Panama Canal

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Panama  , Panamá,
Monday, June 11, 2012

This one is going to be brief and perhaps quite boring for anyone that isn't too interested in engineering. That said, it would be a travesty to not write a few words on one of man's all time greatest engineering feats (perhaps second only to Ponte Tower in Hillbrow), the Panama Canal. Dazza, you can stop reading now.

After finally disembarking our yacht in Portobelo, we headed straight for Panama City where we planned to indulge in just two activities. First up was to gorge ourselves with as much food as possible after contracting kwashiorkor on our sailing trip. Even the dietician herself contradicted all of her valuable knowledge by devouring back to back McDonald's meals almost immediately after arriving in Panama City. This definitely proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Super Size Me was just a cruel piece of unfounded propaganda. After 8 years of denial, Kel has finally seen the light. The big, bright, arch-shaped, yellow light. I'm lovin' it.

With stomachs bursting, it was time to have a look at Panama's most famous icon, the Panama Canal. Some might argue that the the nation's greatest icon is in fact the Panama hat, especially schweet okes like Mike Varney that wear these hats to various nightclubs in Joburg, but that hat is actually from Ecuador. So the canal it is and off we went to Miraflores lock in order to watch a few massive ships pass through the canal. It was a truly fascinating experience to see a huge container ship squeeze into the lock with mere inches to spare on either side and then get lowered several meters before passing through the lock, all within the space of a few minutes. Even more impressive when you consider that the lock has been in operation, without any significant modifications, for almost 100 years.

We spent a good few hours watching several ships pass through the lock. We also watched an informative video of the construction of the canal and visited a museum that provided some staggering facts and figures about the canal's construction. Here are a just a few of them:

The French started construction in 1890 under the leadership of the same man that built the Suez Canal. 13 years later, the Frenchies abandoned the project due to widespread disease and unforeseen difficulties with the terrain. The Americans took over in 1904 and finally finished the canal in 1914.

The canal is 77km long and is one of the seven engineering wonders of the world.

34 years were spent building the canal, almost as many years as the Good Doctor's life to date.

About 27 000 people died during the construction.

Most expensive toll paid, $330 000. Cheapest, 36 cents, paid by a crazy American that swam through the canal.

Gatun Lake was built in order to provide a water source for the canal. Regardless of the direction of travel, ships have to first travel uphill into the lake (using the locks) and then travel downhill (again using the locks) into the other ocean. At the time, Gatun Lake was the largest dam ever constructed.

Kelly Lynch ate back to back meals at the Panama Canal McDonald's in June 2012.

Some pretty remarkable stats, maybe SANRAL ought to consider what these guys managed to do over 100 years ago before whining about the difficulties of adding another lane to the N1. Useless moegoes. Anyway, we all thoroughly enjoyed those fascinating few hours spent marvelling at mankind's ingenuity, but it was soon time to move on as we needed to catch a bus into Panama's coffee region. More on that next...
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The Good Doc on

Well done Wabbey...even supposedly a boring entry you still manage to make superbly entertaining. Exceptionally interesting fact there about Ms Kelly 'arch of gold' Lynch in June 2012.
As for the Good Doc's now not so top secret age...the big 3-4 is still many moons away...

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