El Valle

Trip Start Jan 01, 2001
Trip End Dec 28, 2010

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Flag of Panama  ,
Sunday, November 16, 2008

- Today it was a drive to the town of El Valle, a small village sitting at the bottom of the crater of an extinct volcano. The drive there was very pretty, the road was good and it made a pleasant drive. The town is famous for its Sunday market and there were lots of food and souvenir stalls. After an early lunch we then drove back into Panama City to visit the area called Mi Pueblito, it is an area in which they have recreated the feel of a 1900's town, an Afro Caribbean town and an Indigenous people's town. The basic concept is good, unfortunately they have not really looked after the buildings and it is decidedly tatty in places. The typical display was a period house complete with furniture, a replica church, town hall and school. One thing that was good was the museum of Pollera dresses; these were mainly all between 50 and 100 years old and had all been hand stitched and embroidered. Even though that old the colours were still very bright and attractive, with the detail involved in them you can quite easily see how a new one costs around $50,000 to buy.
17th - A final day lazing round the camp.
18th- Back into Panama City first thing as we wanted to go to the Seaboard Marine Office to book the ferry. On arrival we were advised that we would have to come back after 2 pm to get the paperwork. After that we wanted to post a parcel to America and went to the Post Office, you can imagine our surprise when told that they would not accept the parcel because it had parcel tape securing it, apparently we are only allowed to use glue. We then planned to go to a large mall to do some shopping, the adverts stated that this was the largest shopping mall in Panama, but it was obviously aimed at the locals, they had T shirts on sale at $1 .99 each or cheaper in bulk, the problem was you were not allowed to try anything on. As a result after lunch we went to the hotel to drop of John. We left him at 3 pm and then started to return to the shipping office about 20 km away, unfortunately the road quickly turned into chaos. In principle it was a 4 lane road, 2 lanes in each direction with very few traffic lights but several intersections with no lights. Approaching one of these intersections the traffic came to a stop which lasted quite a while and as a result the traffic in the side street decided to just drive out and block the traffic coming against us until a space occurred. That is bad enough but since the traffic was not moving more cars came out the side until there were about 5 cars lined up trying to get into our line of traffic an therefore no traffic could move on the other side of the road. Eventually we crawled forward and approached the next intersection, about 200 m along, and exactly the same thing happened only this time to make it worse we had a couple of buses and some taxis driving from behind us down to the junction to try to get into the line of traffic trying to get in from the side. Chaos does not really describe it; the problem was an accident in front of us that involved a car coming in from a side street and hitting a truck. This almost blocked the two lanes of traffic on our side; by law here you are not allowed to move the vehicles until the police have arrive at the scene and taken measurements hence the delays. In the end we arrive at the office with two minutes to spare but were successful in getting the documents.
19th - The next few days are going to be spent tidying up and getting the vehicle ready to sail. We have to make a bulkhead to fit just behind the front seats as we did shipping it to the USA; in addition we have to remove anything that can be stolen, such as the reversing monitor and spotlights.
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