Panama Canal: Colon, Lake Gatun, and Miraflores

October 5, 2012

Inter Alia, amongst other things, going further into the Panama Canal.  This was an expedition that inspired a lot of excitement.  Had not thought of the Panama Canal and its system of locks as being one of the ‘Wonders of the World’ and one of the ‘Great Engineering Master Pieces’ of our time….and now…I KNOW!

This morning started out quite early, taking the train the runs along side of the Panama Canal to the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico side of the Canal.  The train is an old style train, and had the type of feel to it that you could really take in the moment…if so inclined.

Boarding the train and settling down for a nice cup of cafe….we are on our way to Colon, Panama.  The train rides right next to the canal, so along the way, there are plenty of container ship sitings.

And, there is plenty of the canal to see….

It is a nice ride full of serenity, and gives you a chance to consider all the lives that have gone into constructing the global chain of production that most of us pull our resources from.  Getting to Colon, it is immediately obvious that we are still in the midst of a major trade zone.  Containers are spread everywhere….

Colon is Panama but it also has that old world look to it…where if you consider what it looked like many decades ago…its vibrancy was fresh…it is still here, its just that the paint is not as fresh as it used to be 🙂

Driving along, next thing you know we end up at the Colon Free Trade Zone.  I am talking about…this place is HUGE!!!!  Nothing but shopping absolutely everywhere…items from all over the world…guess that has something to do with so much commerce traveling through the canal… 🙂  Okay, I’m more than guessing…this place somewhat reminds me of Seoul, Korea…and it is interesting that such a none-shopper as me…is back in one of the most intense shopping areas in the world!

Okay, I won’t freak out…they have street food 🙂  I’m Kool!

Along with the savory taste of the street food 🙂 You have to love an open air market…the fruit…so much fresh fruit…it has a completely different feel to it…often times in the commercial markets, they have to ship the fruit when its so young, that it matures differently…here, as in many other countries…it’s right where you need it to be 🙂  Papaya’s as big as children… 🙂  Love the feel!

And, how wonderful it is…to see the ‘little people’ being little ones no matter where you go…conversation looks deep!!! 🙂

Just spent enough time in Colon to get a feel for the place…lots of things going on in this side of Panama…not far from here a mining operation is starting up…looks to bring some jobs to the region…however, just as in many other places, the hope is that those jobs will be more than just resource extraction and will produce some skill sets that are higher up the chain of production…that way the progress can be sustainable….and who knows…maybe an agglomeration style economy will start up and expand….

Heading back into the Canal…you can definitely feel the presence of an older world here…it’s remnants remain, and they do speak volumes…always like to capture a picture of someone unaware and doing there thing…regardless to the circumstances, ‘a man has to try and make his own way….’….

Okay…here we go through one of those extremely rare places on the planet…may not seem as much to some; however, here are one of the locks in the Panama Canal…specifically, one of the Lake Gatun locks…behind this gate are 100’s of thousands of gallons of water…we are actually driving through it…heading to the other side…through these gates/locks…many a ship has traveled…in fact, more than likely…your underwear came through here 🙂

This is the back side of Lake Gatun…the Lake actually serves as a major section of the canal….the locks actually work to life ships from sea level up to the level of the lake…and then back down, as they progress through the canal…during certain times of the year…they close this section off…because the water you see rising up…covers the road we are currently on…

Stopping at the Miraflores Locks so that we can check out a few ships moving through, get up close and personal, and catch some fine dining…

These are the locks through which much of our global trade a commerce passes through…

Here is a ship that is currently in process, and there is a line of others waiting…it takes approximately 8 hours for a ship to make it all the way through…however, they may have to wait a few days in line on the outside of the canal…waiting for their turn to progress…during this time, a ship captain who works for the canal will board and guide the ship…captains working for the canal are the only ones allowed to command ships in the canal….

At this point, the ships are under control of the canal command.  Those machines you see on the rails are called mules…they pull the ships through the canal with cables…

Here you can see the locks in operation….the water level will even out…then the gates will open…then off to the next area…

As always, must find the human being in the story….he was on the ship that was passing by….I wonder where this fellow is from, where he is heading, what’s his life story….and what is he doing now…so connected yet, not knowing so…

Full Day, I’ve got plenty now to think about that…so that when I am up at night contemplating everything in the world… 🙂 I now have this to think about also 🙂  The Shrimp Soup was like nothing I have ever tasted…outrageous…the food was fresh, and the ‘Cerveza’…well…a friend of mine always has a reply that he is ‘living the dream’ day by day….well, like I said on the side of that hill in Bali…. “Life’s Good”!

 

www.takingownership.org

 

 

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