A Journal, with Pictures


by on Mar.17, 2018, under Flying

On Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 25th, we did the most demand­ing day of the trip. Because of the dri­ve from Antigua to Guatemala City and cus­toms uncer­tain­ty, plus a refu­el­ing stop for 12 air­planes we had to leave Antigua very ear­ly in the morn­ing (6:00am depar­ture). When we arrived in Guatemala City in the morn­ing we had to re-posi­tion our planes to cus­toms, clear cus­toms, then take off. We flew two and a half hours to Liberia, Cos­ta Rica, did the approach, had the nor­mal 30 knot gusts, land­ed, refu­eled and with the help of the great han­dlers were back in the air for the two hour and forty minute flight to Pana­ma City’s GA air­port. The FBO and cus­toms in Pana­ma were very good (cus­toms in the FBO) and we were off to our hotel in the cen­ter of the old city. The first full day we went to the canal exhi­bi­tion site to view the orig­i­nal canal Miraflo­res locks (first Pacif­ic side locks), in the dis­tance we could see the Pedro Miguel Locks (Lake lev­el). The exhi­bi­tion cen­ter includ­ed a muse­um that told the his­to­ry and the oper­a­tions as well as infor­ma­tion about the new larg­er locks that oper­ate in par­al­lel to the orig­i­nal canal. The his­to­ry is very inter­est­ing and the engi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion are clear­ly an amaz­ing human accom­plish­ment. The French tried and failed in the 1880’s and the US fin­ished in 1914. The orig­i­nal canal con­sists of three sets of locks, a man made lake (Lake Gaton) that span rough­ly 45 miles across the isth­mus of Pana­ma and some of the most inhos­pitable swamp, jun­gle and moun­tains in the world. There were over 25,000 lives lost between the French and Amer­i­can efforts, most­ly to yel­low fever and malaria.

Our sec­ond day we had sev­er­al choic­es for tours, one being tak­ing the train to the Caribbean side and vis­it­ing Colon and the one we choose which was to take a boat trip onto the lake. We got a taste of the jun­gle that bor­ders the lake and ships tran­sit­ing this part of the canal. An inter­est­ing fac­toid is the lake took sev­en years to form after com­ple­tion of the locks, sup­plied pri­mar­i­ly by the Cha­gres river.

We had a good time in Pana­ma with shop­ping near our hotel, and most every­one was sport­ing a new Pana­ma hat, we had group din­ners in local restau­rants in addi­tion to one night in the hotel, lunch on roof top restau­rants gave us a great view of the new sky­line. The last night after din­ner we enjoyed a show that fea­tured local dancers in local costumes.

Pana­ma was extreme­ly inter­est­ing and for those inter­est­ed David McCul­lough’s “Path between the Seas” is a must read. This was anoth­er stop on the trip that was worth the trip alone.  The next morn­ing we fly back to Liberia for an overnight then on to Tapachula.

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