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Last updated 2010-03-30 00:08:19
On the 1st of Feb we departed Managua for Panama with a rest stop in San Jose, Costa Rica. We arrived just before 1PM. As always, the world round, the moment you step outside the Airport Terminal a thousand cabs are waiting to take you to the hotel or where ever. The driver we chose drove like a madman but got us into Panama City in just over a 1/2 hr. We checked in and decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. All I did is listen to Lenora as to what she wanted to do and where we would go to do it.
The following day we headed for a shopping mall (boy was it ever large)to visit a tourist booth. The young lady was very efficient and was able to book a full day tour through the canal, on a ship of course. That is booked for Saturday. The rest of the day we walked around the seawall and checked on a few different hotels.Tomorrow we move.Wednesday retained a taxi to take us to the three islands at the end of the long causeway. This is where the rich folks hang out. They arrive here in there yachts that have more sq footage than our house. Having spend a couple of hrs here we decided to visit the 'Old Town' or 'Casco Viego' This area is where Captain Henry Morgan came ashore to pillage and plunder back in the 1500s and then burned it. In the 17th & 18th Century it was rebuild and today many of the buildings are being restored with the help of UNESCO who have declared it as a World Heritage Site. There is even a 'Golden Altar' (solid gold) here that Henry Morgan came to steal. The preacher was smarter than the pirate. He painted it black so Henry didn't find it. From here having spend most of the afternoon, we headed back home by taxi, arriving there sround 6 PM. At 8 we headed out for dinner after which we called it a day.
The following day was a day to visit some of the museums in Panama City and to take photographs of what ever we could. It sure is handy having brought a computer along as I can work on theses pics while Lenora reads her paper back. In the evening we headed for a night club to be entertained by Panamanian Folklore dancers.
Today, Feb 5th we head out by taxi to see the first of the three locks of the Panama Canal known as the Miraflores locks. They have a huge viewing area here.When we walked out onto this area, there must have been a couple of hundred people there with the same idea. I was neat to see ships come and go within theses locks. It is hard to imagine that I went through the Panama Canal 47 years ago. Then we saw a movie albeit small about the canal and the future of it. Also available to us was a three story museum. At 3.30 we left there having arrived there at around 10 AM.
When we got back to the hotel we hoped that the tour co. had tried to contact us but to no avail. I Tried to phone them and then e-mailed the young lady from whom we had bought our tickets 3 days earlier. Still no success. At 6.30 I tried again but still no luck. I now was getting a bit worried as we had paid them for this canak cruise but we had no way of knowing at what time.
I spend a restless night that night as to how to contact them. In the morning at 6.00 AM I called the office and they would send a car to pick us up at 7. I tried hard but no- last lock you enter into the Caribbean sea of the Atlantic. Then it is only a question to continue to the city of Colon.
This was a wonderful trip with good weather to boot and good company. Now all we had to do is get on the bus for the 1 1/2 hr trip back to Panama City. It was a long day but a great day and an experience that many may never have had in their lifetime.
Just a few facts:
Panama Canal was completed on Aug 15, 1914, almost 100 years ago.
Gerry Klappe first went through the canal in 1963 on his way to Surinam, etc
Every lock or chamber ( there are 6 ) is just over 1000ft long
ach chamber uses 51 million gallons of water for each rise or drop.
Over 14,000 ships use the canal annually
Panama is building a new set of locks, running parrallel with the present one.
Present canal is 110 ft wide, the new one will be 180 ft wide
The new locks will re-use the water for lifting and lowering ships.
The new one hopes to open on the 100th anniversary of the old canal in 214.
the average ship pays between $ 100/150,000 to traverse the canal.
Sunday morning we made our way to the bus station for an 8 hr bus trip to the western city of David. From here we had intended to go north to the 'Boca del Toro Islands but the weather is not to promising. We did get caught in a rainstorm, the first rain we have seen since leaving Penticton. On our arrival in David we took the taxi to the Hotel Iris and checked in. By the time all that was done it was time to go for dinner, have our own little HH and finally turn in.
So instead of going to the islands and maybe sit in the rain for the next two or three days we took off for a small town to the north called Boquete for the day. Here we visited a wonderful private garden. It was full of bloom and and a real good chance of seeing another cathedral (although most of them are really worthwhile seeing) We met a Dutch couple that we had met on the Panama Canal, and when we returned to David for a second night we met another couple at our hotel also from the Canal. We ended going to dinner with them that evening. The city of David has very little to offer so we decided to head back part way towards Panama City.
At 9.30 AM we grabbed a bus and left to go to Santiago. This was only a 3 hr trip. Here too the city really offered nothing but the hotel we chose we could not refuse. We took a taxi into town to see the sights but only took a picture of the cathedral. The main street was nothing but stores selling all their goods at half price with noise that you can't imagine. We will only stay here tonight and move on again tomorrow to the little town of San Carlos along the coast, where we may be able to enjoy the beach.
We got ready to catch the bus at 9.30AM and for the first time thus far on this trip the bus did not show up within 5 minutes. It took 2.15 hrs for it to show up. Two hrs later we arrived in San Carlos but the hotel we had planned to stay at was under construction and was closed. We called a taxi and asked him to bring us to another hotel but all there was left was a resort, so we booked in there. So now we have both a beach and a pool.
This would be our base for the next three nights as we saw it. It was somewhere to rest and take it easy. Since the weather was great it suited us both. It gave me a change to catch up with my photos and Lenora could do all the walking that she wanted.
This morning we got a bus to a small town about town about 60 km inland, called El Valle. After checking in to a hostal we quickly found our way to the local zoo. We spend about 2hrs here recording the different animals that are found in this area.
Things are a bit hectic in town as there is a carnival in all of Panama. This is the same as the one that one gets to see in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Now we can hear the music coming from a parade down mainstreet. As small as this town and the parade is, they do like to celebrate.
We got back to our hotel just in time as the weather started to change, it smells like rain and is getting windy. We just may have to vacate our rooftop balcony. This town is now filling up with tourists as all Panamanians leave he big city in droves. They come to the small towns to partake in the carnival, which is a pre-lent celebration. We will leave here in the morning and head back to Panama city.
As we looked over the balcony in the morning we met up with a Panamanian who offered to drive us around to see some of the sights. We took him up on this offer and for the next 2 hrs we were all over the area. Then Lenora and I went for brft and the same fellow (Moses) was there with his wife and 2 children. I proceeded to present the kids with a Penticton pin and in return I got a Panamanian (flag) pin. As they left they gave us their phone # in Panama City and asked us to call them. Naturally we did. The whole family showed up at 7.45PM at the hotel as he started to drive all over the city, eventually ending up at a TGIF restaurant, where we actually celebrated his birthday. Yes, he had asked us to celebrate his birthday with his family. Very nice.
This will be all for this blog. We leave for Costa Rica in The morning and we'll send you another from there in about 2 weeks. Please continue to enjoy the warm weather as we are and we love hearing from you.
Gerry & Lenora [img:right:8369 ][img:left:8365 ][img:right:8369 ]