I just came back from visiting friends in Panama and was amazed by the beauty and diversity of the country. It seems to have everything…old world charm, rich history, modern architecture, exciting night life, beautiful suburbs… to mountains, tropical forests, local artisans and a palm tree lined Pacific Ocean coastline to die for. We experienced it all!
One of the highlights was visiting the Panama Canal, completed in 1914. Watching these huge vessels pass through the locks with inches to spare on either side of the ship (this is called panamax) was amazing. The way the water is transitioned to lift the boats up through the locks is truly an engineering marvel. In the morning the canal runs from Pacific to Atlantic, and switches in the afternoon into evening. The Canal is open 24/7 and the lights of the waiting vessels can be seen from the city just a few miles away.
It only takes about two hours to drive to the mountains. Rich tropical greenery grows freely with the 90% humidity that is common in this climate. Banana, oranges, limes, avocados, and grapefruit trees are seen on private residential properties, such as where we stayed. Fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning was such a treat!
Over the mountains about and hour away is the beautiful Pacific coastline. Many own vehicles called ‘mules’ to take them to and from their homes to the beach. They are a cross between a jeep and a golf cart and are so much fun to explore the beach and see some spectacular coastal homes!