Experimental Tropical Marine Ecology

A final goodbye
by -- October 13th, 2009

A tour through Panama City, a great dinner, and a thanks.


It is 6:30 AM on Saturday and we leave Bocas del Toro with heavy hearts; everyone is disappointed to reach the end of what has been a fantastic trip. From the windows of our puddle-jumper plane we watch forlornly as the tiny island shrinks into blue oblivion.

Upon reaching the city, we load our luggage onto a tour bus and set off toward the Panama Canal. Luckily for us, we arrive in time to watch two massive cargo ships rise through the Miraflores Locks and continue their journey to the Pacific Ocean. The canal design is truly amazing and none of us can believe that such a feat of engineering was completed way back in 1914!.

We visit Niko’s Cafe for a quick lunch and enormous cinnamon rolls (for 50 cents!), then drive to the Church of San Jose to see the Golden Altar.

Legend has it that in the 1670s the town received news that the infamous pirate Henry Morgan was on his way to raid the settlement. In order to save the massive gold artifact, the priest painted the altar entirely black, insisting that it was actually made of wood. Morgan was fooled- and the masterpiece remains in Panama City to this day.

Finally, exhausted, we enjoy one last meal with our professors at a Spanish Italian restaurant with an incredible view. Along the horizon, illuminated by forked tongues of blue lightning is a faint line of ships bound for the canal. As rain streaks in horizontal deluges across the water their dark shadows disappear like fish into the deep.


On behalf of the students, I’d like to thank Dr. Diaz (Humberto), Dr. Forward, and Zack Darnell for leading this opportunity of a lifetime. We could not have asked for a better travel trio. Again, thank you.


We pose at the top of la Catedral, a ruinous, vertical stone building with monstrous cavernous windows. In every direction is a distinct vista; one portal overlooks a lush green canopy, another- clusters of tiny homes like monopoly houses in the distance. To the west we are awed by a harsh line of city skyscrapers; high-up construction cranes brush willowy clouds like the tongs of forks. Finally, there is the sea. At low tide, a long, narrow bridge is dwarfed by miles of grooved sand that runs beneath it. Millions of white birds gather like an excited crowd to prey upon newly exposed mud-dwellers. Far, far off, lines of waves break along the coast; for us, the thundering crashes are indistinct static, a remote hiss, our last goodbye.

1 Comment

  1. Brenda Golden
    Oct 17, 2009

    Young lady, you should be a writer! What a gift for visual words! Keep it up.

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