On March 21 we drove to the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. They are located a short drive to the west of Panama City. Yes, west of the city. The geography of the isthmus is such that the canal has a north (Caribbean) and south (Pacific) end. The drive was relatively easy and was our first time behind the wheel since we left Canada in November.
It turns out that taxis cost way more than we expected. I know what some of you are thinking: Uber! I did sign up and actually used it once. It is cheaper than a taxi, but the trouble is that cars that can hold six people are never available. We need a car that big because we have two friends who have joined us here in Panama, so now there are six of us to get from point A to point B. We rented a lovely place via Airbnb and thought it was closer to public transportation. Sadly it is not.
As I write this blog, we are enjoying it in the dark at times. The power has gone out a few times tonight. Apparently the power company is having a little trouble with equipment exploding…
We aren’t actually right near the exploding transformers. I told the owner/host the power was out and he sent that photo from a friend via WhatsApp. Anyway, back to our trip…
I am finding almost everything about Panama City to be more expensive than I was hoping for. I want to spend a fair amount of time here and really get to know the city, but it looks like that would cost more than I am willing to spend at this time. We might be heading off to Colombia sooner rather than later. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We still have a lot to do this week in Panama.
Below are a series of photos I took today of some ships passing through the Miraflores Locks on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The canal waterways are about 80 kilometers from deep water to deep water. There are three sets of locks in the old canal, which was completed in 1914. The newer Panama Canal expansion was completed last year, has only two sets of locks, and can handle bigger ships. Since the canal was opened in 1914, over a million ships have passed through. The fares depend on the size of the ship, but it is typical for a container ship fee to be around $200,000 – $400,000. The lowest fare ever was $0.36 paid by Richard Halliburton, who swam the Panama Canal in 1928.
The cargo ship we saw go through the locks was the Themistocles. For those of you looking for a tangential distraction, you can track the ship and lean more about it by clicking the link tied to the ship’s name above.
One last photo before I sign off on this blog. When we were landing in Panama, we had a good view of ships approaching and leaving the canal.