|We started today with having our luggage out by 7:45 am and then to breakfast. This Marriot has a very nice breakfast area. The bus left at 9. We travel for about 2 hours to Colon . We passed by the largest Free Trade Zone in the Americas and the Panama Canal Railway station. They were working on some of the roadway, but the road was very good.
We saw an gated housing area where Jews and Muslims live together. She said they came to Panama to get rich and therefore get along well.
We spent the rest of the morning at the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center. Aqua Clarara is the area of the new locks opened in 2013. This is the Atlantic entrance. These locks are on rollers and the gates open differently and more efficiently than the old ones. They recycle most of the water when they lower them into pools adjacent and then pump it back it when they raise it. The ships are raised 87 feet above the Sea. We watched as tug boats positioned a couple vessels. They keep the vessel straight so it is not banging the sides. The locks are narrow for as big as these ships are. They change the lane direction every 10 hours. A cruise ship went thru early today and the passage fee was $400,000. They must arrange the passage in advance and transfer funds electronically prior to passage. We had lunch in the area at a nice open air viewing of the ships awaiting for passage.
Back on the bus and toward Panama City. Directions here are very confusing. Costa Rica is left, Columbia is right, Atlantic is north, Pacific is south.
We took a nice boat ride on Gatun Lake. This is the artificial lake which proms part of the Panama Canal. it is a lush jungle watershed region. We went by jungle canals and hilltop islands. Up a small inlet and had White Faced monkeys on our little boat. On to anther area and we had Tamarind monkeys. Heard a howling monkeys a few times while sitting there. Kind of creepy sounding, but did not come down to see us. It had rained right before we got out of the bus, but quit so we had only had nice hot humidity.
On to our resort for the next two nights. Gamboa Rainforest resort. Beautiful place looking out on the Chagres River. It was very warm an humid so we had a nice cold Balboa beer.
We had a very nice dinner. Mahii Mahi , Chicken in a yummy sauce, and an amazing salad bar with all fresh veggies. Cliff liked the dessert bar best! After dinner we watched a documentary on the building of the canal.
Walking out of our room we were hit with all the sounds of a jungle. This is really a beautiful place. We get to hang out some tomorrow morning and then off for a boat trip thru the canal.