Saturday..........Panama Canal and Gamboa
Panama City Travel Blog› entry 95 of 129 › view all entries
Katya picks me up at 9 for a day trip to the Canal and Gamboa. The Miraflores Locks are about 20 minutes from Canal House. A large, modern visitors’ centre was built there recently, which includes a museum on four floors and a short presentation film of approximately 15 minutes. Entry is USD4, which includes the museum and film, very good value.
When we arrived it was raining and many people moved back from watching the ships go through the locks, which gave me an opportunity to get a good view, rain and all. It rains here for about 9 months of the year and during the short dry “high” season, roughly coinciding with the Oz summer, the humidity drops by 50% but Panama is overcrowded, including many people from cruise ships which go through the Canal.
It takes around 8 to 10 hours for the ships to make the trip through the Canal from one coast to another.
There is a good souvenir shop. Sadly many of the local souvenirs are not items that most people would actually use, whereas the souvenir shop has useable items.
The largest ex-US base, once used for offices and accommodation, out of the 19 bases previously in Panama, is located across the road. It is now used as a centre of learning.
The idea of the Canal was first mooted and started by the French in the C19th, who had numerous problems, not only with the weather (my goodness it rains a lot here), but also Yellow Fever and malaria.
Not so long ago in Oz there was a really good doco on the building of the Panama Canal, so I remember a lot of things that are mentioned.
After the visit to Miraflores we go to Gamboa, a rainforest resort about 20 minutes drive. At 11:45 I am booked to go on a boat tour to Monkey Island. The boat leaves on time, but less than 10 minutes from shore the captain is nervous and says that the rain threatens to come down suddenly and so we return to shore.
I take Katya for lunch in the bar/lounge area of the resort. I have a prawn cocktail, but the sauce isn’t as nice as the one that Judy and I make.
At 1:15 I go on the boat trip. It’s rather fun to be on the Panama Canal. We go to Monkey Island where there are Capachin monkeys which even come onto the top of the boat, and turtles swim close by. All tempted with food, of course. Later we see a sloth asleep in a tree and the captain revs the boat up to make the howler monkeys howl; they do this when they feel threatened. I don’t like the latter, but I suspect that the monkeys only howl by association, not because they are scared.
We get back to Canal House around 4:30 and I walk down to Buzios again, order the same meal as yesterday. That should be boring, but it isn’t, it’s yummy again. Go to souvenir shop near Buzios and buy more souvenirs.
When I go back to Canal House there’s a lot of noise. Saturday night and the locals are playing music very loudly. Jasmina rings the police at least twice. She’s told me that this has happened before, but tonight is the noisiest that it’s ever been. Eventually around 10 everything quietens down.