Water and Rain

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Panama  ,
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Panama City is a very large city with many modern skyscrapers along its shore and is dubbed the "Miami of the South".  Our main objective here was to see the canal and head north to a smaller town.  We started our day by heading out to Casco Viejo, the old city which laid in ruins for decades by locals who preferred to move to the more stylish areas being built around the city.  The old city is now a Unesco World Heritage Site and is slowing starting to restore its original colonial charm.  We really enjoyed being able to see it during this rehabilitation process.  The cobbled streets and dilapidated buildings provided along side the renewed buildings gave it quite a bit of charm. 

We took a taxi to the Panama Canal Miraflores Locks.  I have to say it was really impressive to see.  I wasnīt expecting it to be quite so cool.  The canal unites the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at one of the narrowest points on the North American continent.  The canal has three sets of locks that elevate ships by water 85 feet to the level of Gatun Lake and then lower them back to sea level on the opposite site.  Water raising and lowering in the locks by 38 inches per minute.  The ships are guided by railroad type cars through the narrow canal so they remain control through the passage.  The canal operates 24 hours a day passing 36 ships per day through.  The average cost for a vessel is $89,000.  I will try to put the pics on in sequence.  Watch the white building in back to get an idea of what is happening.

We headed up to the town of Bouqete to spend our 7th year anniversary in a quite, hillside town at the base of the countryīs only volcano.  However, the town and area is experiencing a storm of the likes that they say only happens every 100 years.  The river is bubbling at its seams and some bridges are closed.  A few houses have slid and there was one death.  So most of our anniversary was spent water logged going to dinner and reading in our room.  We can tell the town is beautiful and is home to many, many American & Eurpoean retirees who have made this their second home we just didnīt have too good of timing. 

Panama has been an interesting country.  Though we arenīt spending enough time to really get a grip on its culture and dig deeper we have had a chance to appreciate it.  The currency is called the Balboa however only US bills are used.  The bills we get are always crisp and new that it seems every one we spend gets turned in for a new one.  The Panamanian people are diverse looking with descendants a mix of indigenous, Spanish, West Indies, Chinese and African. I suppose a lot like Americans diverse appearances.  The local buses are mostly made up of retired schools buses that have been painted in elaborate colors with cartoon characters or religious relics painted on them. The locals are very nice and helpful. 
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