Millions of gallons of water filled the room silently through the invisible pipes below the water line, and we rose 24 feet in just three minutes, into the whole day.
We were finally liberated to Lake mirafores, a small swimming pool located under the Padro Miguel lock, when the Nepalese Hulk was crawled out of the lock wall by four locomotives, we were further tied to the giant wheel with a thick cable.
My experience in two adventures
Mid-day tour of PanamaJanuary-
Islands, jungle and Highlands-making the 50-
A mile of canal crossing made me feel at home.
The tourist boat is very clean. The announcement was translated into English (albeit roughly)
, Transportation on time, good service, I learned about the store in advance for the next day.
But when visiting the incredible natural sights of Panama, this certainty basically does not exist.
Unstable infrastructure and uneven services will only be exacerbated by the unwavering enthusiasm of the national tourism promoters, who do their best to build a sultry, buggy hotel on the scattered beaches
Star Tahiti bungalow.
A close view of the canal and its awe-inspiring, gentle efficiency has sparked a bunch of questions and fascinating answers.
But anything you hear now is not as colorful as the story in the distant history of this route: AmericaS.
Take a ship from the East Coast, walk along the gorge, and a gold rush along the west coast to avoid Native Americans in the Midwest;
During the construction, 22,000 French died of Yellow River and malaria;
1928 swimming by a man named Richard Burton (
His charge: 36 cents).
The canal was handed over on December.
31, 1999, from the United StatesS.
Control of Panama left the United StatesS.
Residents of the Canal Zone, the area around the waterway is basically the United StatesS.
The 90-year Colony
In the past year, many people have left the United States. S.
The operation there is over.
Those who stayed watched their closed lifestyle disappear. Once-
Homogeneous clusters of white plaster buildings and red
The tile roof is now seasoned by the color paint work of some empty buildings purchased by the Panamanian family.
The labor force of the waterway is almost entirely Panamanian.
In other decrees, the government recently ordered the translation of all the signs of the canal district from English to Spanish, a move that was seen as an insult by the Zoni people.
At least for now, English is still the official language within the canal.
At the same time, adventure
The search for tourists began pouring into Panama, which was attracted by affordable, accessible beaches, jungles, hills and islands, and the safety of travel there (
Although the city of Panama and parts of the eastern province of Darian, Colombian Bandits compete with malaria and poisonous snakes for the threat of the day).
With the turmoil of Manuel Noriega for many years, Panama has a friendly people, low
Key Life and robberyfree travel.
The total number of foreigners entering Panama has only increased by 3.
From 1998 to 1999, there were 8% visits, but the number of visits from the United States increased by 18.
Period 5% (
From 97,100 to 115,119)
According to the Panama Tourism Department.
Between 1990 and 1999, the total number of inbound tourists has more than doubled (
From 171,800 to 538,100).
Outdoor activities in Panama are comparable to the experience of tourists --
Great location in Costa Rica, a neighbor with room and ticket
No crowded beaches and jungle
The situation of the gorge is much more common than in Costa Rica.
The question remains whether Panama's tourism industry will mature enough to cope with the inevitable influx of tourists, or whether it will choose to sit aside and count money when the environment that attracts tourists collapses.
When a Kuna Indian teenager puts in each trash can, the canoe sinks in the water.
Two other teenagers adjusted the load and drove away from the pier.
These three cans of garbage represent the value of a few days of garbage from narunega, one of about 400 islands in the San Blas Islands, a string of mainly photographs
The perfect island is dotted with the Caribbean sea of Panama.
Most of the rubbish comes from the San Blas Hotel, a bare-looking-bones sand-and-
In a 448 thatched arrangement
People in the settlement of Kuna
Although this hotel is not large, it is the most popular and convenient San Blas destination for greengos on vacation.
"They will tell you that it will be landfill to the mainland," said Bill, a pottery vendor from Kansas City, Missouri.
He swayed in the hammock with an open-air beer on his belly.
He and his girlfriend Linda spend two months a year in Panama, most of the time at the hotel.
"But look at the ship.
They will go half.
A mile offshore, hang out and come back without rubbish.
"Sadly, the boys followed the script and when they returned to land, they unloaded the empty barrels in an orderly manner.
Many waste management practices in Panama are shocking
Typical of the Third World.
But for the Kuna people, this behavior is part of a stubborn boycott of any change, triggered by the fear of outsiders wanting Indians to integrate into modern society.
Kuna has ruled St Blas since the 1920 th century, when they took a stand centuries after fleeing the warring Indian tribes, the Spanish conquers and others.
Kuna has two delegates in the Panama legislature and may vote in national elections.
Nevertheless, they do not trust outsiders and maintain a serious image unless you are interested in buying one of their brightly woven molas --
Textiles depicting permanent flora and fauna.
Sales opportunities turn the retained Kuna women into animated marketers who can bargain indefinitely without lowering prices. (
I returned to America with four molas. )
Kuna women also wear long Mora-
Decorated clothes, tightly wrapped beads from the ankle to the knee and fine black paint lines on the nose (
Men in this maternal society do not have such traditional clothing).
Narunega is a typical Kuna community: Dozens of huts are crowded together and built on the coastline.
This creates a trade.
Visitors can go: The beautiful white beaches on hundreds of islands lie under palm leaves like silk, but there is no place for tourists to sleep and eat.
So every morning, we pile up and go to the islands that are most occupied by a few kunas. (
The boatman likes islands where people live because
Residents charge $1 per time from tourists.
But you can hire some people in San Blas to take you to the desert island. )
Because each island only receives no more than eight visitors at a time, and because the Kuna people who live there are all alone, I have never felt crowded on these trips.
On successive mornings, we boarded the island of Los Peros and the island of grass, which were apparently cooked in the fantasy of island lovers.
I walked down the perimeter of each island in less than 10 minutes, then snorkeling into the rich coral reefs, where pastel par mouth fish wandered around, even elusive
When I came sideways from the water to the Kuna Lodge on the island of Los Peros (
Island of dogs)
Ramon gave me half of the coconut and he made up half of the island's population (
The other half is his brother, Jose).
The sun beats like a fist on the bare beach, but the shadow of the thatched house is cool and sweet.
The palm trees rustled, the Pelicans scabs, I bit the coconut and the sea salt slowly lumps on my skin.
"Don't you think that Cage is too small for them?
"When we stand there and look at two 20-
One-inch sea turtles are confined to bamboo pens, which are built on the pier of a restaurant in the Bocas del Toro islands off the Caribbean northwest of Panama.
He smiled and shook his head, either to dispel my suggestion or to say that he did not understand the problem and walked away.
When I left, four of our nine-year-old Taiwanese women
A group of people crowded together to chat, while taking pictures, pointing at the turtle.
The restaurant itself is unusual. a rickety slat-and-
Thatch structures are built on stilts next to a group of mangroves and are not attached to any land above sea level --
But our time there was frustrating.
I want to snorkel.
Back to the town of Bocas del Toro (
A real town in these islands)
My friend Courtney and I spent $15 per person and we thought the day would be shuttling through the snorkeling spot with one or two beach stops and a quick break for lunch time.
But here we are at this pier and the whole purpose of our trip is to order but have not had lunch yet.
"It takes time to cook, so we'll be back for dinner later," Oriel explained . ".
That morning, we spent our first hour buzzing around the wide lagoon and the mangroves, playing a ridiculous game where Oriel would be at 25-
They suddenly disappeared and began scanning more creatures to harass.
Taiwanese tourists will scream excitedly and take pictures with every shark fin.
When we were ready to leave the restaurant, we came to a boat of eight tourists. within a few minutes, two Argentine women stood in the waist.
Deep turtle cages laugh while catching frightened reptiles as they spray from one side of the prison to the other.
Female friends filmed the film while putting soot into the water.
On board, only one young Australian woman named Ness objected.
"It was terrible," she said, as her legs swayed 20 feet from the pier, and Argentines played silly with turtles.
"I thought we would go out and explore the islands, snorkel and experience the real experience.
"After this unfortunate trip, our days have improved.
We snorkel on a shallow coral bed full of psychedelic fish, barefoot after lunch hiking through the muddy jungle to a remote, rough place --
Sean Beach, home to a group of small, dark peopleorange frogs.
Later, margar Tower flowed on the waterfront deck and the only regret we had was that we could customize a perfect day --
Bocas del Toro contains many quiet islands and pristine beaches-
If we know we hired an entrepreneur boatman along the Bocas Street pier instead of signing up for a standard tour (
We booked our trip at a fishing/snorkeling/diving company).
Like many places in Panama. the town)
Is expanding rapidly.
Once only a muddy main street was destroyed along with pensiones, several restaurants and a dive shop, the business district quickly climbed up the side of the road and entered the mountains, with locals and repeat visitors saying the density increased significantly.
Calle 3 now
Paved main drag to support the backpacker parade, as I saw seven years ago in Goska, vacationers can follow the locals through the green leaf path to watch the land for sale.
It wasn't until I arrived at a small cottage in the cold, heavy dusk that I realized how dangerous I must have looked.
Dress from head to foot in the dark
I was wet and muddy with a small piece of wood in my hand, this is a prop that can help me communicate with people who live here and I urgently need to dry firewood (
What is that Spanish word? )
Heating my dormitory.
Courtney and I just finished a 4-hour, rain-
Wet hike through Parque internonal onal La Amistad, a 157-foot-high jungle-square-
A mile park spans the Costa border and has 7 of the world's 12 classified life zones.
We are in Guadalupe Mountain, Guadalupe is an agricultural village in the West.
In central Panama, the altitude rises from 6,625 feet to about 7,300 feet above sea level, and the cold altitude makes the relentless rain colder.
When we came back trembling, we found a lonely wood in the bin, which should keep us warm at night.
The welcome sheet for this place promises plenty of dry wood (strike one)
The two guides who led us to the forest cottage mysteriously disappeared from the cabin next door (strike two).
So I grabbed the log and set off towards the only other person we saw all day.
Realizing how terrible I looked, I put down the firewood, took off the hood and knocked on the door of the cabin.
Four puzzled faces replied, I think even that swaddling baby in sw would like to know why this really damp guy stood at his door at night. But-
Base strike: The father was the administrator of the scattered cottage and instructed his teenage son to take me to a hidden stake.
I'm weaving this quarter in a few minutes. mile, rain-
In the dark with 90-
My father's apology echoed in my mind: "My son can't accompany you;
It's too cold outside.
Although not as high as the nearby Balu volcano
11,408 feet highest point in Panama)
Nevertheless, the steep jagged hills of Amistad have hindered most of the passing rain clouds, providing an ideal incubator for green loamy cocoons dotted with red pineapple
We were told that when the sun was full, the park was the Garden of Eden for birdwatchers, with hundreds of birds, including the bright and crazy quetzal.
While quetzals are the same as most jungle birds, it is reported that there are many quetzals on these hills and sometimes even leave the forest near Guadalupe.
But because they hate the rain, we didn't see our only quetzal until we flew out of town by taxi.
It stands against the white sky under a picnic shed on the side of the road.
"You'll see these everywhere," said Gwendy, a friend of mine who lives in Panama City, when we drove past a car accident and the bumpers of the losers were lying on the ground.
"The biggest problem is that drivers are not allowed to move their cars until the police show up, which sometimes takes hours.
"This policy, coupled with the Panama drivers in Brazil and a large number of road engineering projects, has caused more traffic jams than I have ever seen.
The first line of hope for this congestion is that most backups are physically short and usually short, more like peak times in downtown Washington than 20-I-miles on95.
With a few exceptions, the city is a morass of uncoordinated buildings --
A poky tin supermarket next to the apartment building, next to a shopping mall, is adjacent to a string of quaint houses.
But what is confusing is that there are great restaurants, modern necessities (including ATMs)
And some opportunities for enlightening travel.
My three days in the capital include canal transportation and a long hike in two legitimate jungle parks within 15 minutes of the city center (
Recommended by a guide so big)
, Fuzzy benefits (! )
Fresh seafood food and visit the first two places in Panama City, Casco Viejo and Panama Viejo.
The latter has been ignored by the government for too long, partially occupied by residents of neighbouring slums, and is now a frustrating group at the beginning of the 17 th.
The ruins of the century are only worth a visit by an incurable historian.
But Casco Vijo, who became the city center in the 1670 s, had Museums and historic buildings (
Including a dungeon. turned-
Restaurant and presidential palace)
And the pulsating barrier of No. 18
Century House, flower-
Balcony and street life.
It is difficult to distinguish between restaurants and bars and families and shops, as so many doors are open and music can be released to the streets.
It's a bit hard to walk along. Casco Viejo looks like a French Quarter in New Orleans;
Paint peeling, housing listing, and poor clothes have exposed the economic plight of local residents.
But what they lack mentally is money: The neighbors chat and laugh on the balcony, the children play football on the street, and the food vendors roll on the bike.
You can spend a few hours alone without feeling lonely.
Be careful at night;
Almost all tourist resources warn that robbers will attack Casco after dark.
Even my taxi driver reminded me to leave before nightfall, and he used a Spanish word I had never heard of before: ratero.
So as the shadow hangs over the narrow streets, I go to the newer city center, burn calories and see more cities before dark.
My route took me through six.
The Avenida Central Pedestrian Street, the tourist mall of Panama City, where I did not notice the sun disappearing from the open storefront.
The crazy street scene is far more than the goods sold.
From electronics, $5 shirts and high
End the walking tour with jewelry, grain and raw sausage.
So when I'm tired of people
Looking, I stopped and left the area the fastest way to check out my guide.
From the crowded crowd, a woman caught my eye, a tall Latina, rocking her hips and drawing --
Wearing jeans through the mall.
She swept me in a hurry and whispered a few words of Spanish in my ear: "put the map away!
Rateros is watching you!
"She's gone, I'm gone too, fast in and out of the store, and my backpack is holding onto my chest and heading towards a crossroads and a taxi.
It was such a simple gesture that a woman warned a urchin on a tourist Street without endangering herself at all, but it could save me from the painful experience.
I don't have a clever analogy to distinguish between this incident and the state of tourism in Panama.
It can be said that Panama offers adventure travel in its own way, a product from very real to poor ignorance, and occasionally both appear at the same time.
So go now, but travel with an open mind and don't expect to be as relaxed or comfortable as tourism usually defines.
Endure the rough edges, endure the medium service, and, in any case, have fun in the sparkling waters, the pristine jungle, and the tranquil towns.
As more and more Americans follow you, it is not clear what they will become.
John Briley's last letter for leisure travelroad driving.
Details: arrival in Panama: Daily connectivity from Washington area to Panama City Tocumen international airport is available in the US, Continental and Delta;
Round-trip fares are $441, with restrictions.
I use Airdeals. com (1-888-999-2174)
$369 round trip.
Walking around: taxis are everywhere in Panama and are cheap most of the time.
$18 to $25 is expected (
The local currency is the currency of the United States. S. dollar)
From the airport to Panama City but less than $4 by car in the city (
Determine the fare before accepting the ride).
Flights are the easiest way to get through from Panama City to tourist attractions, and while domestic flights are often bumpy, they can be affordable even at the last minute and are generally available (
No discount for early purchase).
Panama airlines that provide domestic services include Aeroperlas (011-507-315-7555 or 011-507-315-7500, www. aeroperlas. com), Aereo Taxi (011-507-264-8644)and Aviatur (011-507-270-1748).
Alternatively, you can book through the US. S.
Travel operators of the Panama branch, such as Panama Jones (1-888-726-2621, www. panamacanal. com).
Please note that these flights took off from Albrook, the former air force base --cum-domestic-
Closer to the airport in Panama City than Torquay (
It takes about $5 to get a taxi from town to Albrook).
All round trip fares from Panama City include: San Blas (
El Porvenir Island), $50;
Bocas del Toro, $94; and David (
City closest to Guadalupe), $116.
David is one of the only cities except Panama City to offer flights to destinations;
The price of a ticket to and from Boca Del Toro is $40.
Car rental services available at reasonable prices in Panama City and David (
I pay $35 a day from the National car rental company, including insurance;
You can book in advance with major US companiesS. offices).
Be very vigilant when driving in Panama City;
Active Driving is not a problem outside the city, but road conditions require constant attention.
Language: Spanish is the official language, although English is spoken in many places and tourist attractions around Panama City, such as Bocas del Toro, San Blas and Isla Grande.
Where to stay: Panama City has dozens of hotels in all budget areas.
I love the Marbella hotel
011-Calle D between yousibio A Morales and yousibio A Morales507-263-2220;
The price of the weekend is $36, and the price of the weekend is $44).
This is a modern place with air conditioning, hot water and a delightful restaurant/bar in the lobby.
It is close to many restaurants in a safe neighborhood.
Laguna Hotel in Boca del Toro (
On the main drag Calle 3 of Bocas, 011-507-757-9091)
Small doubles with clean, air conditioning and hot water for $56 (
Although this price fluctuates with demand).
There is also a restaurant in the hotel.
In the San Blas Islands: Hotel San Blas in narunega (011-507-262-5410;
$35 per room)is basic-
Thin bamboo wall, sand floor, shared coldBathroom-
But it really fits the atmosphere on the island.
I bought a San Blas package including the hotel for $135 (
Three meals a day and a boat trip)and round-trip air.
The flight landed at El Porvenir;
A boatman met hotel guests on the runway.
In Guadalupe, I live in a cottage called Los cozales.
In the forest at the park's border, about two miles from town, 011-507-771-2182;
Up to 6 people, $100 to $125 per cabin).
Full kitchen and hot water (
Although all I have is tepid)
It is located in a dense forest.
You can also stay at the logerzars Hotel (
The same owner and telephone number as the cottage;
$30 to $35 per pair)
A beautiful, rather modern wooden cabin with restaurant.
The price of the cottage and cottage includes tour guides and horses, as well as the use of poncho and rubber boots.
Panama Canal Tour: Argo tour (011-507-228-6069, www. islamorada. com)
Crossing most of the canal every Saturday (
About 8 hours
Breakfast and lunch included for $90)
And run 12 full shipments per year ($135).
You can also view the operation free of charge on the observation platform of Miraflores lock in the canal.
Where to eat: there is an endless selection of restaurants in Panama City.
I had great fresh seafood in La Coralina (
Through Simon Bolivar Calle 6 Norte y;
About $6 for lunch)
More upscale Mare (
N Calle of Guatemala, next to El picojo;
$22 for dinner and wine).
In Casco Viejo, a very low
The main place for rest is the cafe (San Felipe;
Wine dinner from $14, with indoor-Outdoor seating.
If you want to have an authentic Panama breakfast, try El Boulevard (
Avenda Balboa 31 Esther);
Cheap and fast, with locals everywhere.
In Bocas del Toro, El pirates and Buena Vista (
All on the main belt Calle 3)
Beautiful deck on the water.
The El pirate hotel has a local atmosphere and the service and dinner prices are around $6.
It feels American.
California owners watch TV sports from the United States
In addition to the food, there is a great blender drink.
Dinner starts at $8.
Finally, the tap water in Panama can be safely drunk.
Travel agency: Travel in nanla (011-507-269-
Ninfo @ sinfo, 5847. net)
Handle all of my internal arrangements including booking my canal trip and arranging an air trip.
The owner, Lina Troendle, moved from Boston two years ago. For harder-core eco-
Tour, try eco circuit/Margo tour (011-507-264-8888, www. ecocircuitos. com);
The managers Aida Orillac and Ana Young speak English.
Information: Embassy of Panama, 202-483-