The Panama Canal. I GET IT!

Several years ago I visited the Panama Canal for the first time. In all honesty, I didn’t get it. I wasn’t impressed nor could I wrap my mind around why everyone else thought this “pass” was so impressive.

Yesterday I re-visited the canal and took several hours walking through the museum in hopes to really get an understanding of this marvel of modern engineering. And boy did I ever.

Not only was my mind blown by the sheer enormity of the project but also by the time, loss of life and the history. I also walked away with a serious understanding of exactly how the lock system and the rising and lowering of the water level is essential in moving the ships through the canal.

Upon arriving at the Miraflores Visitor’s Center I was surprised by the sleekness of the building. Very simple and sleek for a tourist destination in Panama. Upon entering I was just as surprised by the flow of the museum and the layout of the exhibits.

When you get there, if a ship is passing through the locks go outside and watch. Fight your way to the second floor viewing deck. It will be crowded but it’s worth elbowing your way to the front to see and to get some good photos.

Next, make your way inside and start meandering through the exhibits. The first floor starts with the very beginning and the history of the canal. Here you will find displays and explanations of the first tools used and engineering techniques that were state of the art at the time. As you progress through the first floor it’s interesting to see the “technological advancements”

The second floor houses displays of wildlife found throughout the canal zone. Lots of creepy crawlers behind glass. The only live animals on this floor are a few turtles.

The third floor is about the experience and workings of the canal.m there are models of some of the dredging boats they used and lots of information and facts about those who worked on the construction of the canal There is a simulator that takes you through the canal and a replica of the canal control room that I can only imagine is similar to what air traffic controllers experience on a daily basis.

The fourth floor is the smallest and is about the canal today. Who uses it, what it costs and the progress of the ongoing expansion. All of the displays on all levels are in Spanish and English.

There is about film you can watch. It’s about 15 minutes long, entirely in Spanish and tells you all the same information you can get from the exhibits. My only complaint about the Miraflores visitors center is that the gift shop leaves much to be desired.

If you come to Panama and don’t visit the canal then something is seriously wrong with your trip planning skills. Although you may not think it’s a must see or terribly exciting it truly is an impressive thing to see. While outside watching the ships pass through notice that there really is only a few inches space between the ships and the canal wall. Missing out on visiting the canal would be missing out on a major part of Panama.

Now, for those of you who like your knowledge to come in song form, CLICK HERE for catchy little diddy and about how the Panama Canal works…

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Panama Canal Museum, Miraflores Locks

Panama Canal, Museum

Miraflores, Panama

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal

Panama Canal, Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal Museum

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal Museum