No kidding, I have been waiting for this opportunity for a lifetime. My fascination for engineering marvels had this on top of the list. Today was the day for me to finally visit the man made masterpiece that changed global commerce forever – the Panama Canal.
Opened to traffic in 2016, these new and larger locks increase ship frequency and allow for much larger vessels to cross this shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific (or Vice versa) oceans. the guide on site explained that this new lock reuses 60% of the water thus reducing need for rain and dammed water reservoirs.
I also learned that a modern container ship fully loaded costs over a million USD in fees to make the passage. In fact, in 2022 the canal collected close to 3 billion in fees. I must admit that I was shocked how pricey this is and it now begins to make sense why the Chinese want to build a rival canal across Nicaragua.
Our visit continued from the locks to a central canal passage near Gamboa where the Chagres river merges with the canal and supplies it with fresh water. From this narrowest section of the canal we visited the native Panamanian tribe of Embera. It was an educational experience for all in our group as this tribe is at the crossroads of the economic powers of the canal and the impact of global warming. Their livelihoods are altered by warmer weather with less and less precipitation.