1 This is Daphne Semet and her wonderful guide, Ivan Vargas, at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center. From the center, there's a great view of the locks in operation and also plenty of history of the Panama Canal.
2 This is a view of a ship entering the lock from the 4th floor of the Miralflores Locks Visitor Center. The Panama Canal has three sets of Locks, two situated near the Pacific coast (Miraflores & Pedro Miguel), and the third along the Atlantic (Gatun).
3 The Panama Canal is constantly maintained, giving a clear passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This is a bucket dredge working to maintain the depth of the canal.
4 Cruise ship transit the Canal. Here is the Silver Spirit going through the Continental Divide under the Bridge of the Americas.
5 The average toll through the Panama Canal is around US$54,000. A Panama Canal Pilot is required to be on board all ships in the canal. Large vessels are pulled through the locks by locomotives. The locomotives work together to maintain ship position within the width of the locks, as there are sometimes only inches to spare on each side.
6 Here's a shot of a locomotive pulling a ship. The Canal measures 48-miles (77.1 kms) long. Completed in 1914, the Panama Canal is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
7 Small boats also travel through the Canal. This Canal is an important route, as it enables ships to avoid the lengthy Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America.
8 This is downtown Panama City as seen from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There are massive condominiums and office structures and also a new subway line.
9 This is the Revolution Tower, one of the new office buildings in Panama City. This corkscrew design is a banking and trade center for Latin America.
10 We visited the Golden Altar of the Church of San Jose in the old part of Panama City, Casco Viejo. When English pirate Henry Morgan attacked the city, the jesuits painted the altar black to hide the gold. The pirates left it alone, thinking it was worthless.
11 Casco Viejo is undergoing a massive improvement and renovation project, this is one of the buildings under renovation
12 A finished renovated building in Casco Viejo
13 The pool at the Gamboa Resort in the rain forest - The former Panama Canal Zone is now an ecological reserve.
14 The Gamboa Resort has a rain forest canopy tour where one can see monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds.
15 At the top of the canopy tour, there is an observation tower about 90 feet tall. The ramp around the tower is an easy climb for all fitness levels.
16 There is a spectacular view of the Chagres River from the Gamboa observation tower. The Chagres river supplies the water used for the Panama Canal.
17 There is a beautiful butterfly exhibit at the Gamboa Resort.
18 Daphne at the Orchid Nursery
19 A Friday night reception was given by the mother of the bride's family.
20 This is the wedding reception area before the 1200 guests arrived.
21 It was a very pretty setup with white tulips on the tables.
22 At the reception, men and women danced separately.
23 Victor Semet, age 21, enjoyed a cocktail - the drinking age in Panama is 18.
24 The Bride, Vivian DeCastro, in a Carolina Herrara dress
25 The Chupa, wedding canopy, made of green roses and amaranthus. Men sat on the right and women sat on the left.
26 The wedding of Vivian DeCastro and Ilan Levy - There is a large Jewish Community in Panama. Many families can trace their lineage to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition.
27 This is a basket by Ernestina Valencia Emberra and Wounaan native tribes. They make baskets using natural fibers found in the forest. The design is based on a Bird of Paradise flower and took more than 5 months to create. It was purchased at the Centro Artensal Amador.
28 Another basket from native Panamanian Tribes owned by David DeCastro
29 Another Basket collect by David DeCastro