Detail of metal gates

Detail of metal gates

 

When the National Trust brochure advertising a day time crossing of the Panama Canal in April, I was immediately “hook lined and sinkered”, David declared upon reading it. I solely equated Panama with this marvel of engineering, begun in the 1870’s. Today, I know there’s much more to Panama: the historic city, the Gehry Biomuseo, and for enchanting natural beauty, the Darien and the San Blas islands, known for its hand stitched detailed molas featuring fish, birds and butterflies and abstract patterns.

Panama Canal locks opening

Panama Canal locks opening

The Hebridean took us along the Costa Rican coast through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Colombia. Informative lectures were offered by Stanford University and the National Trust as well as local experts on flora, fauna (in particular birds), history and local culture.

Here are a few photos of this marvel that unites the Atlantic to the Pacific. It, and a second more recent canal, transformed the world forever. We can thank the French, Teddy Roosevelt and the countless workers, many of whom died from yellow fever and other causes in the process. Above is one of the locks we went through, and below, 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?” “Every December 25th was my reply.” 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, with a guide to the historic heart of the city, I, as a psychiatrist, asked our guide: “Is there a mental hospital in Panama City?”. “Yes, he answered, “for all the Panamaniacs.”

Panama City’s historic heart: decay and gentrification by Honey:

When I first laid eyes on this World Heritage UNESCO site, I was reminded of walking along a few of Havana’s streets in 2013 minus brightly painted vintage Chevys or Oldsmobiles. I was walking into another era left behind, ravaged by time, salty air and in huge contrast to the wealth of the modern city. Its charm enchanted me. Definitely Caribbean in style with a French styled balconies reminiscent of New Orleans. For years they have been decaying. he transformation and gentrification that occurs when a town is awarded the prestigious label of being a