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    A Canal Runs Through It

Unlike the previous countries we visited, Panama was to be a place of sojourn. We were on our own for the month of February, 2018, ostensibly to escape the Winter nasties. Where better; bright skies, highs between 88 and 93 degrees, no rain, beaches & ocean, and a stress-free life style? Ok, not so much on that last item. Driving was very stressful. Also, we did have several other objectives: traverse the canal, see Old Town Panama, and enjoy a weeks visit from Bret & family. Accomplishing all of that made for a very successful trip! The bridge in the picture above is at the Continental Divide.

Panama City

Being one of the top money laundering places in the world is reflected in Panama City’s spectacular skyline. Starting in 2006, 50 skyscrapers have been built or are in construction, 15,000 hotel rooms added, along with many condos. Most remain unoccupied! The impact of money laundering, as we soon found out, extended to other areas of the country.

What is real is Casco Viejo also known as Old Town. Around since 1673 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth visiting. Which we did.

Money Laundering

We stayed in Malibu, a development that owes it’s existence to money laundering. Less then two hours from Panama City it lies off of a beach on which three separate gated enclaves overlook. Expats and wealthy Panamanians constitute their less then 50% occupancies. With only the random light on, nighttime transposes them into ghostly caricatures of what could have been.

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About a mile off the Pan-American highway, along a narrow, shoulder-less, treelined, and potholed road lies Malibu. A development with a lovely, scenic location, a well designed lay-out, close proximity to the ocean, and no money.

When external investments (read drug money laundering) dried-up, much development ended at what ever phase it was in. Malibu was at about twenty-five percent completion. Homes that are lived-in tend to be occupied only on the weekend or on holidays. It was very quiet at night. Part of the land is now used by neighbors to graze their horses. We found the experience to be both romantic and scary!

[Click Here To Visit Malibu]

Beach Time

Thanks to Bret, Yuri, and Myla, Grandenise & Grandpa finally got down to the beach to play in the sand and do a little surfing. It has taken a while for our sunburnt bodies to recover but it was worth it.

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The day after Bret & family arrived we traveled to Gamboa Rainforest Resort, located in one of the permanent Canal Zone townships built to house employees of the Panama Canal and their dependents. It is next to Soberania National Park and the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve. It was our jumping off point to traverse the Canal, but it also offered some other very interesting activities, to wit:
o Aerial Tram ride to top of rainforest and hike to Observation Tower
o Exploration of Gatun Lake aboard a speed boat
o Tour of the Butterfly House
o Visit the rescued animal shelter
o Walk the Orchid gardens

The Canal