Panama City – Day 3 : locks and sloths

Today was really full !

We started (after the unlimited pancakes at our hostel) by going to the jungle, because it had been too long ! Panama City caters to a big park, relatively accessible from the public transportation network (there is a great subway here, made by Alstom, it’s written on it !). We saw there a few joggers, but also other tourists like us, coming to spot a sloth, because a lot of them live there. Unfortunately, we are in the middle of migrating season for birds of prey from North America, and since these tend to eat the sloths, they hide during this time of year, so we didn’t see any of them. However, we saw a porcupine, tons of colorful birds, birds of prey (at least !), a rabbit, turtles, basiliscs, lizards like the ones at home but much bigger, huge colonies of ants and agoutis. They aren’t all very exotic, but still enough for us !

The path also lead to a mirador (the place where you can see far away, not the watchtower) with some nice windows on the city. Then, we got back in the shade of the canopy.

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The walk was very nice, but after a while the moist heat got suffocating, so we headed to some more open spaces. We returned to the terminus of the subway and, after a mall-detour to grab a bite to eat (which was enormous and hectic), we went to this unavoidable and almost mandatory tour : the canal.

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But first, a pic with the mall’s dino !

Even if we don’t perceive it at all from the city center, it is almost impossible to say “tourist” and “Panama” in the same sentence without “canal” crashing the party, a bit like with “pyramid” and “Egypt”. So we went, but we took the stingy option : instead of paying 30$, which is the price of a night, to visit the museum and see the canal from the 5th floor terrace, we paid 7,50$ for a lemonade and a strawberry juice (this is very expensive, but still less) and we sat at the 3rd floor terrace. We advise every tourist to take the stingy option, since you can also hear the explanations given to the tourists who took the more costly option, you see the locks just as well, and you get fresh beverages.

A big container ship passes in the other branch of the canal, behind the building

Altogether, we didn’t find the canal to be as incredible as we heard (sorry, untranslatable french pun there). I’ll admit it’s a little bit broader than the Canal du Midi. It is also sort of impressive to see this huge boat perfectly and tightly framed between the walls, but the maneuvers are so slow that it gets boring to wait for some action, and when it gets interesting, you are over the heat and it’s time to close the terrace. So we watched for some time and left for our next discovery…

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… Panama City’s rush hour in a bus ! Turns out, it’s as lame as it sounds ! Traffic is more hectic and people less polite, and these make the journey even longer if compared to basic french traffic jams. When we finally got out of there, we took the subway, picked up our backpacks at our hostel, which didn’t have any more rooms for us tonight, so we took a bus into the city center, explored a few streets at the bottom of towers and found our new hostel ! We are now in the banking district in a place that looks nice !

See you tomorrow, X

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