El Valle, Panamá

Life in the Bodhi Hostel, El Valle, Panama

April 25, 2015

BLOG: Life in the Bodhi Hostel, El Valle, Panama

El Valle is a small town. From what I hear from Diana the real estate agent whose office is next door, the town is mostly native Panamanian peoples, some with old time, quite large homes here and a smaller group of white folk many of whom come here only for the weekends.

I can understand the appeal of a trip up to about 2000 ft., because just at dusk, a sweet cool breeze comes up and lowers the sweat factor very nicely for everyone making the evening hours conducive to conversation and assorted kinds of hanging out, including the late dinners favored in tropical climes

It is the same at the hostel. Our population, of course, changes often. Some of our traveling brothers and sisters are intent on their travel and many do come here because the geology and geography are rather unique: living on top of a volcano even if inactive for 200,000 years, does have something quite interesting to offer the traveler.

Some are making their way in the reverse direction than what I have come as they are on their way northward, some to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and Belize.

People come from all over the world and they are on their way around the world as well. I have met in the past week or so young people from all over Europe – France, Germany, Norway and Spain- Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, the US, and Australia. It is a fascinating group of very awake, totally charming and talented people. A young man hailing originally from Argentina has painted us a 5×3 ft. image of a meditating blue Buddha now gracing out main hall.

The idea of a hostel is independence. This place has a downstairs dorm which will sleep about 12, an upstairs single bed dorm for another dozen and two single rooms suitable for a single person or for couples. There is a bathroom with double toilets for men and women and a shower area outside under the 20foot high corrugated roof with two showers for women with a toilet alongside and 3 showers for the men all this behind a bamboo pole wall anchored in cement blocks, lashed together with hemp twine standing about 8 feet from the ground laid down on a bed of quite ordinary grey stones which are extended across the whole area under the roof. It is set off with a side yard behind a chain link fence with a bamboo screen planted in pots over the whole distance.

Within the yard are barrels cut in half with tree stumps for seating, strung is a clothes line often draped in small hand laundry. A screen wall made of pallets stained charcoal makes an aisle next to the building for all the shelves and bins for recyclables. Next to this, also divided by a pallet wall planted in bromeliads and ferns, is a lounge area with a pair of squishy grey cotton sofas and a hand-made long blonde varnished wood table with benches for people sitting to meals.

Inside the building is a kitchen well equipped with a giant fridge, storage, lots of counter space for the cooks, a sink and racks for the dishes, the usual propane stove, a blender, utensils and cutlery. There is at those times of the day often most amazing delicious, even gourmet meals coming forth from our traveling chefs. Life on the road with a staggeringly huge back pack can have some rather astounding perks. Gourmet, indeed!

At the main entrance behind one of those roll down sliding garage doors favored across Mexico and Central America offering steel barriers against the street is a lounge area. There are arranged there sofa sitting with foam upholstered pads set on double pallets grey with red and pink puffy pillows. In front are those same barrels as in the yard, painted green on the top surface.

That pull down and lock steel door has a large graphic lotus and hand on it, the rest of the front aspect of our section of a larger building is also painted with equally arresting graphics: a Buddha head and the whole of the front areas two stories high are made like a sun graphic with rays of bright orange and yellow. Outside there are two large pots also with bamboo stands planted. There is a white tile front area bordering the building with a gravel parking lot extending to the street. At one side is a locked door with a code system allowing people 24 hour entry to the dorms and the rest of the building.

Finally the front desk is on the aisle, with a desk almost 5 feet high, buddhas on one end, manned and womanned during open hours, approximately 8 am to 9 pm, on an aisle before with a stack of bikes for rent.

It becomes home for a day or two, or a week while exploring the valley sights, visiting the many cultural restaurants, or the local market simply stacked with local, (you guessed, didn’t you!), naturally organic produce: fresh watercress, tomatoes, corns, cucumbers, beets, yams and sweet potatoes, carrots, beans, celery like you have not seen unpackaged, sprawling with green, green leafy tops. All of it nourishes us and all of it is really inexpensive: I have eaten from that stand for 6 days on a donation of about $15.00. This works!

This kind of accommodation allows the budget to be extended, always a wonderful thing, but more importantly, I think, to get to know and experience many people from many places. What I have personally noticed is that here are attracted people intent on making a world of love, kindness and the grace that is about compassion, consideration and respect. I feel very fortunate that in my own present circumstances that I can park the van in front, sleep in my own energy, and give an honorarium for a daily shower and the signal for internet which really facilitates my journey.

So, while I work out what is to be for real for Journey of the Lotus, I am safe, have found some friends, and respect. Thank you very much.

And thank you very much for your attention. Your encouragement makes a huge difference. Love and many blessings, Amraah