Sia at the Panama Canal
Traveling with a baby bears as many gifts as it does challenges, not the least of which is the instant party when we go places. Especially if it's Central America at one of the greatest undertakings of mankind, the Panama Canal.
"Uyyyy, muy linda!" Sia would flash her square-shaped smile and melt hearts from around the world. Forget the 50,000-ton ship being elevated 85 feet into a holding chamber funneling 26 million gallons of water- it was a BABY!
We were at Milaflores locks, the closet platform to Panama city, but on the way to see the $5 plus billion expansion at Gatún locks closer to the Caribbean coast. A fossil of the earliest North American monkey was discovered in the new excavation. The canal, a 48-mile stretch of concrete through some of the densest forest in the world, was spectacular. It changed engineering at the time, put 45,000 people to rest during its constructing, commands up to a $100,000 per ship to pass. The scope is really not possible until you see it with your own eyes.
Which I was excited to do.
But because of a baby's universal celebrity status, I ended up hosting a meet & greet on the platform instead. Sia in a family portrait with a group of Brazilian retirees from São Paolo. Sia with a South Korean tour group. Sia getting thrown up in the air by a voluptuous Colombian woman. It went on and on.
I didn't have the heart to trade places with Michael, who was transfixed on the giant Dutch shipping containers and battling with a German group for the best view. If I craned- if I really craned- I caught a glimpse of it, too. But it was ok, I was a mom and Sia had discovered an Ecuadoran man's shiny shoes.
Why does everyone go ballistic over a baby? Is it because they're nonjudgmental, a vision of purity? Is it because they're kind of like puppies? Or she looks like a character in The Dark Crystal? I couldn’t tell if this was normal or not, but I came to my own conclusion about it: THE WORLD- especially Latin America- LOVES BABIES.
I wonder what Japan will be like... :)
TIP: Driving the length of the Panama Canal is a good day trip. Stopping through both Milaflores and Gatún Locks, where the expansion is set to open this summer. North to the province of Colón on the Caribbean side, there's a UNESCO-preserved Spanish fort, Fort San Lorenzo, worth checking out if anything for the views, if you like me are not a "fort person."