The Canal

Panama City Travel Blog

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Plaze Cinco de Mayo

My brief stay in Panama City was supposed to end today as I was to meet the boat I was scheduled to take to Colombia this afternoon since it was leaving at 6am Saturday, however that was pushed back to Saturday afternoon to accomodate two other people and leave with a full boat. The bad side of this was that i didn´t find out until I was already set to leave for the boat early Friday afternoon after rushing back from the canal. But anyways...

Some impressions of Panama City: the streets are choked with traffic with loads of colorfully painted old US style school buses (the city buses) swerving in and out of lanes, since I didn´t know the city too well it was hard to determine which buses went were.

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
But at 25 cents all over the city its a bargain. Crossing the street is another adventure, though there are crosswalks and policemen occasionally help people to cross by stopping traffic, most of the time you just begin to walk and see if the cars will stop for you. Sometimes they do, other times they just honk and speed up. It seems to be best to cross in groups. The word yield doesn´t seem to play into the driving vocabulary here. The weather has been hot and very humid. Temperatures around 90F with 85% humidity make it seem like you are walking around in hot wet blanket all the time, its really quite draining. Most people seem to be covered in a sort of permasheen from the sweat. A lot of the stores on the streets stretch out all the way out to the road forcing everyone to walk through their aisles of trinkets and creating large bottlenecks on the sidewalks.
Two ships crossing to the Atlantic
Tomorrow is Mother´s Day, a national holiday here so there should be some interesting street life around tonight. The prices of things vary widely, a 600ml soda is $0.55, a Whopper combo at Burger King is $4, gas is $3.30 per gallon, bottles of good rum were $6.

The Panama Canal was amazing from a technical and engineering standpoint. Moving such a massive ship as those container ships up 50 feet to meet the water level in the interior was quite impressive, especially considering that there is only 2 feet of room on either side of the ship between edges of the canal. However, it certainly isn´t the fastest transfer in the world. It takes about 15 minutes for each of the lock stages to fill with water and raise the ship part of the way. The whole time the ship is being guided by chains that are attached to trains on either side of the ship. The trains run on tracks the lenght of the locks and part way into the man-made lake on the other side. While it is amazing, it is certainly less than enthralling, especially while being subjected to the unrelenting heat and humidity.

Next entry: Travel to Portobello and the sailing trip to Cartagena 

etatdesiege says:
Excellent blog. Very good. Keep up the good work.
Posted on: Dec 29, 2008
postaltiburon says:
Thanks for sharing the great advice and your impressions of Panama City.
Posted on: Feb 12, 2008
jscalise says:
Andrew, your Father sent me your journal address. I am enjoying your commentary and pictures. I look forward to reading more. Best wishes, Jim and Bev Scalise.
Posted on: Dec 20, 2007
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Plaze Cinco de Mayo
Plaze Cinco de Mayo
Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
Two ships crossing to the Atlantic
Two ships crossing to the Atlantic
A diesel tanker coming into the lo…
A diesel tanker coming into the l…
The tanker in the second lock
The tanker in the second lock
Moving toward the Atlantic
Moving toward the Atlantic
Panama City
photo by: Biedjee