El Valle de Anton is such a beautiful area that going again was not a boring thing at all. We had visited the Butterfly Haven, the Zoo and Botanic Garden, the Orchid Garden, the Craft and Vegetable Market and the Golden Frog Inn. Going to the El Chorro Macho Waterfall was just as beautiful and interesting.
Blue Morpho butterfly
Gardens at Golden Frog Inn
Once again we had to take the same road up from the highway and this time saw all the schoolchildren playing outside and the schools locked up. Interestingly, none of the children was in the playground areas with equipment but seemed to prefer playing in the streets with their friends. On this trip I took greater notice of the various buildings on the side of the road and noticed that every few kms there was an open, cement floored, covered ‘hall’ without walls. At the far end was a room. Lyn explained that these were the community’s meeting places for any event – weddings, funerals, birthday parties etc. Members of the community each donated a certain amount and, depending on the amount raised, a ‘hall’ would be built. The room at the back was a kitchen. For any event word would be put out and everyone attended and if there 2 celebrations on the same day that was fine as everyone would already be there.
Something else I noticed was the number of Se Vende signs outside homes and a few which said Se Alquila. Some looked fairly professional while others were simply hand painted on cardboard. These were For Sale and For Rent signs. Apparently not long after purchasing a place it will be put up for sale as the property market was really in the doldrums and selling could take years. As with the ‘hall’ I didn’t manage to get photos of the Se Vende sign and only got a smart Se Alquila one on an estate agent’s building.
The For Rent sign
This time we didn’t stop in El Valle itself but drove to the end of the main road and turned right toward the waterfall which was about 10mins away. Once entry fees had been paid we made our way down a set of stairs to the first of a number of suspension bridges. These were not big, beautiful and tarred like those on the main roads but made of wood, rope and some steel, where required. The first bridge took us across the river, which was actually very low due to it being the dry season, to the waterfall itself. A lovely spot just to stand and take in its beauty. There is something about moving water that is very soothing.
Crossing the first suspension bridge
At the waterfall
The lower half of the 35m drop
We moved on from there crossing a couple more suspension bridges, one of which was a little rockier than the others, but there was no rush. This one had extra steel enforcements and good rails on to which to hold. The foliage was lush and beautiful with tall and short trees, creepers and of course orchids everywhere with just the odd one in bloom.
The river was very low
At one point we came to a man-made river water filled swimming pool. We didn’t try the water but we could see that it was cold from the reactions of 2 children who were swimming. Children are so resilient. They were with their parents and grandparents who are all from the Netherlands. Father of the children works for a Dutch company in Panama City and the grandparents were visiting. Interestingly the grandfather had lived in South Africa as a child so we had a most interesting chat.
Beside the pool
We went across final bridge and just before ascending some stairs we stopped at what is probably the oldest and largest tree in this jungle called the ‘Don Bateo’. It was truly large and its roots were big enough to sit on. There were a number of orchid plants on its trunk. It was here that we saw a sign telling us that at one time there was a proposal to build a hydro-electric plant on the river but the owner of the land vigorously opposed this and won his case. We were so glad that he did as it is such a beautiful and relaxing place to visit.
Sign about the hydro-electric power
Don Mateo Tree
Vicky & Lyn with Don Mateo’s roots
Unfortunately visiting here is not suitable for wheelchairs or for people with very small children. It would not be a problem for the active or even reasonable active, such as myself, no matter your age. The stairs and paths are uneven and can be slippery but with caution they are manageable no matter what your age. Something else you can do if you have the courage is zip-lining.
On our way home we stopped to take 2 photos in the town, one of the school and the other of a public pharmacy.
El Valle school. Note that it is blue and white
A Public Pharmacy painted in blue and white
We ate lunch at the Tsunami Restaurant in the beach village of El Palmar where there is a surfing school and we spent a wonderful time watching some youngsters being taught to surf. We also enjoyed watching Pelicans and Terns diving for fish but didn’t see them catch any. It was here that we saw the black sand of most beaches in Panama due to the high levels of Titanium from the volcanic activity.
Black sand of the beach
Pelicaans diving and flying over the sea
Tsunami Restaurant and a Tower block
Our next 2 days were spent in and around Panama City.