Saturday, March 11, 2023

February 19, 2023 – Fuerte Amador, Panama – Sunny – 84F

Looks like a beautiful day though the Porthole Cam.  I was up early so I caught the pre-dawn sky as well as the sunrise. Onward is positioned perfectly for sunrise viewing. 

We had room service today because we are on an early tour (8:15 AM Meeting time) – “Lake Gatun Eco Cruise”.  The food came right on time but mine was not too warm.  I had a waffle with cottage cheese and preserves and scrambled eggs.  The food was OK and as we headed to the Cabaret Theater, I noticed that the ship had not yet docked, and it was past the scheduled time of arrival of 8 AM. 

We had some time, so I took some pictures of Panama Bay and Panama City

and an iconic shot of Ellen on the railing.  

One nice shot captured the entrance to the Canal and the Bridge of the Americas in the distance.

And a very rare picture of the two of us on the deck.

We got our stickers and were told to come back in 45 minutes because of the late arrival.  We came back later, and the place was packed – everyone must be going off today.  It didn’t seem that safe virology-wise so we waited in the Den until we saw groups start to leave.  We are in Group 10, and we merged into the flow.  We scanned out and then were directed to a tent where Panamanian Immigration was set up for a “face to face” with each passenger.  We got our passports stamped and then got into the line to board our bus.

In the end we were underway around 10 AM or an hour late.  When we did this tour the last time, we tendered while on Gatun Lake to the Gamboa Yacht club where we got onto boats for the Eco Tour and when the tour was over, we met our ship, Celebrity Infinity (believe) in Colon. Watching the ship come in from the pier was fantastic. 

This time out, the bus took the highway to Gamboa, passing little towns and housing areas along the way.  I got a nice view of the Fuerte Amador Malecon from the bus.

The area is not really run down but it could use some sprucing up.  Our guide, Cesar, did a good job of explaining the area and the workings of the Panama Canal.  The ride to Gamboa took almost an hour but the bus was comfortable and air conditioned.  At Gamboa, we hopped on small boats for the tour.  

For me, getting on the boat was difficult because the drop between the pier and the floor of the boat was pretty large.  I eventually got in and in one piece.

Being in Gamboa, I got a perfect picture of Herman the German.

We went at top speed and maximum spray (I was on the end, so I got a nice Gatun shower)

About 7 km away our guide and the other guides and boats knew there were animals. 

We saw some interesting things on our way.  The first was a freighter running completely on LNG,

and a tugboat shooting water into the air (they usually do this as a salute to ships - maybe that was for our little speedboat.

We got a great view of Gatun Lake at ground level - it's very quiet on the lake.

The animals also know we are coming because they answer to whistles and the presence of food. We saw Howler Monkeys (let's say monkey)

and a not very shy White-Faced Capuchin monkey.  The second picture is unique because the guy's cellphone also got a picture of the money - picture in picture.

We also saw a Cayman (no pic) and an Egret.

We also saw some black spots on tree, and we were told they were proboscis bats.   

We spent a lot of time looking for a sloth and I never saw the one being pointed out.  There were no mosquitoes and the temperature on the lake was pleasant.  Activity on the Canal seemed slow today – we only saw three ships during our tour.  After about an hour or so, we headed back to the boat pier in Gamboa and then on to our busses for the ride back to Fuerte Amador.  One interesting diversion was when the bus went over the Centennial Bridge, and I got a fleeting glimpse of the Culebra Cut.  

You couldn't shoot while on the bridge because there is suicide netting which messes up any picture taking. Another nice photo op came when we passed the back of the Pedro Miguel Locks.

We were pretty tired when we got back – the seats on the boat were not padded and the seats on the bus were tight.  It was very interesting to see the typical Panama Canal sites at water level.  

We had a small late lunch in Windows – tuna and a Cesar salad.

We decided to pass on “Azamazing Nights” because we just couldn’t see another two hours on a bus (for the record the event was to take place in Old Panama at the main building and remains of the Cathedral and was to include a folkloric show).  We will stay here and enjoy dinner in an empty Discoveries Restaurant. We got the table for two (“the Honeymoon Table”) at the very back of the restaurant.  I had the green salad with Ranch dressing and the Fish and Chips (a treat) – the restaurant had a new menu at 7:30 PM for those not going off (those who did had a buffet in the restaurant) – the Fish came wrapped in some kind of paper (for authenticity) along with some fries.  It was good.  We had coffee and tea in the Mosaic Café along with some chocolates and macarons. 

It was late by the time we were finished so we went to the room.

The ship isn’t leaving until 2 AM in the morning. 

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