Panama City & Canal

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Voyager International Hostel

Flag of Panama  ,
Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Panama Canal! What a feat of engineering -  but Panama City has its own charm too.

Our arrival in Panama City was not without dramas. First we were unfortunate to get an immigration officer who spoke no English. As Australians we did not have to buy a tourist card (entry permit) but some countries did. We could not get the message across. A kind traveller interpreted but our immigration officer still insisted we go back and buy the cards. The interpreter shrugged and said "Welcome to Central America - its easier to just do what she says". So we did. It is our fault really for travelling in their country without speaking Spanish! 

We proceeded through to the Luggage carousel to find it had been stopped and Avan's backpack was unloaded but Heatherīs was nowhere in sight! We hot footed it to American Airlines baggage office and logged a complaint resulting in a search being conducted. Eventually it was found in a corner already through customs. Now that is scary!  Not happy with AA again. They thought maybe someone had picked it up by mistake and then dumped it?! All very curious. Luckily there seemed to be nothing missing or disturbed.

With our time cut short by a day it now meant we only had 2 days and 2 nights to experience Panama. We stayed in a great hostel with lots of young travellers, in bunk beds, in a shared dormitory. We spent the first day looking around the very affluent looking city then socializing at the hostel with a very cheap cask of red and swapping travelling stories. On the 2nd day we visited the canal. We caught a local bus to the Miraflora Locks and visitor centre and were lucky enough to be there when 2 ships sailing in opposite directions passed through. The canal is 80 kms in length from Atlantic to Pacific. To allow for the transit of ships the canal uses a system of locks - chambers with gates that open and close - to raise the ships to 26 metres above sea level one way and then lower them back to sea level the other. Visiting the canal gave us the opportunity to see one of the modern engineering wonders of the world in operation. The Locks are all gravitation fed!.

At the bus stop on the way home we got chatting to an English couple, Martin and Heike. We teamed up when we got off the bus to explore some more sections of Panama City and a museum. It turned out they were flying to Peru on the same flight as us the next day.

That night we went out to a bar with a large group from the hostel of all different nationalities.

Panama City is a very modern, but cheap to live in, city. We wished we had allowed enough time to actually traverse the canal and get to know a bit more of Panama.

Footnote: Panama Canal is listed as one of The Seven Wonders Of The Modern World.
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