The agenda for today is the Amador Causeway! A little history on the causeway....it was little know until 2010 when American Lauren Wilson first visited with her Aunt Helen and Uncle Ray. After that historic event it was the "in" place to be around Panama! Most of those facts are true, but to give you the complete story the causeway was originally constructed in 1913 with rocks from the Culebra cut during the construction of the Panama Canal. The causeway links 4 islands which housed a US military complex, Fort Amador, built to protect the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. The armaments were later decommissioned after WWII without ever firing a shot and the causeway was turned over the Panama in 1996. Today the causeway is a tourist attraction with about 3.5 miles to bike or walk with restaurants and shops at each island along the way.
We grabbed at taxi from Casco Viejo to the start of the Amador Causeway where we found the only place to rent a couple of bikes. It is the beginning of the off season so the causeway was very quiet. We were the only bikers there and we saw very few other tourists exploring the area. Nonetheless the bike ride was absolutely beautiful and it was great to get a little bit of exercise while soaking up the sun and breathing the fresh ocean air. We rode the causeway for a couple of hours and covered every area that gates didn't block our access. We thought about stopping for lunch on one of the islands, but every restaurant we stopped by was either closed or had not so good food and a high price tag. Perhaps it was because we visited during the week at the beginning of the rainy season. Before heading back to Casco Viejo we decided to check out the Biomuseo (building with multicolored roof) which we are both really happy that we did.
Fun fact: did you know that gecko's do not use any type of suction on their feet in order to walk on the wall or ceiling? They actually have tiny microscopic hairs on their feet that cling to atoms on the molecular level!!!! How cool is that? I knew there was a reason that I picked Geico as my insurance company all these years.
The Biomuseo was an educational experience, perfect for two nerdy civil engineers. Side note: while writing this Lauren has spent the last hour googling exactly how the new expanded lock system works for the Panama Canal because she was so frustrated that the museum only had one plaque explaining it and it was all in Spanish, more on that to come in our next post.
The Biomuseo not only talked about the diversity of plant and animal species, but also the significance of the Isthmus of Panama and how it changed many parts of the globe when the two continents became connected. It was about 4 million years ago when the Isthmus of Panama finally connected North and South America, starting as just a chain of volcanic islands. A couple important changes came with this connection. First, the separation of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans altered the ocean currents which in turn changed the weather patterns of the east coast of the US, created the tropical climate of the Caribbean, and perhaps even dried out the West coast of Africa (they were not definitive on that one). Secondly, animals that had never encountered each other began crossing paths as they traveled north and south across the isthmus. The one we were the most in awe of was the giant land sloth which could grow as large as a mammoth! Fortunately for humans they were vegetarians. Unfortunately for them the saber tooth lion was not and the giant land sloth was one of the first to go extinct.
We also walked the grounds of the Biomuseo and saw some leaf cutter ants marching along and some gecko's bouncing around on a rubber tree. After the Biomuseo we headed back to our hostel in Casco Viejo and Chef Lauren whipped up a delicious vegetable curry for dinner. We thought our day was just about over, but little did we know it was just getting started.
While sitting in the common area of our hostel we were befriended by an audacious Canadian who is at the start of his second tour around the world. He would not take no for an answer when he asked us to go out for a beer and we are glad he persisted because he showed us some backpacker bars in Casco Viejo that we would have not likely found on our own. He also recruited a woman from the Netherlands to join us when she was just on her way out of her hostel for a bite after just arriving. She ended up knowing a group of people at the next bar we went to and we all got to know each other over some beers and drinking games. Now we know where to go for a cheap happy hour on Friday and it's right around the corner!