Day 44: Bridging the Pacific and Atlantic

First thing we saw at the canal – a Hong Kong container ship!

When I think of Panama, the first thing that comes to mind is the canal. And today we got to marvel at this engineering wonder at work. The canal connects two oceans, facilitating global trade routes such as Asia & East Americas / Europe. Massive cargo liners carrying BMWs, Mercedes and other various goods passed before our eyes, slowly being positioned into the locks and raised as the gates closed and the locks’ chambers filled with water.

Gates opening at the locks

Just how important is the canal? You get a better feel once you realise that cargo ships worldwide are built with the canal’s dimensions in mind. It takes about 24 hours for the complete canal crossing, much faster were the cargo unloaded for overland transfer (I think you need several hundred trucks to carry the load of a full cargo ship). The charge for using the canal, paid according to the vessel’s weight and length, can at times be phenomenal – this Hyundai liner is paying US$330,000! With over 14,000 vessels passing through the canal each year, it’s no wonder the US had been so keen on maintaining control; only 10 years ago had full ownership been returned to the Panamanian people.

Ship cruising out to the Pacific

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Catherine and Glenn, you are living my dreams! Can you put me in a little pocket and bring me around with your travels? So want to go see all these places!

    Don't miss Anguilla on your way, and also Saba (Netherlands-Antilles). You won't regret it, trust me. Tell me all about Argentina if you are going there. I am dying to take a few hot tango lessons there!


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