OK, so you can’t come to Panama without visiting the canal. It took ten years to build, and I was hoping they took their time and got it right because I am terrified of water. Somehow the group convinced me to take a ride on this huge cruise ship so we could see how the canal worked. I’d never been on a boat in my life, yet I let seven other people talk me into getting on a ship. I’m such a sucker, because they bribed me with the meal of my choice afterwards.
So, the canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s a set of artificial lakes that are closed off and reopened when the ships come through. The ship enters what’s called a lock and then the reservoir fills with water, lifting the ship up to the next level, like an escalator. Then the ship floats farther down and goes through the same process a few more times. At the last lock the ship is dropped back down to sea level. But here’s the catch the canal is super narrow, so the ship’s captain has to get it right the first time or he or she will slam into the walls of the waterway. The crew members said there are about thirty accidents a year through the canal.
After knowing all this, I was on a ship that had to go through the whole process. I was good until we got to the first lock. I freaked out a little bit when the water started rushing into the lock, but I couldn’t really feel the rise of the ship as we went up. I’ve felt worse movement on a rollercoaster. After that first lock, I was good until we got to the last lock. . I thought we were going to go up again, when all of a sudden we dropped down. Please don’t laugh, but I passed out. When I woke up, I was back in my room and there was a medic holding smelling salts under my nose and someone else was fanning me. Talk about embarrassing! So that was my first and will be my last tour of the Panama Canal.
I must admit, the canal is an easy way to get around, although it’s not a fast process at all. It took about a day to complete the process. We were lucky to have had good weather so we could pass through without problems. They said over thirty ships can pass through the Panama Canal on a good day. If there’s bad weather or an accident, then only a handful of ships can pass. And don’t believe it’s cheap to pass through the canal. Some ships have to pay as much as $150,000 to pass through. But once, a swimmer passed through the canal. They charged him 36 cents!