An El Valle Sunday these days

a drunk's best friend?
We really can’t be sure if this dog is a Rastafarian Terrier. Recall that Rastafari didn’t actually smoke the sacred ganja weed, but he DID own a brewery. Wouldn’t a well-trained Rastafarian Terrier watch your beer for you? In any case, there is an important background meaning in this photo. El Valle maintains bicycle paths. It also has some nice brick sidewalks. It’s local urban policy and maintenance was into that groove before the COVID epidemic hit, and in the hard times since the corregimiento has invested in its public infrastructures rather than in the representante and political entourage. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Impressions of El Valle on the second Sunday of September, 2023

by Eric Jackson

I did “the loop” in counter-clockwise direction more or less by accident. I might have gone to Anton, grabbed the bus from the piquera to Altos de La Estancia, then grabbed another bus and gone over the rim into the volcano crater floor that is El Valle. Instead the quickest thing available was to head west on the Pan-American Highway, get off at Las Uvas and take another bus for that uphill drive to El Valle. Then after my wandering and missions, take a bus uphill from El Valle to Altos de La Estancia and another downhill to my low-rent neighborhood of El Bajito.

The missions were to take some pictures, make some observations and purchases and most particularly to find me a new chacara.

I ended up getting a garishly colored new bag woven of thick nylon to replace my more typical chacara that now sports a hole that I patch with some safety pins. I’m thinking of a more appropriate and enduring patch, but that trusty old bag is ready for retirement.

First stop at the public market, first of all to use the men’s room, then to look at the handicrafts vendors about a chacara. Thing is, they are selling the little decorative ones at tourist prices, but are not into the thinking of quotidian functional customers, especially weird old hippies who would use a chacara instead of a knapsack.

Going up and down the street to the various merchants who deal in handicrafts, I found what will be a functional chacara. El Valle prices, however, tend to be a bit high. Not too high, given my need and resources and given how long I expect the new bag to last. Perhaps I miscalculate.

Workout in the gym behind the public market – might the next global chop sockie superstar have begun the journey here? Photo by Eric Jackson.

Then, down to the other missions. A bag of garlic bulbs and another bag of mustard greens — fundamental staples to go with my usual fare of rice or noodles. My big limit, being a buses and on foot kind of guy, is what I can carry. Thus no serious plant shopping on this day. I will be back for some of that, and will also be looking for seeds or fruits and veggies that can produce the same.


  • Compared to pre-epidemic times, it’s a dead market for a Sunday.
  • More European, less North American are in the mix of foreigners encountered. A business sign is in German. There are Teutonic young backpackers.
  • Interesting looking new restaurants and cafes have sprouted up, but there are few customers and lots of empty tables.
  • For all the hard times, there is an air of optimism in El Valle.
Looking down on the beaches
Looking down on the beaches from the road on the way downhill from Altos de La Estancia. I went past San Juan de Dios, El Chumical and all these churches en route to my barrio in Juan Diaz de Anton. Photo by Eric Jackson.

The way back? All these drunks, who were nevertheless outnumbered by the devout. In Altos de La Estancia, the mini-supers have everything behind barriers. It shouts out “HIGH CRIME.” I waited at a bus stop at one, right across from a store. Three drunks were congregated there. Was I the only guy who went into that store to purchase other than beer? Gotta do Gatorade to get through the sun and heat of mid-day.

The bus started out well nigh empty but filled up with people coming and going at churches along the way. The Catholics hold their own but mainly people’s Sunday missions were to worship at a plethora of Protestant denominations. One guy was carrying a box with a rooster. I didn’t notice any snake handling on the bus.

Coming and going, lots of abandoned houses and this palatial estate for sale on the road from Las Uvas to El Valle. And what IS that industrial or large-scale commercial thing going in north of me in Juan Diaz?

We will get by these trying times. And who will survive and thrive? Those with the will to endure, mostly.


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