|This was my favorite shot from the Canal shoots because it's history. This metal was taken from inside the locks which have to be drained and cleaned every year.|
Sometimes we go to a country with expectations from others. Duties. Obligations. No one in my family really cares about what I did here except that I came back alive. It's not to say that they don't care, but it's all mumbo jumbo....and so are the pics. However, the question that always comes up, "Did you see the Panama Canal?" I mean how could I go to Panama and NOT see the CANAL?? It's like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower!!! Can you imagine???
Every ship that passes through the canal pays a chunk of change to use it. It's quite a hefty amount to shortcut through this man made wonder at several thousand dollars a ship. The ship that passed through on this day had to pay 6 thousand dollars. Of course the price is determined by the size of the vessel, etc. Large cargo ships pass before your eyes from one side to the other. The place draws in lots of general tourists who stay in Panama for a couple of days in the nicer hotels. You can always tell them apart from the backpackers because they are wearing lipstick with their hair done up:) I'm not one for crowds, and there were plenty of people here from all over the world.
Thousands of men and women died creating this canal. A high estimate places the total at 27.500 and the lower estimate was around 23.000. Yet other sources report 25.000. Records vary, and some people believe that the death toll was higher than 30.000 people. Either way, A LOT of people lost their lives creating this canal. Yellow fever and malaria caused much of it, but there were a lot of mechanical accidents as well. The Culebra cut for the canal was an area that took a high amount of casualties due to the forces of Mother Nature. Mudslides would cover workers as they blasted their way through this tricky part of the canal. A memorial is there to remember the thousands of workers who lost their lives. When the French failed to create the canal(and almost crushed their government financially!), the US took over once President Theodore Roosevelt stepped into office. In fact, it was one of his first orders. The canal would later aide in both World Wars. Panama was originally part of Colombia, but Roosevelt helped support a revolt by bringing in US Navy ships into the surrounding waters of what was then Colombia. And thus Panama was created with the help of the US government. Later President Roosevelt would admit by telling the American people, "I took the isthmus!" This would cost the US government and taxpayers 10 million dollars in reparation to Colombia. Imagine someone trying to do that same thing today. Part of my anger comes from the environmental damage done to the area by a president who bullied his way into a country that wasn't his to control. Roosevelt went on to do a lot of great things, but in my opinion, this project had consequences to both Colombia, the enviroment, and the thousands of workers who lost their lives. To prevent any more deaths from malaria, a US Colonel by the name of William Crawford Gorgas was assigned in 1904 for the sanitation project. He was able to get the disease under control and move the project forward to completion. Many of these workers were cutting through primary forest to connect the Pacific to the Caribbean and while doing so, they were exposing themselves to the raw power of Mother Nature. Rain also hampered much of their work creating mudslides. Mass graves were made during several digs near what is now the railroad. In fact, the railroad was built first before the project could begin. This was the deadliest and most labor intensive part of the project. An entire area had to be blasted open to fill a large gap with water....thus creating the massive artificial Gatun lake for sea vessels to pass through and connecting the Caribbean and Pacific together.
Water levels play an important role and help transfer the ship from the river to the ocean or vice versa. Here's a random question for you. Even though the Panama canal is owned by Panama, which country operates most of the ports around the world including the US? The answer is China. A Hong Kong company run by Li-Ka Shing. Yeah...this guy is rich:)
I thought this shot was cool because it showed two ships coming and going.
Here's the last shot of me at the Panama Canal. For more information, click on the link below. The Panama Canal is a human triumph over nature or a good example of how nature and humankind can coexist together today. A project like this could never happen anymore and thank goodness! Fortuneatly, the locks couldn't operate properly without sections of rain forest being preserved. Without the vegetation, there wouldn't be anything to hold the water in which would prevent vessels from crossing the river or lake. It's really quite something to behold in person....imagine a large sailing vessel pass by while you're in the jungle.http://www.pancanal.com/eng/index.html
Here's what moved me about this place. This museum triggered a memory from the time when milkmen still delivered milk in the morning. Does anyone remember this? Maybe it was just a dream.:) Anyhow, it wasn't just about the canal for me. It was going back to the early 1900's when my Grandfather was a kid. He would later,as a young man, work on Lake Michigan as a chef for cargo ships. A lot of the Panama Canal history reminded me of the pics and stories about how the Two Rivers/Manitowoc area(my hometown) began. I have our trip to the canal to thank for stirring up those stories my Grandfather used to tell me about his own youth and how he sailed the great Lake Michigan. He's gone now like most of the people who helped create important structures for the ocean, river, or lakes. The first pic on this post reminds me of home and takes me back to the days when I was 5 or 6 years old. Get ready for a random flashback:) I'm with my Grandma who is hanging her sheets on the clothesline while hitting them with some sort of stick. The breeze is nice and cool that day. The smell of freshly washed linens hangs in the air. I'm playing with trucks on the lawn. However, Grandma has to take me in their green car (which smelled of cigars) to pick Grandpa up from work. This was during the time when only one car was the norm for families. We drove to the lakeshore and waited for Grandpa to finish up his shift at Burger shipyards (which created submarines for World War 2, tugs, ferrys or tankers). I remember the seagulls floating above us making a mess on everything below! Another carwash! Bob(aka Grandpa) came out with his fellow coworkers in their grey uniforms with his lunch box in hand and we'd proceed back home. That's a special memory that was triggered from this museum. I'm glad we saw the canal because it made me think of all those people who dedicated their lives, whether it be for work or desire, to create something special for future generations. The faces of these places have changed (as have their environments), but the old bones still remain ......the only reminders of a generation now gone.