What else? The Panama Canal

Yesterday I visited the Panama Canal.

This is part of one of the chambers of the Miraflores locks – the first of three on the canal. From the water line you can see how far the water needs to go. It apparently fills faster than your bathtub – but being substantially larger than your bathtub still takes a while. It usually takes a vessel eight hours to travel from one ocean to the other.
There are two people walking across the tracks on the right side of the photo about halfway down.

In the first photo, the boat is still waiting. In the second, it motors on. This was a passenger boat, but the carriers that pass through fill approximately the whole lock. They are in the process of creating new locks that will allow vessels twice as wide to pass through.

Photo of a photo – but it demonstrates the largeness of some of the boats going through the canal. The crates pictured on the boats are commonly seen in the US on freight trains.

This map (in the museum) shows the route of the Canal. Panama City is barely visible on the far right. The concentrated string of lights also to the right is where the majority of the construction of the canal occurred. Pacific Ocean to the right, Atlantic Ocean on the left.

And photographic evidence that I was at the Canal (you can see it fuzzily behind my left shoulder.

Definitely a fascinating object, the Canal (should it be capitalized?). From its history with the United States, the jobs it brought, the lives it cost (which was conveniently glossed over in the exhibits), the correlative commentary on materialism and globalization, the question of its expansion, the ecological ramifications (one floor of the (small) four level museum was dedicated to wildlife and the ecosystem surrounding the Canal. I did not, however, see anything regarding the ecosystem that was destroyed by the construction of a waterway through the middle of a rainforest. Just a thought)…

All in all, an interesting (if not very scenic, although I’m sure taking a boat down it would be quite picturesque at points) place to visit.

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