April 8, 2017:
This morning we arose to another beautiful day in Casco Viejo, and made our way over to the “Super Gourmet (or “Super G”, to the locals) for a killer breakfast. Super G was one of the first outposts of civilization returning to Casco Viejo a few years ago. It was started by a guy from Tennessee named Blake, and it’s really good.
Then we packed up and were picked up from La Isabela by Rafael (also from Easy Travel Panama) who had the task of taking us to the new Visitors’ Center at the expansion of the Panamá Canal at the Gatún Locks, before driving us over to the cruise port terminal in Colón, where we will board the Windstar Star Breeze, for our tour through Colombia and the ABC Netherlands Antilles islands (Aruba, Bonaire & Curaçao).
Once again, we scored as we approached the locks because we were able to watch one of the newport-Panamax cargo ships going through the locks. This was a feat that would not have been possible before the opening of the new, wider third lane of the Panamá Canal last year. 2 years ago, we were able to go to this same spot on the Pacific side of the Canal to see construction nearing an end. Notably, at that time, the contractors had just installed the cool new hydraulic locks and were testing them.
This time, we were able to see the locks operating, and the ship being very carefully guided into the entrance of the locks by four separate 60,000 horsepower tugboats. There was a stiff cross breeze blowing, so the tugs really had their work cut out for them! I know this is two posts in a row about the amazing engineering marvels of this Canal, and its locks, so maybe JIm is rubbing off too much on me and I’m geeking out a bit too much. But, … it really is cool!
Finally, it was time to drive over to the Cristobal port and board our home for the next 8 nights. As you can see, Shawn made even the muster cluster safety drill fun! Stay tuned, because after about an arduous 1 hour sail tonight, tomorrow we explore Portobelo.