To Panama City

To Panama City, Panama – Day Two of Our Road Trip
 
 
 
 
 
 
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We left Shelter Bay Marina - Eric at the wheel, Big Bear in the co-pilots seat, complete with IPad and Bad Elf Dongle attachment showing our route to Panama City. About twenty minutes down the fairly lumpy road is the Panama Canal, just visible, the first Gatun Lock. This morning we watched YM Portland going up as the white lorry with the red cattle box crossing the access bridge is dwarfed by this massive fifty eight and a bit thousand ton lady. This Liberian flagged container ship was built in 2003 and was on her way to Hong Kong, due in on the 3rd of March at 22:00 hours. Her almost one hundred and five feet beam means there is about six inches each side of her. Her length of just over nine hundred and thirty eight feet more or less guarantees each of the locks to herself.
 
 
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Rather than go to the City on the Autopista we followed the road that hugs the Canal, nothing between us but the railway line. There is always something to see, working tugs and big girls are never too far away.
 
 
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We went off the beaten track, crossed an interesting bridge 
 
 
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Berger Paint makes for happy houses, the lovely church and some grander houses.

 

Gamboa is a small town, one of a handful of permanent Canal Zone townships, built to house employees of the Panama Canal and their dependents, also people who work at the nearby Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island (we saw when we crossed the Gatun Lake). The name Gamboa is the name of a tree of the quince family.

 

 

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The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute traces its 90-year history in Panama to the construction of the Panama Canal, when scientific interest in surveying the flora and fauna of the area grew for the purpose of controlling insect diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. After the canal began operating entomologists and biologists involved in these studies sought, to establish a permanent, biological reserve on an island created during the construction of the Canal. 

In 1923, Barro Colorado Island (BCI) became one of the first biological reserves in the New World, and is now the most intensively studied area in the tropics. Home to a recorded 1,316 plant species, 381 bird species and 102 mammal species, this 1,500 hectare island contains a network of 59 kilometers of marked and protected trails. The Smithsonian Institution was one of several organizations initially participating in the research and administration of BCI.

Dedicated to conducting long studies in tropical biology, Barro Colorado Island became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1946. In 1966, the organization changed its name to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), and expanded its scope by extending its research to other areas in the tropics. It also established a marine science program with laboratories on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Panama.

 

 

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Nearing the City we passed a train............

 

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.........which went on and on and on

 

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Bear had to wiggle us around many one way streets, through the outskirts of the city

 

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Albrook Shopping Mall for late lunch. The place is massive and employs ten thousand people each and every day.

 

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Wild animals help you to find your way around and there is a train when your feet hurt

 

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This is the biggest Mall we have been in since Miami. Loved the fancy lamp shop

 

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The skyline is dominated with fancy buildings, including the Rotunda Tower in the centre
 
 
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The Hard Rock Hotel, the Yacht Club and one not quite finished
 
 
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Later we found out this odd looking ‘Dalek’ was a Pizza Restaurant.
 
 

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Panama City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of Panama. The city is the political and administrative center of the country as well as a hub for international banking and commerce. It is considered a Beta - World City and one of three Central American cities listed in this category.

With an average GDP per capita of $11,700, Panama has been among the top five places for retirement in the world, according to International Living magazine, you can retire here over the age of eighteen providing you can prove a monthly income of five hundred dollars and that qualifies you for cheap transport and air fares. Panama City has a dense skyline of mostly highrise buildings, and it is surrounded by a large belt of tropical rainforest. Panama's Tocumen International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Central America, offers daily flights to major international destinations.

Panama City was chosen to be the 2003 American Capital of Culture jointly with Curitiba, Brazil.

Panama City was founded on the 15th of August 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila. The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, where most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through.

On the 28th of January 1671, the city was destroyed by a fire when pirate Henry Morgan sacked and set fire to it. The city was formally reestablished two years later on the 21st of January 1673, in a peninsula located five miles from the original settlement.

 

 

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Just goes to prove ‘you never know what you are going to see next’. Man with tyreman in pink Crocs.

 

 

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The site of the previously devastated city is still in ruins and is now a popular tourist attraction known as Panama Viejo, where we found the reasonably priced 1930’s style, El Parador Hotel
 
 
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Just opposite was a Peruvian Restaurant. Eric and Dee’s shared fish platter was quite an event. Washed down with Pisco Sour, we remembered those from our days with Anne and Alan.
 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL IN ALL A REAL MIXTURE