Hey, everyone. Sorry for the break in action, but I was laid low last week by first a cold and then some bad chicken salad. If you want to start this series from the beginning, start here.
I think there is a rule that you can’t go to Panama without seeing the famous locks. Especially with me being an engineering geek, this was high on the priority list. The closest locks to Panama City are the Miraflores Locks. They are pretty easy to reach and the government has constructed a very nice combination tourist overview site and museum. The entrance fee is $15 for non-residents. I should make a quick note that while they take U.S. Dollars everywhere, there are few places that take credit cards. This was one of them so save your cash and earn some miles here.
We went straight to the observation area where you have a choice of resting in the covered bleachers or hand out on the railing overlooking the locks. There is a narrator explaining the action in perfect English all the time. She identified the ship coming into the lock and how the operation works in detail even down to the rate of water level change (3 feet/ minute). It doesn’t happen fast, but it is truly awesome to think of the enormous effort required to construct this engineering wonder that we take for granted.
Some yachts were transiting the Canal, but they were not going to cycle the locks just for them. They had to share the space with the huge container ship shown approaching. I’m sure they were a little nervous about that!
The ships are pulled into place by four little silver locomotives. You can see all four of them near the bow in the right-hand picture above. They are used to stop the ship when it gets into the right place.
Going, going, gone. The ship descended 27 feet and is ready to move to the next lock. Although you cannot see a radical difference on the container ship look at the masts of the yachts which have almost gone out of sight.
The locomotives then pull the ship into the second lock and the process is repeated. After this they then sail on to the lake and eventually to the two other sets of locks in order to finally reach the Atlantic Ocean. A pretty cool process that everyone should see to understand exactly what goes into providing that plastic ware on Walmart shelves. The museum is small but first class. It was especially interesting to me as I actually had a relative work and die of Yellow Fever building the Panama Canal. This was only half of our day and more to follow tomorrow on the rest of that day’s adventures.