On my trip home from Brazil, I had a lengthy layover in Panama, made enjoyable by two fun and smart young people who took me to the canal (awesome) and to lunch at a Panamanian fusion restaurant. Tasty — I’d never had fried plantain before.
I was struck by Panama City’s skyline — it’s experiencing a building boom, and many of the towers are strikingly slim. The explanation I received was that Panama does not experience hurricanes or earthquakes, so the engineers and architects have more high-and-slender options.
The Panama Canal is undergoing a major expansion project, to be completed by 2014, enabling this generation’s much larger vessels passage. A fascinating large-scale engineering project. The economic numbers are also large-scale: on average, each ship going through the canal pays $200,000 to do so, but that is much less than the average $1,000,000 cost of going around the tip of South America.
My thanks to Surse Pierpoint, Javier Yap Endara, and Cristina De Roux of the Fundación Libertad for a pleasurable experience.