Why I Didn’t See the Panama Canal

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Day 112: Panama City, Panama

I didn’t really know much about Panama before I arrived.

It seems to fall under the radar and the only references I knew were the Panama Hat (which is actually from Ecuador) and the Panama Canal.

While planning this trip I watched the Amateur Traveler Video podcast of the Panama Canal and while I’m a huge fan of this podcast even Chris Christensen couldn’t excite me.

I watched as he took a boat ride through the canal. It looked dead boring.

Panama Food

Yet with only a few days in Panama City it was on my list of things to do.

I kept procrastinating and scheduling it for the last day and finally I realized I was only going so I could say I went.

Finally with one day left I decided I wasn’t going to do it. I just didn’t want to go.

And so I went somewhere I found interesting – the local markets.

First a meat market where the butchers were so friendly they encouraged me to take photos of each other and then a fish market where the fish mongers proudly held up fish for photos.

Panama ceviche in a cup with a spoon.

The highlight of the day was getting ceviche and shrimp cocktail from the market, sitting outside and talking to the juice man.

The ceviche seemed to have coconut milk in it and tasted similar to Filipino kinilaw. I wish I had asked for the recipe.

I still don’t have an idea what exotic fruit juice we were drinking (panello?) but it was a great day.

Join the Conversation

  1. Christine says:

    Totally support this decision! If it’s something that doesn’t interest you, why waste your time? And ceviche sounds amaaaazing. Jealous!

  2. Cornelius Aesop says:

    Yay you! I’m sure you enjoyed the market more than you would have the canal. Seeing something just to claim you seen it makes no sense unless someone is paying you to write about it. Otherwise this is your journey, your experience – so do what you want to do because surely I would have done the same.

  3. I agree that the canal seems boring. I mean…it’s just another body of water to me. I’d probably go if I was in Panama but it would just be to say that I went.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, can’t wait for the next entry.

  4. I haven’t been to the Empire State building in NYC, Buckingham Palace in London, Sydney Opera House in Sydney, The Sears Tower in Chicago or The Stratosphere in Vegas – but I sure have ate and drank my through all of those places!

  5. I think that’s a perfectly valid decision, Ayngelina. I don’t think anyone should go see something they don’t want to see just because everyone else does.

  6. I agree! Why go if you don’t want to?? In Syria, the major site to see is the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra.

    After spending nearly every day since Turkey visiting roman ruins, we just couldn’t be bothered going four hours out of our way to see it. Other travellers in the region thought we were crazy – but I don’t regret it. In fact, this is the first time I’ve thought about it since!

  7. Claire (Travel Funny Travel Light) says:

    You didn’t miss much at all. it IS boring! the fish market is much more exciting. good decision 😉

  8. Lol, when I finally get to Panama I won’t be visiting the PC either. I have absolutely no interest in it. The markets sound soooo much more interesting!!!

  9. Panama is the please to visit, do it now!!!

  10. Keep doing what you feel. You are the only person you’ll have to reckon with when the trip is over.

  11. Canal .. or ceviche? Easy decision and you made the right one!

  12. Ayngelina,
    I understand your reasons, but I bet you would have gone if you’d read David McCullough’s outstanding book “The Path Between The Seas” It is an amazing, interesting and well-written history of the canal. The many sub-plots are amazing: Frenchman DeLessups’ (Suez builder) initial failure to build the canal, Gorgas discovers the cause of malaria, independence for Panama brokered in a Waldorf-Astoria hotel by a bunch of yanks, fight in US Congress over a postage stamp with a volcano on it (which shifted site from Nicaragua to Panama…etc., You’ll have to check it out.
    Having said all that, Ceviche does sound pretty good.

    1. darngooddigs says:

      I was thinking the very same thing, Jason. I was totally interested in the Canal (almost even obsessed) after I read McCullough’s book, and so when I finally saw the PC it was much more than just a body of water.

      That said, I’m totally a believer in traveling for the experience – not to check anything off your list. I think all of those 1000 places to visit before you die type books miss the point of traveling – or of life, for that matter.

  13. Michael Hodson says:

    I actually loved the Canal — just scientifically interesting to me. And going through on a freighter was a cool experience.

  14. Ayngelina Author says:


    Yep I knew they were made in Ecuador, more specifically in Cuenca where I am now 🙂

    The reason they are called Panama hats is because the worker who built the canal worked long, hot hours wore these hats. They were imported for their durability in hot weather and water resistance.

  15. The NVR Guys says:

    Your MessagePanama hats are actually made in Ecuador. But you probably know that.

  16. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    I think it’s hard to go wrong visiting any kind of market while traveling. I always find them so fascinating. Love your photos!

  17. Great decision made, take the path last traveled by 🙂

  18. When I was in Paris I never went to the Louvre. I went to the Musee D’Orsay instead. You only have so much time and cannot see everything.

  19. Cornelius Aesop says:

    Hey as long as you are happy with where your flinging, let everyone else care where it lands.

  20. Travelogged says:

    Now if you go back to Panama City, you have something to see! That’s how I always look at it — you can’t hit every landmark every time.

  21. I agree that you should fill your travel days with what interests you rather than what you “should” see. The fascinating part of the Panama Canal is going through the locks, which is best experienced onboard a ship.On my journey through the canal, I wasn’t prepared for the noise – gears grinding, whistles blowing – fascinating if you like engineering marvels.

  22. Hey, it’s great to do what you love to do. I’m going to be in Panama by next month, and can’t wait to see the fish market, eat the ceviche, but I also want to experience the canal! Getting submerged in the history and importance of it.

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