Is it a big ditch or is it one of the greatest engineering feats of human history?
The answer is yes. There are several ways to experience the Panama Canal. You could hire on as crew of a giant container ship, which would entail months at sea and hard labor. You could spend several thousand dollars and ride through on a luxury cxruise ship, many people do. You can also go on a half day trip on a big boat out of Panama City and do a partial transit for about $100, sitting in a chair on deck with a few hundred folks for four hours. None of these were a viable option for me so I did a little reasearch and came up with three affordable and fun-sounding ways to see it.
First, I booked a full day trip that sounded really interesting and came well recommended to me. The cost was a mere $50. For that, I got picked up at my hostel at 8:30 a.m. and traveld with several others to Lake Gatton where we boarded a launch. Lake Gatton is a huge manmade lake created as part of the Panama Canal. At the time it was the largest in the world. We spent the morning chasing after cruise and continainer ships and viewing wildlife.
There are three types of minkeys that are native to the jungle in this part of Panama, and it is definitely a jungle out there! First there were the Holler Monkeys very high in the canopy and hanging by their tails. Then we saw some Capuchin Monkeys, so named for the white caplike markings that were once said to resemble St. Francis’ Hat.
And lastly we were treated to a sight of some Tamarin Monkeys, the smallest in Panama.
We also saw tons of birds and even an alligator. Finally we pulled up to a couple of houseboats that are owned by Cptain Jack who had run a very entertaining commentary during the morning. We had a great lunch. Afterward, some went fishing, some hung out on the house boat and I went kayaking down jungle rivers all afternoon.
I was back at the hostel around 5:00, deliciously tired. A great value and highly recommended.
The next day I took a taxi to the Mira Flores Locks and spent an hour shooting some stills.
I marvel at what the engineering mind could conceive and achieve 100 years ago. I was going to take the train the next day which you can ride for $22 at 5:00 p.m. from Colon bck to Panama City. You transit along much of the Canal in a dome car and also through total roadless jungle.
I have been trying to book a sailboat to Cartegena for a week. I had two lined up with some buddies but they both cancelled at the last minute because they did not have enough people. Some people wait around Panama for weeks trying to catch one. Well we just did and I slept on the boat, a 42 footer, last night so the train will have to wait for another trip.
We sail tomorrow night under a full moon to the San Blas Islands were we will spend two days snorkeling reefs and maybe meeting some Kuna natives. Then it is two more days at sea to Cartegena. Talk to you after I get there. Caio.