I finally have internet access so can get this first post out…..
Our flight from Atlanta was delayed about 45 minutes but was uneventful after that. I watched the movie “Hidden Figures” and absolutely loved it. It will definitely be added to our movie library!!
In was exciting to step off of the plane and into a new country for me!! As we walked thru the airport we were excited to find an ATM and quickly requested our cash but it came out in US Dollars!! I am sure that the amazed look on our faces was clear to everyone walking past. However, we were later assured that Panama uses US dollars as it’s main currency although it is given a different name…..the Balboa, named after the famous explorer.
We were met by Michael’s host, Allen, and took a midnight drive thru Panama City and to the small township of Gamboa which is where Allen lives. Gamboa is the last true “Canal Town” in Panama. It was basically half way between the Atlantic and Pacific and was originally the home of the dredging and maintenance division.
As we were driving Allen pointed out that we were at center of the Continental Divide….kind of cool!!
We awoke to a cacophony of bird calls including one that sounded much like a Bob-White Quail from West Texas!! As I dried my hair, looking dreamily out the window, I saw two Agouti, a small blocky-nosed mammal that wanders the area freely. I look forward to seeing more at a closer range.
I enjoyed exploring the area around Allen’s home, especially these small wasps….
After an alfresco breakfast,…..
…..where we could hear the whine of the ship engines as they navigated the canal, we hopped in the car and were given a whirl-wind tour of Gamboa. Most of the houses are original from the Canal building days and are built in treehouse style with a central base with a wrap-around porch, and the living area upstairs. Even the new houses that are being built here are in the same style….
Allen had said that he would show us some places that we could explore while he was out for a couple of hours and for a while I tried to keep up with the turns and street names. Finally I realized that he was just meandering thru the streets so I gave up on the map. Instead I asked for his physical address so that we could use Google Maps if we got hopelessly lost!! Toward the end of our drive Allen described Gamboa as an outer loop and an inner labyrinth and I do believe it!!
We stopped at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort to have a look at Lago Gatun which is a manmade lake that provides the water for the Canal…..
A short drive in the other direction put us overlooking the canal itself…..
I especially like the old lighthouse, covered in nests for bees and birds….
We saw a group of tourists armed with snake hooks and cameras, apparently looking for Iguanas and Fer-de-lance snakes. I preferred chasing this Iguana…..
Michael needed some time to work on his talk and just to rest up a bit (his energy levels are still a bit low) so we just relaxed in the house instead of going out walking.
Michael is in Panama to give three talks to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) located in Panama. After lunch we headed out to one of the mainland campuses….the Tupper campus for him to give his first talk.