The Aquatic Highway, Atlantic to Pacific

ABOARD THE CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM — Reflections on the waters of the Panama Canal (add it to your bucket list, please):
• The three pilots and crew that boarded the ship on the Atlantic entrance were changed for a Pacific crew about halfway across the country, at Gamboa. There was one exception. Celebrity lucked out in having Dezel Marshall as the Canal’s PR spokesman — his narration from Atlantic to Pacific was captivating.
• Because of the Canal, Panama City has grown into a financial center with 100 banks among the high rises.
• Before construction began, what is now the Canal was mountains and jungle. It’s still embraced by mountains and jungle.
• The Continental Divide is the narrowest part of the Canal.
• The Millennium was the largest ship to go through the Canal yesterday, paying a toll of about $200,000.
• Once a year, workers at the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks have a competition to see which of the three locks is best at throwing the line, rowing and pulling the rope. Why? For prizes and pride.
• The Smithsonian’s association with the Panama Canal predates its completion in 1914, and the Institute was given the six square miles that’s Barro Colorado Island, where a huge research center employs almost 400 people.
• A train tour across the Canal takes 55 minutes; by cruise ship it’s 12 hours, minimum.
• An eccentric named Richard Halliburton paid lock tolls of 36 cents to swim the canal, all 48 miles of it, in 1928.
• The Canal continues to be widened and dredged…those ever-bigger ships pay bigger tolls!
That’s it…we’re done.

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