Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Canal of all Canals...Panama

Panama is one of the smallest countries in the world, but it's location has made it one of the most important, historically and one of the best known.  The map above is of it's canal, and the reason why this tiny land is so well known world wide.
It started out as a simple idea.  Instead of risking life and limb and wasting a lot of time going around Cape Horn to get to the west, make a canal that goes through the narrowest spot in the America's, and cut that time of travel dramatically.  How to do it was another matter entirely.  The French tried it in the 1800's, but they couldn't get it right.  After a lot of fuss, and a really long drawn out sometimes tragic history of construction, the canal opened officially on August 15, 1914.  Since then, it has been on of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and one of the most famous engineering feats as well.  It's sometimes been called the 8th wonder of the world.

The canal has a little bit of everything to see for the weary traveler.  There are locks such as the Gatun, Miraflores, and the Pedro Miguel Locks.  There are also dredged out natural waterways, man made and natural lakes.  There are some pretty impressive bridges along the way as well.  It's not all one kind of crossing.  It runs for about 40 miles across the isthmus of Panama.
Now that you know something about the canal, why am I suggesting it and what exactly am I suggesting?

While you're in Panama, take a day, buy a ticket on one of the ferries that runs day tour full transits of the canal and see it for yourself.  There are several tour companies that offer this tour.  It's a great way to see an amazing feat of engineering.  Not to mention, the scenery is beautiful.

You'll be surprised at all the amazing sights you'll see along the way.
Panama is one of those countries that you'll be glad you visited.  It's portrayed as a drug lord run wild west type of country, but that's not the whole picture; not even close.

Panama is home to several indigenous tribes who have stuck to the cultures and traditions over the years, despite the countries rush forward into the modern world with it's canal and all that comes with that from around the world.
The Kuna Tribe is probably the best known, because of their applique art.  The women of this tribe are known for their bright clothing made with bright hand sewn tapestries called Molas.  The tribe also will show you their day to day lives and you can enjoy some music while you're there.

The Embera Indians are more known for their body painting than their clothes.  They have some different traditions, and different clothes.  They also play different types of music, chant and dance a lot more.
Either way, you will find that a visit with an indigenous tribe is something that you will never forget.

So come down to Panama, and experience the amazing city life,
beautiful beaches,

rain forest,

indigenous peoples, and of course, the Panama Canal.

Traverse the major oceans of the world.  Go from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa.  Experience the Panama Canal for a day and have memories for a lifetime.

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