PANAMA CITY: A World unto its Own
Honey: Like many I have equated almost solely equated Panama with a marvel of engineering: the Panama Canal. Today I know there’s much more to it.
David: When the National Trust brochure advertising a day time crossing of the Panama Canal in April, I was immediately “hook lined and sinkered”.
Changing this perspective was a cruise on a small ship David and I took in the spring along the Costa Rican coast through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Colombia. Informative lectures were offered by a professor from Stanford University and a director from the National Trust as well as local guides when we explored the mainland and islands such as the San Blas.
To do the canal justice is a slide show of this marvel that unites the Atlantic to the Pacific and transformed the world forever thanks to the French and then Teddy Roosevelt. You’ll see the Centennial Bridge, the Pan American Highway’s link between two continents as well as a tugboat hauling a mega-freighter, the Miraflores lock station, workers on our ship and a very ingenious “locomotive” hauling ships through the lock stations.
Panama City by David:
In the recently opened Frank Gehry designed Panama City Biomuseo, the docent asked our group, “Do any of you know what an isthmus is?” Honey raised her eyebrows. “Every December 25th was my reply.” (Incidently we had just celebrated both Easter and Passover on our ship).
What a colorful building and what a colorful prosperous town. Panama reportedly has an economic growth rate far above that of the US, and it shows. Later ,while exploring the historic heart of the city, a blend of Havana’s once grand but now decaying buildings and the transformation and gentrification that occurs when a town is awarded the prestigious label of being a World Heritage UNESCO site - occurs with becoming a — , I, as a psychiatrist, asked our guide: “Is there a mental hospital in Panama City?”. “Yes, he answered, “for all the Panamaniacs.”