Sunday, March 10, 2024

Cruising through the Panama Canal

 


I would have experienced cruising through the Panama Canal if things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023, (was not to be). I learned about the canal in school, like most of us. I had a false impression of the scale and landscape of the area, however.

I thought there was a wide area of land that was carved out to create the canal. But I found in addition to the manmade canal, the area is full of lakes and rivers. Yes, there was a massive removal of soil to link them all together, so ships could pass between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. I was just surprised by the topography.


Our itinerary gave us only one day for Panama, and that was to traverse the canal. While thrilling, a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, it would have been nice to spend some time in Panama itself. 

One silly goal was to buy a Panama hat in Panama. Since that wouldn’t be possible, I would have bought it on our next stop, Colombia. Since the trip didn't happen, I could buy it on Amazon, CLICK HERE (ad). 



The climate is also stable. The lowest average temperature is in October, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The high is 90 degrees in both March and April. It’s a tropical, meaning humid, climate with a long rainy season. For me personally, this would remove Panama, or any tropical location, from the running as far as a retirement destination. I admit to being a weather wimp. I prefer little change in temperature, mid-sixties to mid-seventies, sunny skies with a light ocean breeze and I’m a happy camper.

Although there’s lots of coastline in Panama, rivers and lakes, there are rainforests, modern skyscrapers, and a collection of colonial buildings in the Casco Viejo district. Again, if time was limited, I’d spend it in the older district. If, however, we had days there, I would have visited the more modern parts of Panama City. It would have been a great place to stock up on items at this point in our 3-year cruise. Shopping would have been a snap considering the lack of language barrier and use of the U.S. dollar.


One major caveat is the travel advisory. It’s listed on the “do not go there” list. Perhaps that’s why our cruise was a travel through the canal only plan and did not have us spending time there. The advisory is for all parts of the country. How sad. A good economy, English spoken widely, use of the U.S. currency, but unsafe for visitors. I’m afraid I would have to be satisfied with the fabular trip through the canal and buying a Panama hat in a gift shop in our next destination, Barranquilla, Colombia.


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Sur le Pont d'Avignon