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Published: March 19th 2018
Well, we’ve made it through the new locks of the Panama Canal. What a fascinating experience it was....do you agree? Now, the ship is anchored in Gatun Lake (the man-made lake between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean with the canals at both ends). We have taken tenders to the shore. Our land excursion begins here. Lots of riding for us today (Wednesday, February 21st) so I hope you brought your comfy seat pillows with you...just in case it gets bumpy. We’ll be roaming around the new lock area, head to Colon and end at Cristobal. This will be a six hour trip by bus and railway. All Aboard! Here we go!
The many, big tour buses are all lined up in a row when we reach land by the tenders. Each bus takes its passengers on a different excursion. These tours are very well organized and you are quickly directed to your correct bus. We have a very nice bus with comfy seats, big windows and air conditioning. Lulu loves it. Our petite guide’s name is Rose. She carries a faux rose like a flag so we can keep track of her and where we should be. Bev and
Ed have joined us on this excursion. Sam & Sandy stayed back on the ship.
As we leave the parking lot, we travel along the new locks of the canal expansion that we just floated through this morning. Our guide is very thorough and informative as she narrates throughout our tour. We ride along the Rainforest....scanning the trees for sloths. If there were any, I didn’t see one. They move so slowly you wouldn’t know they were languishing in the trees. We were told they come down from the trees one a week to go to the bathroom. Obviously, their intestines move slowly, also. At one point, we saw a man in a parking lot holding a sloth for the tourists to see. Our bus sped past. We had a quick look. We did see a big iguana scoot up a hillside ....ugly!
We drove to a tourist spot where we got off the bus and walked around a viewing area of Gatun Lake (our ship was easily within view from here) and a portion of the canal. They had a restaurant, small gift shops and a little theater where we watched a short movie about the construction
of the canal. Sounds fine, right? WRONG! When we gathered in line to get into the little theater, I felt something on my leg. OMG. Help!! It was a big mosquito that I promptly hit and knocked to the ground. The bug is dead but I’m probably a goner, too! Was it a Zika virus mosquito? Oh, no. We had been warned about them and it was suggested to wear long clothing and use bug spray. I had neither unless I wore my formal wear from the ship! I would have stood out like a fancy, dandy lady had I done that. Now I wish I had. Since when do I care what people think? I placed Lulu next to this vicious, dead mosquito for a picture in case I needed documentation when being placed on a death bed. I reported this to Rose, our guide. She laughed and laughed (how inappropriate and heartless) and said there were no Zika Virus mosquitos in this area. How does she know? We are close to a jungle! From that point on, I kept a steady watch on my leg and waited to become deathly ill. Of course, the main concern about this
virus is for pregnant women. I am a far cry from that. Whew! Thank God for being a Senior Citizen. As the days passed, my leg showed so no signs of a bite so I must have murdered the chewing varmint before it caused me any harm. Lulu was so concerned and fretful for me. What a sweetheart. She was very glad the dastardly insect was dead when I placed her next to it for a photo. An unpleasant event to remember but wanting to forget! We wasted no time jumping back on our bus.
We traveled along on many different roads that took us past many various buildings and people. We saw the buildings and homes where the workers who built the original canal lived. We saw small to high rise buildings that housed the locals. Most looked very poverty stricken as did their market areas. We did go past a nice, large shopping mall as well as some better looking buildings. It was quite the mixture of architecture and status. As we got closer to Colon, we saw a large boat stranded on the shore because the tide had gone out. You could see a huge area
of the dry waters bottom here. Again, I’ll let my pictures (38) do my talking for me........hey, I heard that! And, remember, I could be on my last legs...so be kind.
Once we got to Colon, we boarded a restored, deluxe, 1938, vintage executive rail car with booth seating on one side and rows of two seats with small tables on the other side. We sat at the little tables as did Ed & Bev. The staff provided us with a nice snack box of goodies as well as drinks. We had a uniquely labeled Diet Coke can and Cory had a can of Panama beer.....souvenirs for later. The railcar had a restroom (quite rough & rugged) and a small open-air observation deck. Lulu liked it out here.....free as a bird she was! The hot air blowing through her knotted hair. She was singing at the top of her lungs with joy. This railroad was this hemisphere’s first transcontinental railroad, built in 1855. It was a delightful ride through part of the rainforest and countryside. Our train ride ended at Cristobal where our original bus took us to the pier where our cruise ship had now docked. Before getting
back on the boat, we passed through several tents of vendors trying to sell their local wares. I did buy a bracelet. Sucker. It was a long day but a super fun day. Once in a lifetime for us.
The four of us (plus Lulu) arrived onboard just in time for dinner. We found Sam & Sandy and headed off for another mega meal. This time we went to another dining room instead of our assigned one. Looked just like the one where we usually ate. Had different waiters is all. Every meal is a superb dining experience. After dinner, we made our way to one of the many bars and listened to a very nice singing duo. There was a group of oriental people there. They danced to the musical tunes....and what great dancers they were! They must have taken lessons. It was enjoyable watching them. 非常漂亮的舞者 Fēicháng piàoliang de wǔ zhě.
Our comfy, luxurious bed was more than inviting once back at our stateroom. Lulu jumped in it before we could even turn the light on. Sleep came instantly. Good-night. See you all in the morning. Pray for me that I don’t come down with the
Sandy & Lulu pose
Zika virus disease!!
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