Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Casco Viejo, Panama

Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Quarter), also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe, is the historic district of Panama City. Completed and settled in 1673, it was built following the near-total destruction of the original Panamá city, Panamá Viejo in 1671, when the latter was attacked by pirates. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Panama City

Early morning approach to Panama City

Open-air barbers on the streets

Colorful buses

When the Americans left the Panama Canal Zone in 1999, they left behind a huge military barracks just east of the Miraflores lock on the canal. It still looks like a barracks with its green lush marching parade field surrounded by large boxy buildings except that now the old barracks make up the main Panamanian high tech park, Ciudad Del Saber - the City of Knowledge.  After more than a decade, it now houses nearly 100 tech firms as well as a few dozen NGOs, and several branches of universities.

McDonald’s ice cream stands

Mess of wires above the streets (trim the slack perhaps?)

The Revolution Tower (now known as the F&F Tower)

Patacones (fried plantain slices) and ceviche

Beware of crocodiles

Monday, September 2, 2013

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a 77.1-kilometre (48 mi) ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, 26 metres (85 ft) above sea level. Gatun Lake was created to reduce the amount of work required for the canal. The current locks are 33.5 metres (110 ft) wide. A third, wider lane of locks is currently under construction and the new locks could begin operations between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, roughly 100 years after the canal first opened.

The Panama Canal locks is a lock system that lifts a ship up 85 feet (26 metres) to the main elevation of the Panama Canal and down again. It has a total of six steps (three up, three down) for a ship's passage. The total length of the lock structures, including the approach walls, is over 3 km (nearly 2 mi). The locks were one of the greatest engineering works ever to be undertaken when they opened in 1914. No other concrete construction of comparable size was undertaken until the Hoover Dam, in the 1930s.

This diagram of the Panama Canal illustrates the sequence of locks and passages that a vessel passes through while transiting the canal.

A cargo ship fits snugly between the walls of the locks, as the mules on the lock walls on either side guide her forward.

Watching ships enter the mouth of the canal from our room close to the Bridge of the Americas.