Porto Bello Historical & Isla Grande

Today the GLCM group was up early to visit the new modern locks in Colón, Panama. Colón is located north of Panama City. This area is now the world’s second largest duty-free port. The locks we visited were in the region of Agua Clara, which means “clear water”. In addition, we were able to see a few capybaras in the forest before entering the parking area to see the locks. Capybaras are the largest living rodent in the world and cannot be found in the United States.

The new locks are on the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama. The name of the ship we saw was named the Golar Maria. The Golar Maria was estimated to be around 800 to 900 feet by observation. After researching online, the ship’s length is 285 meters, or 935 feet. We witnessed the complete process of the ship making its departure. We observed the water level rise while the boat was tied in several locations to stay in place. Next, two gates opened up, and the boat carefully pulled through with two tugboats. The main difference between the new locks and the old locks is that the boats on the old locks are guided by several electric locomotives, while the boats at the new locks are guided with two tugboats.

Next, we drove to La Guairá which was a four and a half hour drive. At La Guairá, we got on a boat which held 12 people. The jet powered boat took us to Isla Grande in about 15 minutes. On the boat ride there we passed the Black Christ of Portobelo, which is a statue located in the middle of the water near Isla Grande.

The island was a culturally rich experience. We were greeted with a delicious meal. The options were chicken, octopus, or fish paired with a side such as rice, patacones or fries. The bathrooms at the island were quite interesting. On one side of the building, it was just chain link fence. We had a great time at the pool and beach and then headed back to La Guairá. When we arrived at La Guairá, we saw several native people dancing and having a great time. From there, the GLCM group boarded the bus. The GLCM group arrived at a McDonald’s in Sabanitas, Panama. The group was so hungry, and everyone devoured their McDonald’s on the bus ride home. After about an hour, the GLCM group arrived at the Torres de Alba Hotel for a good night’s rest. 

Blog by Alfredo Guzman