Panama is one of the those quiet gems. You know it’s there, but don’t really understand how much beauty is in one country. Ever been to Miami? Well, Panama City is Miami with a drop of pizazz, a splattering of culture and a whole lot of wonder! I’ve been to Panama about seven times in the past few years. I guess I have partaken in my fair share of water from the Gatun River! No matter how many times I return, I always manage to find something new and exciting. I’ll try to make you laugh- on one occasion, a few friends and I broke away from the weekday calling of work and ventured into a boat that took us to the middle of a lake outside of the city. The tour leader had planned a few ‘fun’ activities for the group. Our options: You could sun bathe on the deck (I’m Nigerian- I don’t play that), you could relax with a few adult beverages while letting your taste buds run wild, you could hop on to a smaller boat and go fishing, or play around with Sam! Who is Sam, you ask? Sam is the massive greenish yellow snake that lived on the ship. If I said it probably weighed 15 pounds, you’d think I was exaggerating. I promise, I’m not! Apparently Sam liked to hang out around the necks of guests (*snaps finger over head in a circular motion* while exclaiming in my deepest Nigerian accent ‘lai lai). The tour leaders brought the snake out and tried to wrap it around our necks. Once I saw him approaching with the massive creature, you would have thought the results from ancestry.com showed I was related to Usain Bolt! My bolting skills (pun intended) were impressive.
During one of my visits to Panama, I explored the Panama Canal. It is absolutely mind blowing how much revenue is generated from the Panama Canal on a daily basis. Ships passing through can pay as much as $800,000 or more to cross the canal. What is exceptional about the canal is the engineering. The mechanics used to configure the operation of the canal was well before it’s time. You can read more about the canal by going to…ahhh, never mind. Google is your friend.
On my last trip to the canal, the Vice President of the country-who happens to be a woman- sent a car to pick me up and granted me access to the new canal in Cocoli! This was a big deal because VICE PTESIDENT and only a few people had been granted access to tour the new canal. No, I’m not a name dropper but sometimes you have to get in where you fit in, n’est ce pas? The new canal recycles over half of the water it uses and can accommodate larger ships than its older counterpart. The little million dollar European built tugboats (as seen in the pictures in front of the larger ship below) are incredibly powerful as they guide the ship on either side as it passes through the canal. While the new canal isn’t open to the public yet, when it eventually opens up, you’ll be able to explore the museum, watch a video of the history of the canal ( in English or Spanish) and, of course, watch the ships go by.
No trip to Panama City is complete without a trip to the Panama Canal (where you can done and watch the ships go by) and Casco Viejo!
Fun Fact: Though the canal is one of the main generators of income for Panama, the banking industry is its numerò uno money maker.
Cocoli Locks: The New CanalMiraflores: The Old CanalMy guide for the day! He’s part Trinidadian! The best rolled Ice Cream Ive ever had was here: Ay Mi Negra!