Authors: Meghan and Avery
Although our time in Panama City is short we have learned a lot! The two main things we have done in Panama City were going to the Panama Canal and the Biomuseo.
The Panama Canal is very important to the boating industry because it is a short cut in Central America from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Basically it is like a staircase for boats. These are called 'locks'. A boat comes into the lock and a gate closes behind it. The gate weighs as much as 300 elephants! Fresh water from the nearby lake is used to slowly fill up the lock. It takes 8 minutes for each lock to get filled. The boat in the lock gets lifted up by the water. Another gate slowly opens and the boat goes through to the next lock. There are 6 locks in total, 3 on the Pacific side and 3 on the Atlantic. It takes 2 hours for the boat to cross the first 3 locks, the lake and the second set of locks.
Originally the canal was begun by the French. Later on they decided to stop because of engineering problems. Also, during the making of the Canal, a lot of workers died because there were tonnes of mosquitoes that carried deadly diseases like yellow fever and malaria. A Cuban doctor discovered that the reason people were dieing was because of the mosquitos that bred in the mud and still swamp water that collected as they dug out the canal. They solved this problem by replacing dirt roads with paving stones and they sprayed houses with insecticides.
Then the Panamanians signed a contract with the United States, who took over the building of the Canal. This work was underway in 1904. The workers came from many places but a lot came from the West Indies. I (Meghan) connected this to when Canada built the CPR and how Chinese workers risked their lives for little money.
The Panama Canal opened in 1914 and was controlled by the Americans. Panamanians wanted control and students raised a flag on American territory to show it was their country and they wanted more control. On December 31, 1999 Panamanians gained control of the canal. In 2016, the Panama Canal was expanded because they needed new locks for bigger boats.
Today we went to the Biomuseo which was a museum about living things in Panama. It was massive and very colourful. It looked a lot like origami. We discovered there are actually 3 Panamas: one in Central America, one in the United States and one in the Czech Republic. This Panama, the country we are now in, has the most biodiversity. Once we got inside, we learned about biodiversity.
We discovered that many birds from Canada migrate to Panama. Before people understood migration, their thoughts about what happened to birds during the winter were: birds moved away to a different country and never came back, they changed their appearance, they migrated and/or the birds travelled to the moon during the winter! Some birds travel very far. When a group of birds flew back, scientists found spears in some of the birds' throats and these spears were from African tribes. Then the scientists realized how far the birds travel.
Biodiversity is very important. Plants can be used for food, oxygen and medicines. For example, one of the plants we learned about helps to cure cancer. Animals help to pollinate flowers and can teach us a lot, like the poison dart frog who helped teach scientists about our nervous system. We can help our environment by preventing global warming, protecting our ozone layer, not over hunting and preserving forests.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).