A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!

I drafted this post back in June when I was actually in Panama but I never finished it…until now. Better late then never?

I’m in Panama for a conference and of course I had to escape from the conference venue to go see the Panama Canal while I was here. I had some unscheduled time the day I arrived, before the conference got going, so I met up with some colleagues and headed to the canal museum. Due to a flight delay, I arrived later than expected so by the time we got to the museum, we didn’t have much time before they closed.

Sadly, we missed out on quite a few exhibits and the informational movie about the history and construction of the canal, choosing instead to spend most of the little bit of time we had on the observation deck. We were fortunate that a container ship was in the canal while we were there and we got to see the lock system work.

This is definitely geeky, but it was pretty cool to see this in action. My favorite part of the whole process were the little electric locomotives, called mules after the animals originally used to guide ships through the canal and locks. They looked like something out of a Nintendo game. If you look carefully in the picture below, you’ll see one next to the ship working it’s way through the canal.


Here’s a short video of the mules in action:

On the other side of the white building, the track that the mules run on goes downhill pretty quickly and we were ridiculously entertained speculating if the mule would go down it like a roller coaster car. Sadly, it was responsible and maintained its sedate pace, probably for the best when dealing with ships of this size in such a confined space.

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Just for good measure and to round out this post, here are a couple of photos of the skyline as viewed from my hotel:


I’ll close with this kitty we saw at dinner one night. We named it Hitler Kitty (Hitty) due to the markings:


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