We spent our last day exploring Panama City. Our first stop was the Panama Canal where we toured the 4 story museum of the canal's history and information. We learned that the canal was built in 1914 at a cost of $375 million. The canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is made up of locks that use water (300 million liters) to lift the ships and tug boats help move the ships through- this process takes between 8-10 hours per vessel. We were able to watch several vessels pass through from the deck of the museum.
We then went to the Old Quarter, had lunch at a small café and haggled our way through some last minute souvenirs and gifts. We were excited to see several different Mola for sale made by the women in Akua Yala. When we were finished we headed back to the hotel around 4:00 to catch some much needed sleep before we left for our 3 a.m. flight (ugh) and would spend the next 12 hours in airports and airplanes.
I wanted to finish my blog post by summing up the trip but I soon realized that no amount of words could describe exactly how amazing and life changing this trip was. We learned a lot about the culture and issues that the rural communities face and were able to use our talents and skills and education to help the people in the communities and brainstorm ways to solve some of the issues. We each met someone or saw something that truly moved us. We also owe a huge thank you to Jorge, Karina, the Chepo firefighters, and the leaders we met in each community. They are amazing people and great role models of Rotary's motto "Service Above Self".