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The Panama Canal

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The Panama Canal


Visited the Panama Canal today. Yup. It was a canal. Felt as if I was checking something off of a list as I stood on the observation tower looking down upon the ships in the locks.

I took the public bus out of Panama City and made Miraflores within twenty minutes. From there it was a short walk to the canal. Watched a big ship move by through the locks as I walked towards it. When I arrived at the canal it became apparent that it was heavily guarded and gated in. The romantic taste of the canal quickly escaped from my mouth as I was scolded by a security guard for looking at the canal from an uncommon vantage point. Or maybe he thought that I was considering thieving it and did not want to take any chances. Either way, I then realized that I would have to meet the throng of tourists that were huddled together below the base of the large observation tower that jutted out over the waterway if I was to really look at the canal.

The Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal


I debated if it was worth it. The price was $5 to look at the Panama Canal. Mira was annoyed that we were being charged money just to only look at something, and that there were security employed seemingly to just prevent us from stealing these precious looks at the canal from the ground.

We debated just riding back to the city, as we went to the canal zone, watched a ship move passed from a distance, jump up in the air at a fence and saw some water. We already went to the Panama Canal, did we really need to pay $5 to climb an observation tower with the tourists.

We meandered over to observation building because that was just where our feet took us. Sneaking in did not seem likely of success, but we did notice that students can get in for three dollars instead of five. Five dollars was too much to pay, but three dollars was managable. Without adu I dug out my pile of student identification cards that I keep on me for such purposes- I will probably still be using them when I am 65 years old- found one without a photo that Mira could use, and passed them under the ticket window with six dollars. No questions were asked, and we were given two tickets.

So we ran up the tower and looked out over the Miraflores locks.

The Panama Canal.

Took some photos, drank a Sprite, watched a ship in the distance belch clouds of think black smoke from its hull, looked at a big crane, listened to a woman yell facts over a loud speaker.

Thought of Richard Halliburton.

No, our Panama Canal adventures were not very similar.



My cards are cast with the Erie Canal and the Grand Canal of China.


Canals without fences are for Romance.

The Panama Canal.

More photographs of the Panama Canal on

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Panama City, Panama
February 22, 2008

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Filed under: Central America, Panama

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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