trip report, Costa Rica/Panama

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Mar 13th, 2008, 08:02 AM
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trip report, Costa Rica/Panama

trip notes (2/21-3/2):

got back from CR/P this sunday; 11 days w/6 days at sea on le levant (a french boat 100 meters long with crew of 50 and we were 79 passengers with 2 tour directors and 4 naturalists)

the naturalists educated us about the flora and fauna and people indigenous to the area some of the natives (and i do mean natives) were true natives, living in grass huts wearing little clothes and living off the land and sea; plus, making little trinkets to sell to the white tourists (aah, capitalism)the women wore no clothes on top and the men wore a thong and a mighty little thong (so all genders of our group were happy)

spent 3 days in san jose CR amongst the wealthy Marriott's guests and traveled around locally; san jose looks like nogales, Mexico: barbed concertina wire everywhere, trash everywhere, poor excuses for cars coughing out pollutants when we asked out CR guide why all the bars on the windows and barbed wire he said it was due to all the illegals coming in from nicuragua and robbing the locals houses, etc; he said a lot of illegals come in from nicuragua because the local CRs refuse to do menial work (sound familiar);
and get this the CRs on average make around 4 grand a year

then off to the ship amongst the french crew and the Philippians workers; great food (better than we had in france); it got choppy a couple of times and you felt you were constantly drunk just walking around the boat or your cabin (then again maybe we were) did some snorkeling and discovered what i remembered when living along the beach in southern CA; i hate the taste of sea water...
the water temperature was great and the surroundings terrific but that sea water - yuck! eileen didn't mind it though

the juxtaposition of poverty and wealth was disturbing, to say the least - there is no middle class

then the canal:
it made the trip
what a feat of engineering - we highly recommend going to central america just to traverse the canal: 3 locks with 2/3 chambers each, raise and lower ships using fresh water from a large lake system and not hydraulics as one might expect;

the canal or 'cut' as the locals call it is about 50 miles long with a lock at the mouth of each ocean and one in the middle; so you go through a lock then travel a few miles then go through another then travel again and finally through the last one; we went east (pacific) to west (Caribbean/atlantic); it cost 13 grand for this 100 meter yacht to go through and another 20k to go through in the daylight; the big panamax freighters and large passengers ships have the priority (pay more money then small ones like ours); so for 33 grand we went through during the day;

spectacular! panamax means maximum panama size - and are designed and built just to be able to go through the canal; the alternative is another 3 week voyage around south america

a last night in panama city looking out at the ocean from our high rise hotel with balcony amongst all the other new condos/hotels going up; it looks like Waikiki beach in Hawaii; and yet the abject poverty sits just outside the front door looking towards the city and i mean poor; our poor are wealthy in comparison...and so it goes

i am glad i was born in the USA...

- i'm getting tired and need a nap

take care... and get out there

gary
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