We are currently at 6°40’51.77″N 81°10’45.33″W, about 150 nautical miles west of Panama, en route to Auckland, New Zealand.
After getting through the Gatun Locks very early on Friday morning, and then anchoring just beyond them, we resumed the transit again after noon, making our way through Gatun Lake. We chilled in our cabin for a while when it started raining, but later went up to the bridge to see the Gaillard Cut and the Centennial Bridge. We stayed there until we made it through the Pedro Miguel Locks around 5:30—a very slow process that took well over an hour. We got through the second of the Miraflores Locks by 7:30, our last hurdle on the way to the Port of Balboa. All told, it took about 16 hours to get through the Panama Canal.
At 9pm we got a call that our shore leave passes were approved—until midnight. So we got off the ship (for the first time since Savannah). It was just the two of us, walking through the middle of this giant port in the dark, trying to find our way to the gate. Stephanie said it made her feel like an ant that could be squished at any moment. A shuttle happened by, and we asked them to take us to the gate for a taxi. With some instructions from the crew on how much to pay, we agreed on $20 to take us to a restaurant on the “causeway” (essentially Flamingo Island) and then bring us back to the ship at 11.
He took us to a restaurant called Bucanero’s. We weren’t that hungry (we’ve been well-fed on the ship), so we ordered margaritas and some appetizers: ceviche, baked cheese with almonds, and little plantain pizza bites. The cheese was our favorite. It was a little strange to be back on land, and stranger yet to be in a country where neither of us speak the language (though Stephanie knows a little Spanish), but we did just fine. We made it back to the ship by 11:30 and immediately fell asleep.
Update: Eric Rewitzer used my photo above as the basis for a painting entitled Panama.