The El Valle market is a combination of locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables, to be sold to Panamanians who come from villages farther up in the mountains, and crafts like molas, which are for tourists. Molas, which are hand-stitched pieces that take hours and hours of work and incredible sewing skill, sell for $25-$40, which is a pittance compared to the work involved. They are done by the Kuna Indian women, whose people live on the Kuna Yala island region of Panama, on the Caribbean side.
There weren’t many tourists, and they were painfully desperate to make a sale. I don’t buy much — a few things for Archie and Else — and it’s really hard to turn away when I know how much the vendors need the money.