We had an early start to the morning as we headed out to the canal expansion site. There we met with Luis Ferrera, one of the engineers of the canal, who taught us all about the expansion project and its progress. The new locks will allow for boats to be 70 feet wider, 400 feet longer and will bypass Lake Miraflores. This means that in 2014, the canal will transport vessels carrying 12,000 containers as opposed to current vessels which are limited to 4,500 containers.
The new locks will use sliding gates as opposed to the hinged gates of the old locks that roll on wheels, sealing each level. There are two gates between each of three chambers that open in a parallel manner to allow the passage of vessels once the chambers have been filled or emptied. These gates were constructed in Italy and are over 30 meters tall.
Not only is the expansion a matter of technological advances, it also considers the rich natural environment of the canal through reforestation, wildlife protection, archaeological rescue, paleontological research, and water conservation. This led perfectly to our visit to the BioMuseo, a building designed by Frank Gehry.
There we learned about the plants and animals native to Panama and the Americas. Just 4 million years ago, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans formed one large ocean but seismic activity united North and South America, separating the oceans and creating new species of plants and animals.
After the museum, we walked 45 minutes down the causeway to a steakhouse where we ate with a former UVA graduate. All along the causeway and at dinner, we had a great view of Panama City.
After dinner, I think it is safe to speak for all of us when I say that we were all stuffed with all sorts of wonderful dishes. When we got back to the hotel, we did some work for our research papers before retiring to bed after a long and exhausting day!
Your Day Six Bloggers,
Shannan and Lauren