After a great night with D on the pull-out couch bed, C in a pack-n-play, and Mom and Dad in *their own room*(!), we woke up to discover the incredible view from our suite. We had a large balcony overlooking the Pacific entrance to the canal. To the right was the "Bridge of the Americas," and to the left, we could look out to sea to watch the big ships queuing up for their canal transit. It was a foggy morning and visibility wasn't too great, but it was definitely enough to impress us.
After breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant
(included), we suited up to enjoy the hotel's playground and pool, even
though it was raining on and off. (It's a rainforest, after all.)
Unfortunately, shortly after we started exploring the play structure a
storm rolled in. At first, it seemed like the thunder was well off in
the distance, but soon we were seeing cloud-to-water strikes pretty
nearby, so we ditched the pool, packed the kids up inside, and got ready
to head over to the Miraflores Locks.
I think we were expecting a
much more "Disney-fied" attraction over at Miraflores. The access road
to the locks is the official, hard working access road, that winds
through the locks' hydroelectric station. There weren't too many people
there when we arrived in the rain, and this was amazing for being able
to see the place.
We headed straight outside to the observation
deck. There were many Panamax cargo ships transiting from Atlantic to
Pacific, hailing from all over the world. There was a guy narrating the
goings on in both Spanish and English. We got to see the ships get
into place in the lock, the water drain out, the lock doors open up, and
then the locomotives on rails pull the ships through. D liked the
locomotives very much, as he's really into trains - he called them
"chuggers." And what do they do? "They chug." Well, of course. We
watched three ships make the transit, and then we got some hot dogs and
empanadas at the snack bar and watched some more.
we went through the museum at the locks. It's a really
well-put-together display, going up four floors. Each floor has a
different theme: building the canal, canal and rainforest fish and
wildlife, the controls for both the locks and the ships, new
construction and new equipment. D was really engaged through the whole
thing. Then at the end we went up onto the "roofdeck" for another
perspective on the working locks and a lot of space to run around.
this point, we'd been there for a good long while, but we hadn't yet
viewed the 3D movie, so we decided to pass the time until the next
showing before leaving. We went back down to the lower observation deck
where it seemed quieter and there were chairs to sit on. About two
minutes after we got there, a very large school group from Colon arrived
and took over the seating area. Andrew got caught up in the middle of
them, and ended up sitting in the middle of the top rows, surrounded by
7-10 year old kids. The kids thought he was absolutely great. He got
tons of hugs and tickles and hair ruffles. The kids talked to him in
Spanish, and he was just soaking in all the attention.
her own smaller fan club of little Panamanian girls who wanted to hold
her, tickle her, etc. They spoke no English, and kept wanting to tell
me things, and I felt bad that I had to say, "I don't understand." One
girl noticed that C had a mark on her forehead where she had bumped it
earlier (the hazards of being a 16-month-old walker), and pulled a pot
of Vick's VapoRub out of her little purse. It was such a sweet gesture
that I let her put some on. The chaperones who did speak some English
told us how enthralled the school kids were with D and C. It was a
sweet experience, and I love that our kids are ambassadors.
went in to go see the movie, which was only 10 minutes long, so I
figured our kids could handle it. I hadn't factored that it was pretty
late and they'd had no nap. Needless to say, they didn't have much
patience for the movie, even though it was a super cool 3D presentation.
in all it was a fantastic day. We spent far longer there than I had
expected too, and the kids, especially D, really seemed to learn some
things and enjoy the spectacle.
We grabbed some dinner at the
TGI Friday's connected to the hotel. Not sexy, but easy, which is what
we needed at the time. After that, we put our suits back on and finally
got in a little bit of pool time after dark. The hotel had a shallow
wading pool that was really perfect for the kids to splash around in.