Sunday, September 12, 2010

Panama City

We began the Panama portion of our trip with 2 full days in Panama City, based in the neighborhood of Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is the old city -- but not the very old city, which was sacked and burned by pirates in 1671. Afterwards the city leaders decided to rebuild in a more easily defendable spot, so they picked this peninsula which juts into Panama Bay.

When Panama became independent, Panama City was still limited to the Casco Viejo area. As the city grew, Casco Viejo went into decline, becoming a neglected slum. Recently the government began a concerted effort to improve the neighborhood.

Now, as you walk around the neighborhood, there are decaying buildings everywhere, and streets and sidewalks that are full of holes. But there is reconstruction work going on too. Several old buildings were in the process of being repaired when we were there, and much of Casco Viejo is beautiful now.

Plaza de la Independencia in Casco Viejo. Top picture is of the National Cathedral. The third picture is looking towards the glitzy new section of Panama, one of whose towers is visible.

That´s the President´s house in Casco Viejo on the left. This is as close as we could get.

Looking towards glitzy modern Panama City.

Our second day we went to the Canal. The Panama Canal´s visior´s center at Miraflores is very touristy, so of course we went there. What other obvious place is there to pick up a Panama Canal shot glass? We then checked out the museum on the history, ecology and workings of the Canal. It´s a very well-done, modern exhibit, with everything bilingual in English and Spanish.

Then we went up to the observation deck where, with the hot sun beating down on us, we watched as a huge container ship passed through the locks on its way to the Pacific.

The ship enters the locks.

The water level has been made equal.

And the ship goes on through.


Unknown said...

I wonder if I might ask your permission to use this panama city image in a piece of artwork.

Brendan said...

Of course.

Which image? (I'm curious.)