Wednesday, March 18, 2015

One Of The Seven Wonders.........

No matter how many times we see the Panama Canal we're still captivated by this modern marvel of engineering.  Just imagine coming up with the idea of cutting through the entire country of Panama, building an artificial lake, and creating a set of locks to move a ship from one ocean to another.  The American Society of Civil Engineers named the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world making it a "must see" for everyone that visits the isthmus of Panama.

We recently had the opportunity again to show some new friends around Panama City, with our first stop being the canal. Making our way there by 9am on a Monday morning, the crowds were minimal and we had great views of three ships making the transit. If you recall it was last year sometime that Clyde and I had the opportunity to transit the canal ourselves on a 42-foot catamaran with two Australian couples that found us through this blog. See link below for full story of our adventure on the high seas!

The following are photos we took recently on our latest journey to the canal and other parts of the megalopolis known as Panama City, Panama. Come along with us through photos that tell the whole story.....along the gringo trail.

Warren and Colleen Visiting From Canada

A Ship Entering A Lock
Two Ships Going Into Parallel Locks

A Close-Up Of A Mule (train used to guide ships through locks) And Lock Gate

A Critter Spotted On The Hilltop
Perhaps.....A Capybara?

View From Ancon Hill

Another View of Panama City

Casco Viejo - The Old Part Of The City And Renovations

Casco Viejo In Panama City, Panama

A Young Man Helped Us Park On The Curb Like This

An Old Church

 View From Altos de Campana Overlook

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Walk Back In Time...... To Noriega's Forgotten Beach House

Our day yesterday took us from the Pacific Coast beaches of Farallon though the majestic mountains of Santa Fe, Panama. Just down the highway from our area lies several of well-known pricey resorts that cater to the tourist looking for an all inclusive Panama experience. 

Nearby the famous resorts sits the remains of what used to be the weekend getaway for former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.  After driving by the compound and asking a few locals for directions, we managed to find what was once a majestic beach-front dwelling.

Side View Into House
These Are The Stairs We Climbed To The
Second And Third Floor. They Didn't Look Safe, But We Made It Up
 Clyde Went First On All Fours, So I Followed

Made It Up But Going Down Was Even Scarier......
Clyde Went Backwards But I Sat Down And Scooted Down Step By Step

 These Were A Breeze Compared To The Other Stairs
Pole Dancing? 

Beach View From House

Notice The Three Levels Of The House

Another View

A Skylight Perhaps?
Waiting For A Drink At The Rooftop Bar?

Balcony Overlooking The Pacific Ocean
Another View Of Rooftop Deck
 And Another

An Island In The Distance With A Cross On It

Local Artist's Rendering Of Noriega. 
Perhaps He Was Commissioned To Do This Piece?
This Place Went On And On.....Even More Dwellings
Across The Road, Perhaps For The Help?

As we entered the eerie old place we had to climb over rocks, rubble and trash.  Our minds wandered as we imagined what life used to be like in Panama under the rule of the ruthless dictator. Surely it wouldn't be a place for foreigners like us to spend our retirement years, so we're thankful that he's safely tucked away in prison.  We bravely climbed up the rickety steps on all fours, and even made our way to the third-level, outdoor entertainment area for a view of the ocean.

It was eerie walking through this house wich once housed the notorious dictator who was later brought down by the United States.  During his reign, it was reported that many soldiers and civilians were put to death in this very dwelling and it's picturesque grounds.  Although we were walking among concrete ruins, we could still feel the awe of standing in the middle of what was once the upper end of luxury.

The Yard

And More Of The Outside

Notice The Barbed Wire On Top Of Wall

A Tour Bus Sat Empty In Driveway, But We Saw No Tourists
Maybe They Were On The Beach?

Across The Road More Houses And A Watertank

Just down the road from the Noriega home and fancy resorts is the "real life" Panamanian village of Farallon.  Dotted with small, brightly colored cement block homes with hammocks swaying in the tropical breeze, this showed what life here is really all about.  We noticed a few brave tourists that left the comfort of the resorts to experience the small town life.  With it's stores, churches, restaurants and other simplicities the town also featured several shops that sold touristy items as a means of support.

An Internet Café/Real Estate Office in Farallon, Panama
Hammocks And Other Touristy Items For Sale

Local Home

Massive Windmills Along The Highway
These Suckers Are HUGE!

After exploring the beach area we headed up into the mountains of Santa Fe. Located in the Veraguas mountain range, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees as we made our way up into the clouds.  Surrounded by national parks, streams, rivers and hiking trails it appeared to be a natures lovers paradise. But even in the dry season rain comes in the mountains and it poured hard as we stopped for a cup of mountain grown coffee at a local restaurant. But since it was already late in the day and our trip was not at all planned, we decided to head back home.  Although it would have been great to spend the night, I didn't even have my purse with me which meant that I had no contact lens supplies to take care of my eye care needs.

Mountains Of Santa Fe

And More Views

But we did snap some photos along the way and managed to borrow others from other online sources for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy them if you will and come with us on a walk through time......along the gringo trail.

A Somber Day.....In Auschwitz, Poland.....

From the moment we left our hotel for our trip to Auschwitz the mood was being set for this life changing experience. Clyde and I were the ...