” The Sea Rebel ” A Man A Plan
Whether you approach it from the left or the right, the Panama Canal is one of the man made wonders of the Earth. Soon it will be celebrating its 100th birthday. It officially opened on August 15, 1914, when the S.S. Ancon made the first official crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I would be making my third transit of the Canal (I crossed twice in 2011) on board the Pacific Princess on this trip. It is something that never gets old.
Before reaching the Panama Canal my ship would be stopping at its first port – Limon, Costa Rica. The distance from Port Everglades, Florida to Limon is 1,290 nautical miles. I’d been to Costa Rica three times before (twice in 2011 and once in 2012) but always on the Pacific side and I had never been to Limon. I did the Totuguero Canals Cruise and Banana Plantation Tour. It consisted of a leisurely pontoon boat ride through the rainforest. The area is rich with flora and fauna because of the heav y rainfall. In our case besides seeing many birds and small reptiles we also spotted a cayman. Following a tropical fruit buffet we traveled to a Del Monte Banana Plantation. While there is much to see and do in beautiful Costa Rica the idea of going to a banana plantation intrigued me. Banana Republic might not be the proper term nowadays but the history of Central America was tied to this plant. After witnessing the elaborate process of how the banana finally reaches your table – I can never look at the banana the same way again!
The distance from Limon, Costa Rica to the Panama Canal is just 187 nautical miles. The Panama Canal consists of three sets of enormous locks that raise ships above sea level and later lower them on the opposite side of the Panama Canal, thus connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. A transit of the Isthmus of Panama is 48 miles, with much of it taking place on the world famous Gatun Lake, which is 85 feet above sea level. The French under Ferdinand de Lesseps (builder of the Suez Canal) started digging the Canal in 1880, but the U.S. took over in 1904 and was successful largely because of their decision to go with a lock system. Today, over 13,000 ships a year transit the canal.
With Panama now crossed, the Pacific Princess headed to Guayaquil in South America, my next port of call.