Spending the day at the Panama Canal

Thursday, November 16, 2017
Panama City, Panama, Panama
At 9 am Jose and Manuel Figueroa came by our Lacresta Inn hotel and off to the Panama Canal!  
I’ve been trying to get through to Bev at home and to others, but to no avail.   Just coincidences that they’re not there when I call.  I’m not sure if email is getting through and today is eNews day and I want to get things done just so  But, about 10 minutes till 9 I finally got through to Bev on WhatsApp with what started as a clear connection that quickly deteriorated.  Vivien and Cathy Botha are still at our home and said a word or two them as well.
It was only a 15-minute ride to the Panama Canal, to the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side.  Leaving these locks takes you to Lake Gatun and up through the Culebra Cut. This place has such a rich history.  The Canal opened in 1914, not many months before the start of World War I.  The plan to build it started in 1870 with the French starting the project and abandoning it. The chief engineer was DeLesseps who successfully built the Suez Canal.  But, that canal had no locks and was straight in the desert.  Not here.  Elevation changes had to be negotiated through locks.  The canal was built through a jungle.  25,000 died of malaria, yellow fever and other diseases.   It was a tough job.  The Americans took on the project and finished the canal finally in 1914 and established an administration in American Territory called the Canal Zone. 
When I was in junior high school many years ago I wrote an extended class report about the Panama Canal and all the names here, the locks, the ships all came to life for me today.  It was so exciting to see all this and see a big ship pass through the locks.  Last year in June 2016 they built a new bigger set of locks to take ships three times the size of current ships.  By the way, one million ships have passed through the canal since its opening. Toll for passage is $300,000 - $400,000 for a “regular” size vessel through the original locks.  Up to $800,000 to one million dollars for a large ship with hazardous cargo through the new locks.   We saw ships of both locks go through Miraflores.  When a ship enters the Panama Canal a local captain takes over the vessel and guides it through the locks.
The visitor museum at Miraflores was also very instructional. We also visited the Panama Canal Administration Building 

November is a patriotic month.  On November 3, 1903 Panama declared independence from Colombia.  On November 28 is independence from the Spanish in 1821.  People where festive clothing through the month.  It’s nice to see.
I have the Figueroa family figured out.  It’s been so good to be with them. Their extended family is in the United Church of God.  The father Jose picked us up at the airport with their eldest son Jose Pablo Figueroa.  Manuel Figueroa is the youngest son and the one who was at ABC in the class of 2016.  A wonderful warm family that took the time to be with us through the day before taking us to the airport for our flight to Manaus. 
I admire this family, that has an extended family meet on the Sabbath and be connected by Webcast to services in Guatemala.  They go to Guatemala for the Feast of Tabernacles and Israel Robledo is their pastor.  I admire people of such great devotion and faithfulness being in scattered areas and being positive about their faith.  
Jose and Manuel took us to the airport.  Manuel gave me a gift to give to a person at the home office. 

We drove to the airport through the city center of Panama City.  It is a big city....lots of high rise apartments.  Big big buildings with an impressive skyline. One famous one is the Trump Tower that looks like a boat standing up on end.  
At the airport, we waited for our flight to Manaus, which is in the Amazon and south of the equator.  It rained hard in the afternoon at the airport.  Our flight was delayed one hour, but we finally got off the ground on a small Embraer craft that was very tightly and fully jammed with passengers for the three hour 10 minute flight into the jungle.  not the final destination. This is the most complex series of flights to get to a destination to see anyone.  Lusaka and Lilongwe are easy!  
I’m trying to fight a cold.  Jorge anointed me and we prayed.  I have really appreciated getting to know Jorge de Campos.  A Christian in deed and word!



Thanks for the details on the canal. Praying for great health for you both.