I arrived at the Tocumen Airport in Panama City and was transferred to my hotel for the next three nights, the Riu Hotel Plaza Panama. After checking in and dropping my luggage off, we headed to lunch at Miraflores Restaurant and visited Miraflores Visitor Center. The Panama Canal is a lock-type canal, approximately 50 miles long, that unites the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at one of the narrowest points of the Isthmus of Panama and the American Continent. The Canal officially opened its doors to international trade in 1914, and since then, more than 1 million vessels have traveled the waterway. The Canal’s three locks, each of which have two lanes, operate as water lifts to elevate ships 85 feet above sea level to the level of Lake Gatun during their transit through the Canal, and then lower them back to sea level. A project to widen and deepen the Canal is currently underway. The new locks will be 1,400 feet long and 182 feet wide, the size of four football fields. About 10,000 people work for the Panama Canal Authority, and ships pay anywhere from $50,000-$300,000+ to pass through the Canal.
That evening we were excited to attend an outdoor Shakira concert at the Figali Convention Center. I was escorted to the front, next to the stage as credentialed media were allowed to stand at the stage for the first three songs. Shakira unexpectedly started the concert from the crowd as she walked around the stage on the ground right in front of us. I have seen her perform on television, which is very different versus standing under her as she gyrates those hips with moves that could turn a gay guy straight. She is amazing, talented, beautiful and super flexible (at least in the hip area). The Figali Center is home to regular concerts featuring acts such as Journey, Ozzy Osbourne and Andrea Bocelli.