Friday, January 19, 2007

Questions About El Valle de Anton from a Reader, Part Three

In Part One, I answered questions about dry season wind in El Valle de Anton, average temperatures, and internet access. In Part Two, I looked at a property that Zach, a reader, is thinking about buying, and offered my opinion.

Zach wrote in response, "I'm disappointed but value your honest assessment... I think my main concern is the bus noise and diesel fumes. I'm surprised to learn that the street is a (busy?) bus route. Where are these buses going? Any idea on their frequency?"

So I headed out this morning with Laura and the baby to time the frequency of the buses. Hey, I have to blog about something. And it gives me an excuse to get outside in the sunshine and the breeze, and enjoy the local scenery, and lets my readers see more of El Valle.

We drove to the lot with Salma sitting in her car seat, looking out the window and babbling happily. I parked the car in the shade at the front of the property at exactly 10:30 am and proceeded to eat my breakfast of scrambled egss with black beans and hot sauce.

I decided to do a half-hour photo survey, taking pictures of the buses that passed. I missed the first two because I was still eating my eggs and couldn't get the camera out fast enough.

This minibus was the third bus to go by. It passed the property and headed out toward the end of the La Piedra Pintada road.

A few minutes later it came back, returning to town. So the end of the route is not too far away. As the sign on the bus says, it goes from El Valle to Panama. Standard fare is $3.75 to Panama and the buses end up at Albrook Mall. Notice the lovely forested hillside in the background. As usual, you can click the photo for a much larger version.

A big diablo rojo came from the direction of the Oriente Market.

It stopped immediately in front of the property to board a passenger. This one was belching diesel fumes.

And then continued up the road. This bus, oddly enough, did not come back. That was the last bus in the half hour test period. So, five buses in 30 minutes, with one of them passing twice.

This pickup taxi is typical of the taxis that operate within the town limits in El Valle. Of course many other vehicles drove by as well, as well as dozens of pedestrians, includling locals going into town, children, dogs, and tourists walking out towards the painted rock. At one point a small Datsun drove by honking its horn. The driver had a cooler in the back seat and I suppose he was selling fresh fish that he had caught down on the coast that morning. Many vendors do this. Some have a special tune that they play, but many just honk their horns.

This house is catercorner. The signs on the tree and fence proclaim that they sell cypresses, juices, arraucaria (I don't know what that is), ornamental plants, popsicles, drinks, ice, jello and ice cream.

This little corner store is only a few dozen meters from the property. Certainly handy when you want a cold drink, a candy bar or an emergency roll of toilet paper. These types of small corner stores or kiosks are scattered throughout the back roads of El Valle and all Panama towns.

This little place, offering fried frish and Panama style ceviches, is even closer than the corner store. Just a few paces down the road. And if you need a dose of evangelism to go with your corvina, look at the fish store's larger sign below:

It says, "Kiosk Jesus is My Guide: fried fish, ceviches, saus (sauces?), sandwiches, chicken, drinks. Open until 12:30 am."

Great if you need a midnight snack.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of backroads El Valle.


Laura in Panama said...

Ah, the zen of living.

Every home I have lived in has had its share of negative features (the great S.F. apartment on one of the toughest streets of the "Tenderloin" or the charming 1924 bungalow in Oakland which survived many attempts by hostile, unaccounted for neighborhood youth to break windows with stolen citrus fruit). We would like to think moving to a foreign country of great beauty and affordability would free us from having to accept attributes that are undesirable in our living spaces. I don't believe this is possible as it is the design of living for negative to balance positive, darkness to balance light.

If we accept that our choices cannot be "perfect" our focus can be redirected toward what degree or type of imperfection we can tolerate. I for one could tolerate the buses passing this lot.

The lot is large which creates the opportunity for a large setback from the street. In addition there are a myriad of creative ways to filter both noise and exhaust. Not to mention that the land is affordable, has terrific views, mature trees and if you should need to catch a bus to the capital, it couldn't be easier.

Zach said...

Hi Wael and Laura -

We spent most of this weekend pouring over your pictures, our pictures, a cheesy map of El Valle from the Moon guide book and your descriptions of this neighborhood.

Laura's comment has been our conclusion as well - nothing is perfect - what attributes are we willing to compromise on?

The truth is that we are particularly sensitive to traffic noise. About 6 years ago we purchased a house on a very busy road and, long story short, we hated it and sold it only 6 months later at a loss. When we purchased the house we didn't think the car sounds would bother us and learned the hard way that we appreciate 'tranquility'.

That said, we love everything else about the lot; the size, the vegetation, the views and the price.

We want you to know that we really appreciate all your help and observations. Already we consider you valued friends. When we make it back to El Valle the corvina, Snickers and vanilla-fudge ice cream is on us!


Wael said...

Hi Zach,

Corvina and Snickers, yes, but not together please. Vanilla fudge ice cream is only available down in

Coronado, but the few times I have bought Haagen Dazs down there I have found that it was icy and

crystallized, probably because it melted and re-froze at some point. Laura bought an ice cream maker on

her last trip to the U.S., so the ice cream will actually be on us.

Yes, I'm a big fan of tranquility as well. What your real estate agent told you is correct - buses ply

almost all the paved roads here in El Valle. Some are more trafficked than others. Of course many of the

back streets here are dirt, gravel or grass, and there is very little traffic on those. My house is on a

grass street and there are so few cars that go by every day - maybe three or four - that it warrants

looking to see where they are going. Half the time, they are coming to our house. Of course the

disadvantage of this is that the road is bumpier, and it gets pretty muddy after a big rainstorm.

I'm not familiar with the Moon guide map. The only detailed map of El Valle is made by a company called

Rutas de Aventura -

It's sold at David's Shop and a few other locations here in El Valle, but I don't think you can order it

online. It's slightly out of date because of the rapidity of new construction here. And the building

labelled "Muffins and Brownies" is, as far as I can tell, a ruined house with a rusted sign that says

Villa Ana Rosa. But for a tourist map, it's surprisingly detailed. I don't mind mailing you one if you like.


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura.
My husband and I myself are coming to Panama in mid May and we are right now deciding if we should rent a house down at Playa de Coronado and/or in El Valle. We already found a house in El Valle and we really like what it offers. However reading your block I would love if you could tell me on which "site" of the road this property is:

Here a description:

when you get to El Valle, you will find “Centro Comercial El Valle” and Texaco gas station on the right hand. Turn right where the Texaco is. That is Capirita Street. About 300 meters, you will see a soccer field in a corner, on the left hand. Do not turn left. Continue straight on the narrow street. The house is the fourth house at left side.

Laura, since you live in El Valle would it be possible for you to find a little bit more information on the house and the location aside from what our realtor explained to us? I really truly appreciate your comments.

P.S. We have no icecream machine... but if everything works out ...well a dinner in our new home is on us :-)

Best wishes