A man, a plan, a canal — Panama

“I love Panama!” exclaimed my cab driver.
“What do you love about Panama?” I asked.
“Like what?”
“Um…” he thought for a while. “Like our resources!”
I had a day’s layover in Panama City, so I hired a cab to take me around. I’ve heard many patriotic pitches from cab drivers in my life, but I never met one praising a country’s resources until this one.

So what are Panama’s resources? Forestry? Mining? It may be a beloved retirement destination for North Americans today, but the greatest asset Panama has is its canal. For the past 99 years, the famed channel connecting the Caribbean to the Pacific has driven this country’s economy and tourism.

And why not? It’s a sight to behold. At the Miraflores Locks, live announcers take the microphone and describe the slow spectacle in front of us like it’s a white-knuckle boxing match. “And now thousands of gallons of water will empty into the Pacific, ladies and gentlemen…”

I spent a good deal of time watching the giant cargo ships slowly lower themselves to the Pacific. When I returned to my cab, the driver smiled with pride. “What do you think?” he asked.

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