Thursday, June 5, 2008

Panama Canal & Costa Rica

It takes a full day to go through the Panama Canal, three sets of locks are at each end with a large lake in between. It is very difficult to take pictures that show the scale of the Panama Canal. The picture below shows us having traversed through the first Lock and I'm standing on the back of the ship taking a picture of a US Submarine and a Warship about to go through the first Lock behind us.

Our ship had only 9 inches space either side and 1 foot at each end so we just managed to squeeze through, it's called a Panamax ship, meaning it will fit through the Panama Canal but is at the maximum size that can fit through. This picture belowshows a container ship entering the first lock that is parallel to the one we were travelling through.

Here's the little "trains" that pull the ship through the Locks....strong little buggers!!! We were given some trivia over the ships address system while going through and apparently the cheapest amount that someone had to pay to travel through the Panama Canal was a person that paid .37c to swim through the Locks! How keen is that!!!

The next stop was Puntarenas in Costa Rica. We did a tour called "Skywalk in the Forest" which was basically a walk through a rainforest including some suspension bridges over ravines. A very humid day but pretty spectacular scenery! At one point our guide ordered everyone to stop as we heard some banging and crashing very close to us, "okay everyone, let's move along quickly now, that noise was made by some wild pigs that have been feeding on the track not far ahead of us". Wild pigs!!!! Scoot we did!!! Here's Grant walking across one of the suspension bridges.

Below is a tree that's lovingly called an "alligator tree". If my pictures are doing the right thing are are able to be clicked on, you'll see all those little black things are sharp pointy things that protect the tree from critters! Don't you just love the Bromeliads that were growing everywhere in the trees!

Next up is a non-friendly native! These not-so-little ants were used by the natives to help heal wounds. They'd hold the wound together, then let the ant bite the edges and then twist the body off and voila....the head acts like a little suture! Thank goodness for modern medicine, can't see myself doing this type of "self-healing" any time soon!

Okay, the little green things below are actually bits of leaf that the leaf-cutter ants haul through the forest to their little home. Very cool to watch a whole pile of these little ants making their way across one of our walking tracks and yes, we were all very careful to take a BIG step over them so as not to upset their trail.

Lastly, a beautiful sunset taken from the boat after a wonderful day spent in Costa Rica!

Bet you can't guess what Costa Rica's #1 export is??? No, not tourism, it's computer chips for Intel! They are a very stable democracy, it's law that 40% of the Government must be made up of women, their Parliament only has two terms in office then they are booted out to give the other guys a go and they have no military whatsoever! Our guide said the no military thing is because they don't have anything worth stealing so they don't need thinks not! A very friendly place and we felt much more comfortable there than in Columbia. Did I tell you that in Columbia when we went on that Fort Tour there was a guy with a big waddie - like a baseball bat - that followed us everywhere. Grant recognised it for what it was, he was our enforcer/bouncer to make sure all the tourists were safe!

I'll be working on finishing the Fun Foam atc's this weekend so should have some pics by Sunday well as our next Port of Call.....The Mexican Riviera - Huatulco, Acapulco & Cabo San Lucas.....arriba, arriba, undalay,undalay.....loose translation "hurry up and let's get going"!


Jacky said...

Great pics Kelsey... love the lochs. I want to visit Scotland as they have an amazing loch (cradle type affair)...would like to go through that one.
Thanks for sharing.

Sam Marshall said...

Love the photos Kelsey- those ants are amazing!!!!

Dawnie said...

Fantastic photo's Kelsey so thanks for sharing. Really makes me want to go and book a trip though.So happy to have you home and I look forward to hearing more about the trip.
Bet it feels like a dream you had by now.Reality hurts !
Catch ya soon
Prawnie XXX

viv said...

sounds like you had a great trip kelsey, thanks so much for sharing your story!


love your holiday photos Kelsey...the Panama canal is amazing....they can keep the ants though LOL

Jen Crossley said...

The Panamara canal looks amazing,I still amazes me how it works

quirkyartist said...

Costa Rica! Another place I want to go. Did you stay on deck throughout the day of going through the canal? - or did you have a Panama P-up like we did. not on our first time though.