Living amidst the re-modeling construction noise, schedules and deadline pressure, not to mention the language barrier, we decided to take a few short much-needed “stay-cations” in our beautiful adopted country of Panama.
The first getaway was in August – a glorious two-night stay in El Valle, located inside the caldera of an extinct volcano, about an hour and a half from Panama City. Since we needed to conduct a bit of business in Coronado (regarding the rental car), and Coronado is at the base of the mountain, we were able to combine the two trips. Because of its elevation (600 m), it is much cooler than Las Tablas and is surrounded by rain forest and low level clouds.
We chose Los Mandarinos Boutique Hotel and Spa because of it’s beauty and alleged tranquillity (more about that below). It was indeed a great choice. The hotel and grounds are simply exquisite. Many of you have already seen some of these photos on Facebook, but there are some additional ones below.
The hotel is separated into about a half dozen or so different buildings with the main building in a square around the outdoor swimming pool. It has an Irish Pub (yes…even in Panama- Jimmy says the mojitos were great!) plus another restaurant that served breakfast and dinner. The only drawback was that a few very LOUD children were in the swimming pool most of the two days we were there. Because of the way the hotel is built, (open air, around the central courtyard and pool), the very LOUD children’s voices echoed throughout the hotel.
Nevertheless, we were determined to enjoy our trip. We set out to explore, only to discover the main road through town was under construction, so we were unable to go to the hot springs and waterfall. Instead, we chose to visit the local zoo – another really great choice. Full of exotic birds and other creatures, as well as a beautiful outdoor arboretum.
We were also lucky enough to hit the local market on a day when it was open. I bought a beautful hammock (to add to the collection) and Jimmy made a new friend.
All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful getaway. The drive back down the mountain was quite the adventure though. It was raining, and the clouds were so low, the visibility was about 5 feet. I was busy holding my breath, so neglected to take any photos. Needless to say, we made it back home safe and sound. Stay tuned for the next adventure.