I got this cool Panama postcard from Virginia! The sender has travelled to a number of Central American countries, which don’t always get a lot of spotlight in the Postcrossing world, so I now have the fortune of having cards obtained from there shared with me! Panama – officially the Republic of Panama – is the southernmost country of Central America (so it’s still part of North America), and is known for its tropical climate, oodles of beaches, great coffee, insanely diverse flora and fauna (particularly birds for the latter), and its main attraction depicted here, the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is a waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, bisecting the country right next to Panama City, the capital. Construction for this canal started by the French in 1881, then transferred to the US in 1904 and completed in 1914, with the help of tens of thousands of workers, hundreds of millions of US dollars, and over 10 million kgs of explosives. That’s a lot of blowin’ up to do! Thanks to the canal, ships can pass through to the other ocean much more quickly. All vessels have to pay a toll, usually based on the weight of their cargo. So far the record high is 376,000 USD by a cruise ship known as the “Norwegian Pearl”. They say “weight broke the wagon” – guess it also broke the bank! An interesting feature of the canal is its system of locks to allow ships to pass through. The manipulation of the locks along the canals causes water to fill or drain with respect to normal sea level. They’re necessary because the canal does not go through flat terrain – it’s so hilly that without the locks, the oceans would remain separate. It’d require 26+ meters of cutting through the ground otherwise. And as much as blowin’ stuff up is fun (trust me, I’ve done it), that’s a criminally brutal undertaking. Thank you so much for this awesome postcard, John!