Davis Cook ’21 and Izzy Ortiz ’18 describe an exciting first day exploring the Gamboa Region and visiting the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal.
As we left the air-conditioned comfort of our hotel Ojos del Río, we immediately felt the humid climate of Panama. Our first activity of the day was venturing into the Gamboa Rainforest Discovery Center along with our trip leaders, Mr. Sakach and Ms. Valk, and our trip guides from the company Envoys, Natalia and Nathan. The trail of this center led us to three different destinations, each with a new perspective to offer.
Our first stop was an observation tower of a height of 32 meters. From this height, we were able to distinguish the difference between the ground level and the canopy level of the rain forest, and we also got some really good pictures with Alex’s disposable camera.
Next, we stopped at a lake, where we were able to hear some howler monkeys. It was calming to listen to the sounds of the rain forest, comforted by the thought that these howls were traveling from distance of 2 km away.
Finally, we stopped at a nature center, where we were able to see four different species of hummingbirds up close as they stopped to get a bite alongside us. They were an especially “super guay” hummingbird with a colorful crest that could be seen through a binocular. (Note that although they often came and went, they were able to spook Mr. Sakash on one occasion.)
After our long walk in the morning, we boarded our van and took a short siesta, only to wake up to the sight of the Miraflores lock of the Panama Canal, the last lock that allows vessels to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Here, we stopped for a while, exploring the museum that told us about the history of the canal, and we even got to see some ships use the lock system to access the Pacific Ocean. The commentator, Javier, kept emphasizing that the passing ship had paid $400,000 to access the canal.
We ended our first full day by taking a refreshing walk from the new side of the city to the older part, where we had a delicious meal (with really good hot sauce) after a whole day of exploring the rain forest and the Miraflores lock.
Tomorrow we’re off to the jungle, so keep reading the adventures of Deerfield’s 2018 Panama Trip!