Saturday, January 9, 2010
Relax! It's Panama!
after an ice storm in B'more and sprinting for another flight in Miami, we landed safely in Panama City. Panama City has a mix of normal looking housing and then very tall and new sky scrapers that we were told foreigners live in. No wonder people like to call it the "Miami of the South"! The B&B that we stayed in is located on Ancon Hill (former intelligence bunker area) and is surrounded by forest. Hanging bananas off a tree attracts several birds, squirrels and monkeys, and both of the latter know how to peel the bananas.
We toured the city with a guide named Austin (of African via Barbados descent), from Colon (city at the other end of the canal), and first saw the "old town" section, named Casco Viejo. This area was where the Spanish rebuilt Panama City after the really old town section—Panama Viejo (now ruins)—was destroyed by Henry Morgan and his pirates around 1670. All of the Spanish church and government people lived in this area and many of the houses are quite nice. Sometime in the 1950's or 60's, this area fell out of favor and disintegrated. Now that it is a World Heritage site, people are moving back in and buying and fixing houses. The Panama President also has his office there.
The other highlight of the day was visiting the Panama Canal. The picture above is the Bridge of the Americas, going over the entrance to the Canal. We know it's touristy and everything, but this was truly an amazing technological feat for 1903. Egyptians built pyramids, medieval people built cathedrals, modern men built the Panama canal! The canal has 3 sets of locks to take ships up and down about 100 ft. The big ship in the picture is a "Panamax" ship, the largest that can fit inside the locks. The fee that this ship paid to cross was over $300,000 (USD), but remember that it only took 8-10 hours to cross the canal instead of 21 days to go around South America.
Hope you enjoy the photos!
Chrysa + Quentin