Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Canal Perspective

Although we had previously been to the Miraflores Canal locks visitors center, we thought Mall and Leena would enjoy seeing the transiting ships from up high. We and they had gone through the locks at water level a few days ago, but the visitor center gives quite another view. The top viewing deck is four stories above the locks and you can view operations from every direction.
We arrived at a perfect time as two huge freighters were just entering the southern lock and one was exiting the northern lock. We were able to watch the complete operation of both locks for the ships, in both locks, which takes about a half an hour to complete. During the fill time of the lock we were also able to fit in the orientation movie and get back to the viewing level.

On this trip to Miraflores we also were able to go through the museum which is very well done. It is spread over all four levels of the center with escalators taking you up to the next level with windows along the escalator overlooking the locks. On the first floor was the history of the canal construction, on the second floor was an exhibit of insects, animals and other gremlins from the rain forests of Panama, the third floor was a great interactive demonstration of how the locks operate and the ships navigate the canal, and the fourth floor was an exhibit of how the new third lock is being constructed.

A little bit of trivia is that in our condo building the bottom floor elevator button has a designation of PB and the roof top is designated AS. We have humorously referred to them as “peanut butter” and “always sunny”. In the Miraflores elevator, at least the PB was revealed. It stands for planta baja which was translated as ground floor. We are sure that some time AS will likewise be revealed to us!

On the way back from Miraflores we stopped for lunch at the Albrook Mall and revealed to our guests the modern contrast with the other parts of Panama City we have visited. Our taxi fares for the various legs were $20, $10 and $3.50. You just never know!

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