Wow, that's a big drainage.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Voyager International Hostel

Flag of Panama  ,
Sunday, January 2, 2005

I have more or less skipped the other Central American capitals; Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Managua. Traveling quickly through them in order to catch a connecting bus or because that's where the road runs. San Jose I didn't even go to, because it was way off my planned route. Anyway, none of them are known to be great cities, although I am sure they all got their extremely well hidden charm. Panama City however, is one of those exotic sounding places. A city I really want to see, and not just because of the Panama Canal. So, what better time to visit this party capital of about one million than New Years Eve. Most backpackers I have met lately seem to have the same idea, it's Panama City for New Year! Welcome the new year by partying until dawn and beyond in one of the city's many fancy bars, lounges or clubs. We, Lisa, Ben, Steve and I stay a few days visiting the city's main attractions, including Casco Antiguo (aka Casco Viejo) and Panama Viejo. As well as the impressive Panama Canal of course, at the Miraflores Locks.

"The length of the Panama Canal is approximately 51 miles. A trip along the canal from its Atlantic entrance would take you through a 7 mile dredged channel in Limón Bay. The canal then proceeds for a distance of 11.5 miles to the Gatun Locks. This series of three locks raise ships 26 meters to Gatun Lake. It continues south through a channel in Gatun Lake for 32 miles to Gamboa, where the Culebra Cut begins. This channel through the cut is 8 miles long and 150 meters wide. At the end of this cut are the locks at Pedro Miguel. The Pedro Miguel locks lower ships 9.4 meters to a lake which then takes you to the Miraflores Locks which lower ships 16 meters to sea level at the canals Pacific terminus in the bay of Panama."

We watch huge container ships take this man made shortcut between two different oceans. It takes on average about 24 hours, including waiting time, for a ship to go through the whole canal. I guess that's well spent time, as well as money, when you consider the alternative of rounding Cape Horn at the tip of the South American continent.

....The big night is here! Aaron, a carpenter turned author from Idaho, has invited the whole Voyager Hostel to his apartment down by the waterfront for a warm-up party (aka vorspiel in Norwegian.) The city views are truly impressive from his pad on the 16th floor. And even more so on the roof, another 16 floors up. The whole hostel turns up and we end up staying until 2AM drinking and watching the very random fireworks. 2AM is however still very early by Panamanian standards. Especially on a day like this. We visit several different clubs, and it's about 10:30AM in the morning before I head home in a taxi. The club is still full of people, but I've had my share of drinks so far in 2005.

I wake up with a soar head, heading out for some food I notice that the newspapers date read January 2nd. Guess I kind of missed the first day of the year. Tomorrow Lisa, Ben, Steve and I will leave Panama City. We are heading off on what we hope will be a very exiting trip. It will take us 5-6 days to reach our destination. We'll be far away from Internet access, so it may take a while until you hear from me again and my latest adventure.

Oh, I almost forgot, ¡Feliz Año 2005!
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