The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More on the Cruise

Okay, here's another chapter on our cruise to the Western Caribbean, I hope you're not tired of reading about it.

After Cartagena we headed for the Panama Canal and arrived early on the morning of February 25th. This was certainly one of the highlights of the cruise. The building of that canal almost 100 years ago was truly a remarkable accomplishment! Now operated completely by Panama it certainly brings some serious revenue to the Panamanian government. The cost for our ship to pass though the Gatun Locks and return was approximately $350,000.

From the Gatun Locks we entered Gatun Lake. At that point we and our friends left the ship via tender and went on a pre-paid tour of those same locks, followed by a trip to the town of Portobelo. The visit to the locks, this time from ashore, was especially interesting. I've included a few photos below so you can get a feel for what we saw.
Above: the Gatun Locks as we passed through early that morning

Above: two small but obviously powerful locomotives towing a container ship through the Gatun Locks

Above: the locks from the observation platform. Notice the tight squeeze for these larger ships.

Our tour guide was a bit odd -- I won't bore you with my reasons for saying that -- but he next took us to the city of Portobelo where we visited the local church, famous for its statue of the Black Christ (El Christo Negro). (See photo below.)
We also viewed the town's old Spanish fortifications and met some of the locals intent on selling us their native handcrafts. They were largely successful. I've included a few photos (below) of the local folks I met as I wandered around.

One little girl was especially photogenic. She was selling small bracelets, but I think she made more money posing for pictures. (See below)

More tomorrow...

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