|A cargo ship passing through the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal.|
Yesterday we took a taxi to the one of three sets of locks on the Panama Canal. The Miraflores Locks have a beautiful visitor's center, very family and kid friendly, and it was a great place to spend a hot afternoon. (Have I mentioned that it's hot in Panama?) Only about twenty minutes outside of Panama City, this is the first set of locks ships transit if they enter the canal from the Pacific. The more I see of the world, the more I realize how very little I know. I knew the Panama Canal joined the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and saved ships a long trip around the horn of South America, but that was about it. As we were watching a ship pass through the locks I joked with the kids that it would be so much more fun to be sitting in a classroom reading a book about it. I love days like this, when history comes to life, when science is hands on, and when learning takes place so naturally. In educating my kids I feel that I've gone back to school as well and I'm loving it! We learned so much yesterday and had a great time doing it.
|The second floor of the museum is dedicated to showcasing some of the flora and fauna of the canal zone. Large metal and glass sculptures represent the trees of the rainforest.|
|Raphael and Pearl were delighted to spot a turtle and an iguana in an enclosed animal habitat. There were also some aquariums showing different fish, as well as specimens of butterflies and insects. There are some really big bugs around here!|
|The world comes through Panama, and we feel very blessed to be here.|
|Here it looks like the kids are about to enter one of the huge culverts that run under the canal. Sensors and lights from above made it look like they were actually tramping along in the water.|
|We had to go through the locks in the "sim" a second time.|
|You can just see the back of the ship as it passed by, piled high with containers, while another enters the locks on the other side. It takes an average of 8-10 hours for a ship to transit the canal.|
You can take a virtual tour of the locks here and learn more about how they work here. There is also a great FAQ section here if you want to learn more! If you're ever in Panama, plan to spend a day exploring the visitor's center and watching the ships pass through. Admission for our family of six was less than twenty dollars and worth every penny.