|The Panama Canal. Up close. Personal.|
I'm not going to reiterate the whole history of the Panama Canal and pretend that I knew it when I was copying wikipedia, but let's just say that (a) the building of the Panama Canal was a monumental engineering achievement, (b) it is the seminal event in the history of Panama, and (c) it is extremely important to the whole economy of the Republic of Panama.
The skies opened up and it started pouring rain on the drive over the Miraflores Locks. It lightened up by the time we got to the Miraflores Locks, which are about eight miles from the Port of Balboa alongside the canal. Eight miles may not seem like much, but considering that the whole canal is only about 48 miles long, that's a decent percentage of the entirety of the canal's length.
The purpose of the locks is to raise ocean-going ships from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake, the middle section of the canal, 85 feet. Here is the view looking down at the Pacific side of the locks:
|Miraflores Locks: downward view|
|Artist's rendering of workers shoveling away rock on the original canal construction project|
Alas, I had paid my driver for only a four-hour tour. So there was no waiting around on the off-chance a ship would roll through. So it was back to the Country Inn & Suites in the old Canal Zone. I was planning on walking down the Amador Causeway, but the skies really opened up and it was coming down in sheets of rain for the rest of the afternoon. Apparently this is the "wet" season in Panama. There is a dry season. It lasts for about a week and a half late January, early February.