Friday, December 30, 2016

Dinner at the Canal

Okay. One of the best kept secrets I know is the Visitors Center at the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. It is four stories with observation platforms on the second and fourth floors, a fantastic interactive museum and a lovely restaurant on the second floor with dining on the observation deck. I'm just going to post up the photos and narrate as we go.

This is Robinson. He was our waiter last year and it was s delightful surprise to see him again. There is really something nice about re-encountering someone you met far away and never expect to see again and remembering each other (poor sentence structure, yeah, I know).

The sheer size of the canal and the ships that pass through it is difficult to comprehend. Photos do not do it justice. The operation for locking a ship through is unbelievably complicated and yet proceeds ever so smoothly.

This is a photo of the escape vehicle (think "lifeboat") for the crew in the event of catastrophic ship failure. Again, think of the scale here.

The restaurant is really lovely and is a surreal juxtaposition of an upscale eatery with an engineering marvel.

Yeah. That IS a ship in the Panama Canal outside the restaurant window.

And the food is actually very good. Tonight was a buffet which included Sancocho, the traditional Panamanian soup, various salads, numerous entrees (I had the tamal de oalla, a chicken tamale served en casserole) and, yes, plantains!

They have added new exhibits to the museum detailing the third channel and locks. We didn't have time to see it all but here are a few highlights.

The new channel currently transits about 6 ships per day and unfortunately cannot be easily sen from the visitors center. However, you can see a ship in the lock in a long-distance shot I took.

Oh. And here's a flower for color.


Panama - It's Like Coming Home.

We left yesterday at 10:30 am from a lovely snowstorm which had pretty much turned to rain by the time we hit the Thruway. No problem boarding or at the gate but the flight down itself left quite a bit to be desired. Across the aisle from me, not one but two guys with some of the worst sleep apnea I have ever had the privilege to be party to. It was like they were playing "snore volleyball"; one guy would go at it for a couple of honks before going somnolent then the other would start up from his side of the court. Adding to the merriment was a little old demented lady, traveling by herself, who would get up every 15 or 20 minutes to inform the flight attendant that she wanted to get off the plane. (They were really lovely in gently re-directing her back to her seat and comforting her). And just for good measure there was an infant or two somewhere toward the back adding to the din. Now, I could have managed this better by pulling my Bose QC noise cancelling headphones on, but I was just too lazy and kept hoping it would eventually quiet down. Thus, the price of inaction.

Aside from that it really was unremarkable. We arrived in Panama City a bit late (8:30 pm), got a cab out to Gamboa and made it to the Hotel in time to check on and catch the last 15 minutes of their dinner buffet. This really was nice as we were tired and hungry. Went straight to bed and slept like the dead. And here is my morning view - early morning view of the Chagres River Valley,the grounds of The Gamboa Rainforest Resort and our room. Not sure what the agenda is bu I would love to go down to the visitors center at Mirflores this afternoon, watch the ships transit, shop in the gift shop (pick up my annual Panama Canal calendar) and have dinner at their restaurant, "The Atlantic and Pacific". We shall see. I'll keep you posted.