Panama: Panama Canal and Casco Antiguo

Before visiting the country, I knew Panama was rich in history; however, after visiting the Panama Canal and Casco Antiguo I learned so much more about the construction of the Panama Canal and details about Casco Antiguo from Fabio.

First, I did not know that the French initially started the construction of the Panama Canal that was completed by the United States in 1914. I also learned that there are three locks along the 51 mile canal: Gatun, Pedro Miguel and the Miraflores. Fabio, our guide, later told us that the amount of material that was excavated from the canal was large enough to circle the earth four times! We were lucky enough that we were able to watch two ships pass through the Miraflores locks as they continued their way to the Pacific Ocean. We learned it cost the cruise ship we saw $250,000 to pass through the locks. At first, this seemed like a lot of money to me, however passing through the canal, which takes 8-10 hours saved the cruise ship $2 million and two weeks (Unbelievable!)

Our fourth day in Panama we visited Casco Antiguo the old city. First and foremost, the view of Panama City from Casco Antiguo took my breath away. We could see the entire skyline which seemed to stretch on forever. I found it fascinating when Fabio explained that Panama is currently in the process of building smaller islands off the coast similar to those in Dubai. Fabio further explained that Casco Antiguo is going through a huge makeover, reconstructing and remodeling the old buildings in the city into lavish hotels and apartments. It was also interesting to learn that because the French occupied Casco Antiguo in the past, the architecture of the building are similar to those in France which I noticed with the various balconies. I learned that the French had a huge influence in Panama from the Canal to Casco Antiguo.

Jocelyn P.