Panama Canal Trip Part 4

Sigh OK it’s been awhile since I last posted. I have been working a lot and have had quite a few deadlines I needed to achieve. I have some hard decisions to make in the next few weeks as well but more on that later. Good weather finally arrived here in Victoria it went from winter to summer almost overnight and then after 10 days of awesome weather back to winter again. Oh well. I have 2 more posts of the Panama Canal trip and then I will post some customer quilt pictures.

So once we were through the Canal we had a day at sea and then our first port on the Pacific Coast side which was Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Mom and I had both been to Costa Rica before so weren’t sure what to do there. There is not much to do at the port so if you want to see something you pretty much have to take a tour. Most of the tours were 6 or more hours and neither Mom or I were up for that so we decided on a 3 hour tour that took us to a small town where some school children put on a performance for us. We then went to a small market and just generally got to see some of the countryside.

When we docked in Costa Rica there was what looked like a beautiful beach (somehow I didn’t take a picture of it) and I was thinking I might walk down and walk the beach, however it was really hot so I decided not to. Our tour left at 1 in the afternoon and once on the bus we drove by the beach I could see from the ship. Oh my garbage everywhere it was really disgusting. The town was little more than a shanty town and I would have been a lone female walking by myself. I am glad I decided it was too hot.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures in Costa Rica as I really don’t like taking pictures from a moving bus. Above is a shot of the children just before they started their performance. I did get some videos of them dancing. Unfortunately I can’t load videos on this website and I haven’t had a chance to look into other options as of yet. Costa Rica was nice enough but it is not a place I would really want to spend a lot of time in although I know people that do like it.

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Random picture of the Easter desert on board.

The next port was Puerto Corinto in Nicaragua. Neither Mom or I had ever been to Nicaragua. We learned that the port was really an industrial port with not much to see so we decided to take a tour to the city of Leon.

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A look at the admin building at the port. It was defiantly a working freighter port. I sat outside writing an email to Kevin while there and boy was it noisy.

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The drive to Leon was very comfortable in an air conditioned coach. The countryside was pretty but there was garbage everywhere. The picture above is of a market located in the main city square of the town. The main cathedral was also located in the square.

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Here I am standing by the fountain in the square with the Cathedral de Leon in the background. The fountain could have done with a good cleaning and the water was green and full of algae.

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You can see the green water and the garden that could do with a little bit of loving care.

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Here are two pictures inside the Cathedral de Leon in Leon Nicaragua. It is the largest cathedral in Central America and it was beautiful but it was also didn’t have air conditioning and it was like a sauna in there. There were so many groups of tourists from two different cruise ships you could barely move. The temperature outside was 98F or 37C with almost 100% humidity. All I know is that it was HOT!! I would have loved to explore the surrendering streets around the square but after the sauna of the cathedral Mom and I were both done and we hightailed it (along with about 50% of the other people on the tour) back to the waiting, running air conditioned bus.

Now for those who know me well, they know I hate being cold and I am usually not a fan of air conditioning, however it those temps it was very, very welcome.

The next port was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. I have been there before. Again, there is not a lot to see at the port itself you have to travel an hour to the small city of La Antigua which is the colonial capital and is a UNESCO world heritage site. I LOVE this town. I loved it the last time I was there and I loved it this time also. I really, really want to go here some day and stay for more than a few hours and truly explore all the small city has to offer. The scenery up to the city is really wonderful and there is not near the garbage around like there is in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The city is made up of cobbled streets with traditional walled buildings all which have wonderful hidden courtyards in them.  Since we were much higher up in altitude in Antigua the temperature was much more conducive to sightseeing.

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Here is a glimpse of one of the original tiled entryways. There are a lot of them around the city. You can just glimpse the courtyard oasis beyond.

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Here is a picture of the courtyard of the hotel that is right in the middle of the town.

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Here is another courtyard. In this one the indigenous woman have set up there hand woven clothing for sale to the tourists. In Guatemala 60% of the population are indigenous to the region.

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Another view of the blouses for sale. All hand woven by the woman. Aren’t they colourful?

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In La Antigua there is a really cool market that you have to know where it is as it just looks like a hole in the wall. Once you step in though you are greeted by all manner of wonderful handwoven treasures of the area.

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This was a hidden gem of a courtyard that I glimpsed as we were walking by as the doorway was open.

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Look what I found in that same courtyard. A patchwork blanket made of all those wonderful handwoven textiles covering a bench. Look at the wonderful tiled floor under the bench.

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Another view of the cobbled streets and a very old archway.

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I loved these wonderful doors. You can just image the secrets they have behind them.

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We had hired a guide to take us on a walking tour of the city. Our friend Tom who we had met on board the ship had joined Mom and I as his sister Karen had seen the city before. Here we are in a chocolate factory and Jose our guide is demonstrating something.  Notice the wonderful tiled floor.

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After a time we were very hot and thirsty so stopped in a small cafe where we got real fruit drinks that were heavenly. Here is a shot of myself, Mom and our friend Tom.

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The last picture for this leg of the journey is a sunset at sea.

So one more post to finish up and then onto more quilting posts.

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Panama Canal Trip Part 3

It’s been a busy week so far and the next few weeks look like they may just be as crazy. Oh well. The weather has not improved at all here. We have had a couple of nice days where the temperature was warmer and the sun was out but all in all pretty miserable. Moving somewhere warmer is defiantly looking appealing these days.

So back to the Panama Canal trip. This post will be a little photo heavy.

After leaving Cartegena, Columbia the ship hightailed it to the Canal. We were scheduled to start the transit just before 7:00 am. When transiting the Canal the ships open up the front part of their decks (these parts are normally reserved for staff only) Now I have cruised through the Panama Canal twice before but each time it is a thrill. There is something very magical about the whole thing. I was up around 6:00 am and went in search of my new friends as we had made a date the night before to meet in the lineup. You have to line up early to ensure you get a great spot for picture taking without a lot of heads in the way. Upon finding my friends we still had about 45 minutes before they were going to open up the viewing areas so we each took turns heading out to take pictures so we didn’t loose our place in line.

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It was still dark outside as the ship approached the canal. As you can see there were a lot of freighters hanging around waiting for their turn to head through the canal.

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When you get down near the equator you will find that once the sun creeps up over the horizon it doesn’t take long before it’s daylight. Dawn and Dusk are very short in that part of the world. Here is a picture with dawn just breaking on the horizon.

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A couple more shots of the surrounding area just at dawn before we start our journey through the canal.

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Here we are heading towards the first of the locks on the Atlantic side. Panama is in the process of building a new bridge across this channel.

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Here is a small ferry waiting to go across the channel. There were a number of small ferries such as this along the way. Maybe that is why the building of the bridge.

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Here we are sailing by the original cut started by the French in 1881 but this turned into a disaster with the death toll upwards of over 22,000. The project was disbanded and the jungle claimed most of it however this channel still remains.

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A picture of the dense jungle that was on both sides of us at this point.

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Here we are coming up to the first lock. You can see one ship heading into a lock on the left hand side. We would be going into the right hand side one.

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Another small ferry and you can see the jungle in the background.

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Gates opening up to allow us to go into the lock.

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A look back at all of the people up watching as we enter the first lock.

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A view of the surrendering area, again, notice the jungle is not that far off.

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This little cart is called a mule. They have cables attached from them to the ship. They are there to ensure we enter in straight and not hit the sides.

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In this picture you can see how high up the other ship is in the background. The water has lowered for us to be able to enter the lock. The water will then rise up so we will end up at the same level as the ship shown in this picture.

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Well we made it through the first locks locks (see map above) and have now entered Lake Gatun. In the last picture you can see the freighter that was in the left hand chambers of the locks as it sails ahead of us into the lake. Now it was time to go and find Mom and head for breakfast.

It would take the rest of the day to sail through the lake and through another two sets of locks before we reached the Pacific Side. We sailed under the Bridge of Americas around 5:30 pm.

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The Bridge of the Americas is a road bridge which connects North and South America. It is located near Panama City. You can see all of the freighter traffic near Panama City off in the background.

I was just able to take this picture before heading to the dining room for dinner. The next day was a sea day and then our first port on the Pacific side.

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