Blogs from Panama Canal, Panamá, Panama, Central America Caribbean


After a hearty breakfast aboard the Discovery, we all boarded small dinghies and headed to the nearby shore, docking at the Gatun Yacht Club. From there we got on a small van that drove us drove OVER the narrow lock (this road access is soon to be removed) to the Agua Clara Locks, the location of the new rolling gates on the Atlantic side. The Only other way to get to Agua Clara is via ferry or draw bridge. This over-lock opportunity will end soon but it was a great opportunity for us to get a perfect view of the operations along this very narrow access “road”. On January 19, 2015 eight mammoth gates, ranging in height from seven to nine stories were installed in the three concrete locking chambers. The locks were scheduled to open ... read more
The Third Set of Locks accomodates enormous ships
Explanation of the Rolling Gates Operation
Panama Hat Palm on the Tropical Trail

I was up by 6AM and was out and on a mission. I found Lake Gatun to be balmy, breezy and quiet except for the hum of the catamaran’s engine. No one was around. But I missed the southern cross. I later learned it is usually seen around 4AM. And sadly I couldn’t record the howler monkey’s morning calls, but the sunrise was spectacular. And the coffee and breakfast helped to ease the pain of my missed adventures. We cast off early in this sunny morning for our voyage on the open waters of Lake Gatun (and the Chagres River) crossing the division between the provinces of Colon and Panama, several times in fact. The Chagres River, marks the division between Panama and Colon provinces. It is the only river that flows into both oceans. We ... read more
Pilot Change in Gamboa
Gamboa is a busy place this morning
Gaillard Cut bisects the Continental Divide

This morning, our bus left the Holiday Inn in Clayton, and headed towards the Atlantic Ocean on Corridor Norte. While Roberto navigated our bus, Abdiel discussed Panama’s position on land preservation and environmental protection. He said that 42% of the land in Panama is protected by the government for green space allowing for water mitigation and natural flow to the canal. A portion of the same 42% of land is also used for parks where some of the protesting squatters live. He also informed us that Stanley Motta, who some may know from his calypso record label in Kingston, Jamaica, owns the Panamanian airline COPA (that some of us will use flying to Colombia). COPA makes up 14% of Panama’s GDP. Motta has become an extremely wealthy man and is very influential in Panamanian elections. Abdiel ... read more
Atlantic Bridge from the ferry
Toro Point Lighthouse in Shelter Bay
Howler monkey in San Lorenzo National Park

After an equally delicious breakfast at the Holiday Inn’s Ship View Cafe, we left Clayton for the Chagres River (the native name for crocodile) to see the Embera Indians. Along the way we passed the US Embassy and some very expensive homes. A school for wealthy Chinese residents was very impressive. Abdiel said the Chinese run most of the convenience stores in Panama and have made quite a bit of money. The Chinese were smart opening their shops during traditional siestas when other stores were closed. Chinese men were brought to Panama to work on the railroad for the canal. After the canal was built some went to California to work on the railroads, but others stayed in Panama to open their now thriving businesses. As we were leaving the city, Abdiel pointed out the egg ... read more
Map of Chagres National Park
Aguinaldo, our handsome "bow poke man"
Aguidaldo navigates the Chagres River

This is the day!! Breakfast at 6, on the bus at 6:30, on the boat at 6:45! We were to have our luggage outside our door by 11:30 the night before to be picked up by the bellboy and loaded on the bus to be driven to Colon, where we'll exit the boat. Luckily, we left the knapsack to pick up after breakfast and noticed that our luggage (and that of other travelers on the same hall) had not been picked up! Took the bus out to Flamenco Island and saw the sunrise over the Pacific. What, Susan, you have that wrong! No, the bay curved around so that the point we were on was actually facing East. Boarded the Islamorada, a 100 year old boat that used to belong to Al Capone! From url= read more
Mike Touching the Wall

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal February 18th 2019

Well, it's a month away but we were able to choose our seats on the plane to Panama City from Dulles, got a reservation for the airport hotel the night before the flight down, have the Panama City hotel information, and am gathering other things (mainly making lists, of course). Read the book about the canal construction and got very good feedback about the trip from a colleague at another Virginia community college. As usual, taking a few minutes to refresh myself with the blog page and how it works. Created a 'trip' for the week; still not sure how that works, different from just posting.... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal January 17th 2019

The idea of the Panama dates back to 1513 when Vasco Nunez de Balboa first crossed the Isthmus, the narrow land bridge between North and South America. A water passage between Atlantic and Pacific ocean. The European's recognized the potential for a canal and several proposals were made. By the late 19th century technical advancement and commercial pressure allowed construction to begin. Canal engineer Ferdindale de Lesseps led the Initial attempt to build a sea level canal. They failed by financial loss and personal losses from tropical diseases. Interest from the usa once France abandoned the project. The usa success was more converting the canal to a lock system and managing disease spread by mosquito's. On January 7 1914 the French crane boat Alexadrie Lavalley became the first to transverse and on April 1 1914 the ... read more
Panama city in the back ground

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal December 15th 2018

Thurs 13 – Sun 16 December - Day 48 of tour but Day 60 total - Panama City to Brisbane by 18 December 2018 Today we headed to David where we had a short flight to Panama City. In the minivan on the way to the airport, we watched the beautiful sunrise thinking that this might be the last sunrise I see for a while! As usual, Alfredo had organised a seamless negotiation onto our flight, and no sooner we were up in the air with Panama Air, we started our descent. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we knew this was going to be the most developed city we had visited during our whole 60 days away. Even the minivan that picked us up was new and had a covered trailer for our ... read more
Balboa beer the local beer of Panama
Our final dinner in Panama City (1)
Panama City Christmas Lights (1)

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal October 26th 2018

Ray and I have traveled through many locks in the world including the big one on the Yang Zhi River. The principle behind locks is quite ancient and simple - the river is dammed up and the locks are used to raise and lower boats by gravity. What makes Panama Canal unique is its strategic location and its history. The book of 'Path Between the Seas' by David McCullough is highly recommended for anyone who is interested and planning to visit this area. In the early 16th century Spaniards started to transport precious gold found in South America to Europe, the idea of a short cut through the Isthmus linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was entertained. The French began to built a canal in 1880 but landslides and tropical diseases (yellow fever, malaria) killed 22,000 ... read more
First view of a cruise ship
Our Discovery
Gatun Lake

It's about 6am and almost light outside. There are a number of large ships off our starboard side. They appear to be just sitting in the water, probably waiting for permission to enter the Canal but we are rolling right along. We've been through the Panama Canal back in 2012 on the Zuiderdam and we understand the operation of this transport system but it's a fascinating piece of history I'm eager to revisit. Karen can't understand such excitement this early in the day but quietly prepares for the day. I'm out the door and up to Deck 9 aft to take a few pictures of the new bridge crossing the Atlantic end of the canal, the Centennial Bridge. The one at the Pacific side has been there for many years, part of the Pan American Highway. ... read more
Centennial Bridge Nearing Completion
Entering the Canal
Our First Lock

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