(Note: this post was written two months ago (!) in early October, but I had trouble with the video at the time. So, without further ado...)
To celebrate our first three day weekend here in Central America, we managed to escape the grind of the (suburbs of the) big city and explore a bit of Panama's mountainous interior. On Friday afternoon we sped away from the madding crowds and, after a mediocre meal at a road side cafe, found ourselves enjoying the cool breeze in El Valle de Anton, a small town in the crater of a dormant volcano.
Our hotel, a satisfactory place which once housed a gaggle of local golden frogs in danger of extinction, has a nice hike in its backyard which leads to the famous "square trees of El Valle."
You can't really tell very easily in the picture, but the cross section of the tree is fairly square-ish (or "cuadrado" as the locals say).
For dinner we tried an Italian place run by an actual Italian! He explained that the pizza oven wasn't working, but he had many styles of freshly made pasta. The Eldest attempted to order spaghetti, the only pasta available that wasn't freshly made, but we disallowed it. The meal was well worth it, especially the lasagna.
We went to bed soon after sundown, so I woke up early and went for a run in the foggy mist.
Did I mention that the grounds of the hotel were impressive?
The big event came on Saturday morning: zip lining amongst the waterfalls!
The waterfall feeds a stream which feeds a carved-out "swimmin' hole" and The Big O decided that he'd like to give it a try. We didn't bring suits, so jeans and no shirt it was. But temperatures involved were a bit chillier than back in the lowlands. The resulting glacial decent prompted his twin to walk right past him and swim her little heart out. He made it in eventually, after torturing himself for quite a while.
After a trip back to the hotel to shower and change, we got lost looking for the trailhead to the hike up La India Dormida. Eventually it revealed itself and we kept reminding each other what the wise folks online had written: "since the trail to the peak is not at all marked, you can either hire a guide, or just turn left any time you have a choice." We took many left turns.
It was getting late in the afternoon and the womenfolk decided to turn back while us guys tried for a final push to the top.
We were rewarded...
We ended the day with pizzas from the now-working oven and a conversation about infinity, as is our wont.
Hotel Campestre - beautiful grounds, adequate room, interesting breakfast. The hotel seemed like it either once was, or could be, an amazing place, but didn't quite follow through. That said, it's certainly nicer, or at least more unique, than your run-of-the-mill hotel.
Pizzeria Ristorante L'italiano - recommended, especially the lasagna and the pizza. 6682-9398, just off the main road, run by Roberto Febbi