A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama

Not just a palindrome, this was our day yesterday (if you consider Danny “a man”)!

Due the the World Cup in Brazil, airlines switched some of their flights around, canceling flights to/from Asunción and adding flights to/from Brazilian cities. So instead of flying right from Paraguay to the US, yesterday Danny and I spent 12 hours in Panama City, Panama on our way from Asunción to Chicago for my sister’s wedding. Before we left town, Patrick and Danny had a little playtime silliness and Patrick showed off his new black eye.


Danny and I took a six-hour 1am flight to Panama. Danny did pretty well; he slept almost the whole flight in a little nest I made for him on the floor and only threw up all over himself once.


Thankfully no barf got on me and I had extra clothes for Danny in my carry-on. As a bonus, we saw a beautiful sunrise from the plane.


In Panama City, I had arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to see the sights of the city, starting with the old section of the city.




We went to the top of Ancon hill for some nice views.




We had a nice lunch outside along the water and Danny loved feeding the fish.


And of course, we went to the Panama Canal, visiting the Miraflores locks. The Panama Canal, 48 miles long and connecting the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean, has a history dating back to the 16th century and this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first ship passing through its locks.

The surveying, planning and building of the canal was centuries in the making. In 1539, a team sent by Spain’s King Carlos I to survey and assess the feasibility of canal found it to be impossible.

More than 300 years later, in 1880, the French Suez Canal architect Ferdinand de Lesseps made the first serious attempt at building a canal, failing miserably after underestimating the challenge posed by the Panamanian jungle, namely swamps, downpours, landslides, floods and mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and yellow fever. After financial mismanagement, coupled with more than 20,000 tropical disease deaths, the project ended in bankruptcy in 1889.

In 1903, the United States, under the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt, purchased the rights to the project for $40 million. The following year work began, lasting a decade until the canal was completed.


The United States, having made great medical advances in the treatment and prevention of tropical diseases and having brought in tens of thousands of Caribbean, Asian and European laborers, successfully completed a seemly impossible feat of engineering.


The U.S-led team constructed a series of six locks to raise and lower ships the 85 feet between sea level and Lake Gatún, the then-largest man-made lake created by damming the Chagres River.


Here’s how the canal looks today. Notice the difference in the water levels in the two pictures.


We watched a few boats travel through the Miraflores Locks, seeing the water levels rise and fall and the gates open and close.





We also stopped at a playground where Danny enjoyed the swings and teeter-totter.


I especially loved seeing all the water views.


Our time in Panama City included lots of sight-seeing and two separate one-hour naps for Danny before we boarded our five-hour flight to Chicago.


Danny cried a little and slept a fair amount but was a bit of a space hog making hard and uncomfortable for me to get much rest!

But the good news is we made it to Chicago! The bad news is that Monday we have to do these same long flights back to Paraguay!

One thought on “A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama

  1. Pingback: Wedding Celebration Kickoff! | Keen On Asuncion

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