Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre
Breakfast this morning is in the hotel’s Plantation Café. It is our last early morning start today, promise!
We are on board our coaches at 8.15am to drive to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre. The centre opens at 9am and it tends to get very busy. When we arrive at the entrance to the access road we are first in the queue. Our buses drop us directly outside the visitor centre. We recommend everyone heads to the 4th floor viewing platform first. There are some enormous ships proceeding through the locks and it is interesting to see it all happening from a new perspective. There are two channels and in both, the ships are heading one-way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Closest to us is a container ship. It pretty much fills the lock, there are over 600 containers on board and it is not even half loaded. In the other lock is a bulk grain carrier, again filling the lock from end-to-end and side-to-side. Each lock is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide. After seeing the container ship through, a car transporter is next in line. It is huge, apparently carrying 7800 cars. It has sailed from Taiwan, so possibly contains Nissan cars?
The visitor centre also shows a 3D film about the canal. Everyone dons 3D glasses. According to Dawn, some of us look cool and some of us don't. There is also an interesting exhibition on three floors, so plenty to see.
From the Miraflores Locks we take an interesting drive through the administration area, once occupied by the US military. We see schools and playing fields, office buildings and many of the original houses, and some prime forest. It looks a fairly prosperous area.
We cross the Bridge of the Americas once more, but this time we stop at a monument erected by the local Chinese community to acknowledge the many Chinese workers who helped to build the Panama Canal. The views of the bridge and canal from here are tremendous.