, however that stop was as equally frightening as the grocery store situation.

We have shared our research on the Fonda and even visited one earlier in the week. We learned that the translation for Fonda is food. These eating establishments intrigue us and we love to try them. There is one at the end of the street by our condo and it is our new favorite place to go. We can walk there and it is tasty, cheap and friendly. Our first experience with it was Wednesday. The offerings were Pollo Fritas (fried chicken) and Pollo Salsa (broiled chicken with Salsa). There was also some kind of boiled meat that we did not try, and Sopa (soup). The soup offering was Sopa de Costella (rib soup). We did not try it but others around were eating it and it looked good. All meals come with rice, beans, salad, and plaintain. Jen had the fried and I had the salsa chicken, we both had bottled water and our bill was $9.60.

After we took care of our groceries we walked down for lunch yesterday and had a similar experience. Jen again had the fried chicken and I had the Cinta Guisada (steak stewed). The steak was tender and delicious like swiss steak. We brought our own drinks and our bill was $7.50. Don’t let anyone tell you it is expensive to eat out here. You must be open to new experiences, and ready for adventure. We will try this place for breakfast soon, and let you all know how it goes.

We have been guilty of not taking many pictures. We wanted to share a couple of more photos on the roof. It is absolutely beautiful up there, and where we will be spending the majority of the next 4 days.

 

Our next Session with the Spanish tutor is Wednesday. Thursday we are planning to head to the Azarro Peninsula about 2-1/2 hours to the West and South. This will be our 1st official adventure excursion.

The most important thing we have learned is:  me gustaria el cuenta por favor (may I have the check please). That is the simple Spanish lesson for today.

que tengas un buen sabado!

Greg and Jen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Visit Our First Roadside Fonda

Our day yesterday started out as we planned with a walk East on the beach. The tide was low and we walked past some lovely homes. We probably did not walk as far as it seemed, Upon our return we went to the pool on the roof and enjoyed a nice swim. Every day we learn a little more about the area. The people here are really nice and forthcoming with information. We met a couple who has lived in this building for 3 years and they suggested that we may find better shopping West on the Pan-American highway about 45 Km. That was just the opportunity we wanted to get on the road again.

We ventured out around lunch time with the intention of stopping along the way at a fonda for lunch. We also thought we would, perhaps, check out some possible housing options on the beach along the way. We are trying to familiarize ourselves with the housing market here should this be where we would live. I am not sold on the area, but we are both in love with the beach. Our windows are open at night with the waves crashing and it is very peaceful just sitting on the balcony looking at the ocean. The highway is divided with limited places to turn around. Heading West, all the beach homes are on the other side of the highway so we located a few nice places but did not stop. Just prior to finding our shopping destination we stopped at a fonda for lunch. The menu was nicely written on a piece of paper and the proprietor welcomed us.

He spoke just enough English to make us comfortable and we understood enough Spanish to know we were going to get a decent meal.  Jen ordered a Chuleto BBQ (BBQ Pork Chop) and I ordered Bistek y Cebollas (steak with onions). Both meals came with all the accompaniments, arroz (rice), lenteja (beans seasoned with peppers), ensalada (salad), and tejadas (fried plantains). He offered up a limon con resperado to drink. We agreed and he brought the most incredible fruit drink that looked like iced tea but tasted very sweet and fruty. Our food was awesome and our bill was $12. $5 for each lunch and $1 for each drink.

After a wonderful lunch we took off toward the store. We wanted to shop ahead a little because this weekend is Carnival. They tell us that the whole country turns into 1 giant party and everything will be closed from late Friday until next Wednesday. We have also been warned that it would not be wise to be on the road and prior to the holiday all the stores will be out of everything (sounds almost like a winter storm warning).  We will report on Carnival as it happens, however we will be staying home and suffering through it in our own resort like accommodations. We are hoping to see fireworks from the balcony.

We picked up a few things at the dollar store, got a few groceries and headed back. We did not stop to check out any of the home projects, but we saw a few that we will check out on future excursions. We did make a couple of stops for fruit along the road. We hear that this can be the best way to get a Cantelope, Watermelon, Bananas, or Pineapple, but they don’t all have everything. You also cannot buy vegetables along the road very often, and I’m sad to say that the vegetables in the store are terrible.

I am planning to go to the gym on the roof and Jen says she will be going to aqua-arobics this morning. We are planning to relax by the pool for most of the day.  It is hard to keep track of time. It seems like every day ends much too quickly.

We have the name of a lady here locally who teaches Spanish. We are making arrangements today to get into a class. This adventure would be much better if we could better communicate. Please continue to follow along . We will try to keep it real and interesting.

Welcome to the roof at Coronado Bay
Roof Top Pool at Coronado Bay
Our view from the roof East

 

We thought you may enjoy some pictures from the rooftop. Dondequiera que erstes, esperamos que estes caliente. translated Wherever you are, we hope you are warm.

con un cordial saludo,

Greg and Jen