The Enchantment of the Beautiful Mountains of El Valle

El Valle I am told is one of the best places in Panama for watching tropical birds found in the valley and in the cloud forest.With 350 species of birds that have been registered in El Valle and the surrounding area, it has me excited to wake up at the crack of dawn at the first sound of morning birds!DSC02048El Valle is an approximate 45 minutes drive from Coronado and is a beautiful town high in the mountains of Panama, on the floor of the largest inhabited volcano crater in the world.The road is curvy and narrow and caution should be taken driving towards El Valle with Panamanians driving fast. Once a crater lake, this quiet village became home to Indians from the surrounding mountains who have been there for thousands of years.It is an extremely scenic drive up the mountain, and you can feel the temperature become cooler than the intense heat of Coronado.


We left to go to El Valle from Coronado for 4 days to Cabanas Potosi which is a beautiful jungle location with beautiful gardens.Dennis Wenthold and his wife Mireya greeted us with relaxed and accurate directions on how to get to the local waterfalls, rivers and restaurants. They gave us fresh mango juice,very extensive recommendations and offered us a ride into town. The room was beautifully decorated and they made sure we had everything that we needed including many ripe grapefruits from their trees.


Mireya prepared a special herbal tea blend from her mint tree for my very sore throat which was now getting very painful.

We then walked to a beautiful river and waterfall about 30 minutes away and hiked up the river.It was Chorro Las Mosas Waterfalls along Rio Anton. There are natural swimming areas where local youth venture very dangerous jumps in to the pool below.There is a danger to slipping and falling on the rocks hidden under the water and ending up in one of the caves below.There were several beautiful cascading waterfalls near a slippery rock face.We went for a wonderful hike and I took many beautiful pictures with my Sony camera. I was reaching over to get a great shot of the river at an angle, while climbing on rocks and to my shock and dismay the camera fell in the river. I think you can see from this picture how it could be fumbled. I am constantly humbled and learning!


I retrieved it floating quickly down the river, but even after such a short soak in the water it was not to be resuscitated. Glenn tried by drying it out with rice in a bag but it remains sadly quiet and unresponsive to this day. I loved the quality of the pictures it took, however it was not hardy enough.As careful as I am with a camera the constant danger of sand, rain and dampness after swimming in the ocean demands a waterproof camera.Last year in Costa Rica my favourite Panasonic quit after a light splash of a wave while hiking.

In town near a small grocery store we saw what looked like the local method of transportation. They all climbed into the vehicles shown, and the corner store appeared to be a waiting area.


There are many sloths is El Valle,so many that we saw a sloth crossing sign. We were told by the owner that a baby sloth was hanging from their door.The evening birds had an absolutely  amazing chorus. Later that evening I realized that I was going to have to seek medical treatment for the sore throat, as it was not improving with various other  herbal remedies that I had brought. We sadly had to cancel the rest of our trip in El Valle so I could go and see a Doctor. I had not at all seen enough of this beautiful country area.

Dennis offered to drive us to Coronado so I could see a doctor.I was very grateful. We went to a clinic near the shopping mall in Coronado. After a very short wait in the air conditioned office I saw the doctor on call, Dr. Levy who spoke English very well. He was knowledgable and friendly. He confirmed after taking my vital signs that it was indeed a nasty local flu that had been going around Coronado and prescribed antibiotics,probiotics and pain medicine. After my visit I paid $15.00 US to the office. Getting the prescriptions was also very efficient. Everyone lines up along the counter and the prescription is filled quickly as you move down the line sideways from speaking to the pharmacist(no English) to the check out. Of course I looked up the medication and it was nowhere near anything that I felt comfortable taking.I continued to take the oregano and echanesia and ASA that I had brought.At least I had medication on hand in just case. In our travels, I must say that was the worst sore throat and fever I have ever experienced. Glenn bought me a new camera which was a challenging feat to say the least. It is a Pentax, very hardy and destruction proof. It did not have the battery in the box we discovered after we travelled back so we had to return and wait in line at the Coronado department store. We are learning to maintain a sense of humour and be relaxed grateful and lighthearted.

After two more restful incredible days in Coronado at one of Sarah’s great beach front accommodations, we travelled to Playa Venao (45 minutes outside of Pedasi).We had planned to take the bus there, however there was conflicting evidence and no accurate schedules.”Just stand at the bus stop” did not work for us at this point as the story about how to get there changed. There was a couple from Sweden who had a challenge with the bus to Bouquet and ended up back in Coronado. We hired Pedro to drive us from Coronado to Playa Veneo, which is approximately a 5 hour drive and it was thoroughly entertaining! Pedro loves the land and had a variety of anecdotes, history and stories. The highway turned into vast and wide country with incredible trees, farm and rangeland. There was an opportunity to get lost driving in towns along the way such as Las Tablas, but he expertly navigated us to our remote destination in Venao with charm and ease.

My next posts will be on Playa Venao,Pedasi,driving the Pan-American Highway, Isla Boca Brava and Boca Chica.We are on our way in the morning to a far away island snorkelling. I am taking my SPOT!





By horsecounsellor

Kim Mowatt, a #1 Bestselling author, neuroscience-educated Registered Psychiatric Nurse, Mental Health Clinician and founder of Wise Women on Horseback, has drawn on 35 years of experience to write her soon to be published, innovative self-help book series. In her books, Kim uses solution-focused, scientific and evidence-based techniques to assist others achieve mental wellbeing resulting in lasting happiness.

Kim co authored the #1 Bestseller Emotional Intelligence for Women: Mental Health Matters, an inspiring book offering a set of supportive tools and stories to help women conquer negative influences, harness the power of psychological wellness and thrive emotionally.

A longstanding member of the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of B.C, Kim is registered with the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals, specializing in stress, anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Verified by Psychology Today, Kim was acclaimed by 100 Mile Mental Health and Substance Use Clinic for her development of client programs using Heart Science Biofeedback, Neuroscience, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

A Certified Riding Instructor and Ride Communications Coordinator for the Backcountry Horsemen of B.C., Kim and her husband raised their family at Chrome Heart Ranch, a therapeutic riding retreat. Here, Kim developed the Wise Girls equestrian program, in response to the mental health needs of young people. Clients visiting this unique sanctuary from around the world learned how to reset their hearts and minds, to help navigate through anxiety, depression, loss and change, to find calmness and inner peace.

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