We spent a very happy birthday exploring the inland town of El Valle (the Valley). This town was built in the crater left from an inactive volcano. We had heard that this was a really special little town and was a nice drive up into the mountains. We were not disappointed.
First challenge was getting there. There is a bus in the next town of Coronado that should take us there. We grabbed a shuttle from our marina and rode the 7 miles into town. There was quite a crowd at the bus stop as we got out of the shuttle. OK, we just need to watch the front of the buses. Several went by, but none said El Valle. Ken used his best Spanish and asked a bus conductor if his bus went to El Valle. "Si, si" So we hopped on. It should be a 45 minute ride. After the first hour, we became concerned and googled the directions. We had passed the turn off! Ken again asked the conductor, "El Valle"? "Si, si", so on we went. After an hour and 20 minutes, we realized that we were not going to turn and we were quite a ways out of the way. Just then the bus stopped and the conductor said "El Valle", which means the Valley, apparently not the right Valley! Great, here we were on the side of the road in the little town of Anton (does this sound like El Valle??). We crossed the road and waited for a bus going the other way. If we didn't make it to El Valle at least we would end up back where we started. Along came a bus that Yaaay…..said El Valle! We climbed on and rode for 30 minutes until the bus pulled over and everyone got out. Where were we now? Ken asked the driver "El Valle?" He pointed to a bus stop with a bunch of people waiting. We joined them. Along came another bus and Ken again asked, "El Valle?" Si, si was the reply. We began to climb on the bus and realized that the bus that should have held 24 people was now holding over 40! And there were people behind us getting on! We squeezed into the center aisle. This "bus" was more like a van and quite short inside. Ken stood hunched over and holding onto the side of a seat where a mother and baby sat. Dale was motioned to come forward…."what???" A girl climbed out of her seat and motioned to sit down. Here we go….a bunch of clowns in a clown car! Around the curves at warp speed up into the mountains. These buses stop whenever someone stands along the road and holds out their hand. So as we were speeding along, bam! the driver hits the breaks and everyone lurches forward. Apparently the two gringos were the only ones that found this odd as all other riders never missed a beat. As we stopped at the first stop, everyone shuffled to allow yet another passenger on. Dale looked out the window and saw Ken standing along the road…..where is he going?? She tried to get off, but was squeezed into a very tight front seat. Beating on the window to get his attention and saying stop to the driver who was coasting along slowly. All of the Spanish speaking passengers looked at the crazy gringo lady. At last, Ken re-entered the bus. He had to get off in order to let someone else on. Over he hunched and along we went. As Dale had a good view of the driver and we were barrelling along the road with a steep drop off on one side and an embankment on the other, she watched to make sure that he was paying attention. OMG……he was yawning and nodding! Hey….hey….wake up! OK, he seems to be with it now. No, no, not the cell phone….texting?? Ugh! Around and around we went, Ken clinging to a seat and doubled over and Dale watch dogging the driver.
The area was beautiful and it was such a relief to stop that we were ecstatic to be in this beautiful little village. The first place that we went was the central market place where we bought some fruits and vegetables. We wandered the stalls and enjoyed the ambiance. Next up was a Panadaria (bakery).
As we were walking and looking at the little shops for a place to eat lunch, we noticed a familiar restaurant. Carlitos was near our marina and here was another. We had made friends with the owner, Alice, in San Carlos. We looked across the street and there was Alice, our lunch destination was decided. We enjoyed our lunch and were treated to a short tour of the town by our friend. We heard some of the legends about the sleeping Indian mountain and a bit about the locals.
Time to get back on the bus and head for Coronado. Not nearly as crowded and only one bus change. It was a very interesting, but exciting day.