Mom, Dad, and the Panama Canal railroad.

It feels weird to be posting during a pandemic. But, blogging is keeping me from going crazy while stuck inside. I hope everyone is staying healthy both physically and mentally during this crazy time.

We were extremely lucky that my parents were able to visit in early March and get back home to Georgia before things got really bad. They were here from March 1 – March 7 so the things we did in this post are from a few weeks ago. It seems so long ago. Just a few weeks ago the world was a very different place.

In my last post, I talked about seeing the Panama Canal from the Pacific side.

https://soundsgoodonpaper.com/panama-canal-miraflores-locks/

After seeing the Miraflores locks we went out to happy hour and dinner. Immediately several things became abundantly clear:

  1. You can’t actually swim in Panama City’s highest pool bar. The pool is just ornamental. But the views and drink specials at Panaviera make up for it.
Shoot I was going to get really drunk then dive in. What could go wrong?

2. Two for one happy hour drink special takes the sting out of not swimming in a pool on the 66th floor.

Drinking is more fun that swimming any day.

3. Everything tastes better when your table glows green.

Do I look like a Lepracon?

4. Personal coat racks at your restaurant table are an amazing invention.

Who needs to hang up their cooling tie?

5. But most importantly, we needed more canal! The Pacific side was nice and all, but we needed to see the Caribbean side too.

We can’t rest until we see the ENTIRE canal.
map from Wikipedia

We found a guide and scheduled a tour for the following day. The only catch, we would start super early in the morning.

Dad: I can’t wait to see more canal.
Sheryl: We have to leave the hotel at 6:00 am.
Mom: Wait, what?

Getting picked up before the sun rose was difficult.

Jeff: Whose idea was this?
Mom: Don’t look at me.
Dad: Not mine
Sheryl: I had three cups of coffee! I’m going to swim the canal!

Our guide Estaban picked us up at the hotel, and drove us to the Panama Railway station. The train was built in 1855 which was even before the canal . It was first used to take people across Panama from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Once the Americans took over building the canal they used it to move workers, equipment, and dirt across the isthmus.

Sheryl: This is the original train car.
Mom: I sure hope they updated the bathrooms since this was built in the 1800’s.
Dad: I hope they cleaned out the dirt.

At the station where we bought our tickets, I found this one bag of coffee on a lonely shelf all by itself.

I appreciate the marketing, but really? This coffee was grown 700 miles away, nowhere near the canal or the railroad.

The train only makes the trip once a day. It leaves Panama City at 7:15 am which is why we had to get there so early.

You couldn’t run this train a little later in the day?

The really cool car that was all windows was full. But the car we ended up in was still really nice and mostly empty.

We rule this train car!
Photo credit to my Tom Cutilletta (my dad)

We were still pretty tired even as the train got on its way.

If we smile Sheryl won’t notice that we’re sleeping..

The great thing about the train is that you have jungle on side , and the actual canal on the other.

This is nice and all, but it’s 7:25am I could go for some potato chips.

It was at this point in the train ride that even though I had snarfed down half a loaf of banana bread , I was hungry. Lucky for me, they passed out coffee and little snack boxes.

I knew I had a fever for the flavor of something.

Crackers, nuts,, raisins, a piece candy, and best of all Pringles! And it was all housed in a commemorative box with a really helpful map on the bottom. As soon as I saw the potato chips I knew what I had to do.

Train Attendant: I am going to pretend I don’t see that.
Mom: Oh, that was cute.
Dad: Are you sure she’s our kid?

After about an hour, the train pulled up to the station in the town of Colon.

Sheryl: There already? I didn’t even have time to take fifty selfies.
photo credit: Tom Cutilletta (my Dad)

It was a small station with many tour guides waiting to do tours. We looked through the crowd and found our guide, Estaban. While we were eating snacks on the train, he was driving to the other side of Panama to meet us at the station.

Hope you relaxed while I raced over to meet you.

From the train, Estaban drove us to the Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side of Panama. I’ll talk about them in my next post.

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