Cruising Panama Canal
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The construction of the Panama Canal is one of those epic tales from the past, an old-school feat of engineering, ambition and courage. A cruise along it today is a journey through the centuries, from the Spanish fortifications near Limón Bay to the glittering skyline of Panama City, not to mention the canal itself. Over the course of a decade a little more than a century ago, tens of thousands of workers drilled dynamite holes, drove belching steam shovels and labored with pickaxes, all the while fighting off malaria. While the French builders of the Suez Canal ultimately gave up in Panama, American crews persevered and created a route allowing ships to travel across a continent. As David McCullough recounts in his sweeping history The Path Between the Seas, it was a combination of sheer human might and engineering prowess. In 2016 an expansion more than doubled the canal's capacity, ensuring it will continue to be central to the world's maritime traffic.While many think of the Panama Canal only as a remarkable manmade achievement, the area is also of interest to naturalists. Panama’s rain forest suffered great biodiversity loss during the canal's construction, but today more than 100 species each of mammals and reptiles, as well as some 500 different birds, thrive in the nature reserves along the length of the canal.