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.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Isla Contadora, Panama

Isla Contadora is a Panamanian island on the Pearl Islands archipelago in the Gulf of Panama. Contadora was the island where the Spanish counted the pearls that were harvested from the other islands in the archipelago, hence the name of the island, which means "the one that counts" in Spanish.


Sunrise over Panama City while waiting for our ferry to the island

Transportation on the island

Gorgeous beaches

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rincón de la Vieja National Park

This 34,800 acre (14,084 ha) national park in the Guanacaste Region of Costa Rica is home to an intriguing combination of volcanic geological wonders and pristine tropical forests. The main attraction is the smooth cinder cone volcano, Rincón de la Vieja (6217 ft., 1895 m), comprised of nine contiguous craters that dot the volcanic national park. This collection of volcanic peaks are the most active in the Guanacaste Mountains (Cordillera de Guanacaste), where major volcanic activity occurred during the latter half of the 1960's. The Von Seebach crater is still currently active, continually venting steam and the occasional volcanic hiccup.

Traffic en route to Rincón de la Vieja

Geothermal hot springs

Volcanic mud




A naturally occurring blue-tinted river