At the end our Nile River cruise from Luxor to Aswan, we visited the High Damn. Most of us have heard about the Aswan damn, but there are really two damns, an older damn and the newer one, which is referred to as the High Damn. It was built to end the flooding that used to occur on a regular basis along the Nile River and has truly helped the agriculture business in Egypt. In addition to controlling the water, it is also a source of a lot of the power needed in the regions, so power lines are abundant across the surrounding desert landscape. One interesting side effect of the damn was that it has trapped all of the crocodiles for which the Nile is famous south of the damn, so you won’t see any crocodiles between Luxor and Aswan.
The Aswan High Damn is interesting from a historical perspective, but actually visiting the damn is, quite frankly, not particularly fascinating. There are tours that you can take south of the damn, but we didn’t do any during our visit to Egypt. We spent about 30 minutes walking around the damn in the simmering heat of Aswan, which was the hottest location that we experienced during our time in Egypt. If you go to Aswan, it is probably worthwhile to see the damn, but it certainly isn’t worth going out of your way to visit, at least in our opinion.
Any visit to Panama City should certainly include visiting the locks at the Panama Canal. The new locks opened in 2016 and is definitely a source of national pride for the country as this was the first project run by Panama in the canal. Although you don’t have to understand the history of the Panama Canal to appreciate how impressive the locks are from an engineering perspective. It is obviously much more than a source of pride for the country as every ship that passes through the canal pays fees that can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially even up to a million dollars.
The new locks are able to accommodate even larger ships as well as allow ships to get through the locks even faster, both of which means more revenue for the country. The new and old locks sit side by side and both are always in use as ships queue up to wait their turn to get through the locks. Tug boats steer them into the locks, which either raise or lower the water depending upon the direction they are going in order to allow them to continue on their journey. Depending upon the time of year, the new locks have the ability to reserve the water and reuse it for each time that the water is raised and lowered in order to keep the dam levels in Gutan Lake at an appropriate level.
The original design for the canal by the French engineers was to just build a sea level canal without the use of locks. The original construction of the canal failed for a lot of reasons including yellow fever and the sheer difficulty of the task. When the US took over construction, they originally considered continuing to do a sea level canal, but eventually concluded that the locks would be a better solution. The Panama Canal was first completed in 1913, however it was overshadowed by the start of World War I. It remained an important military strategic advantage for the United States through the end of World War II.
When visiting the locks, be sure to either go to the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo beforehand or at least listen to the 20 minute video at the canal locks themselves. A visit to the locks will only take you about an hour, but be sure to stay long enough to at least watch one ship enter or leave the locks so that you can see them in action. We went as part of a longer tour, which is a great way to see the locks and then end up out on the canal itself. We were also treated to something special as our guide arranged it for us to walk across the old locks, which isn’t normally allowed. We weren’t allowed to stop or take pictures as we hustled across the lock. We also drove back across the locks, which is fascinating as well, but that road will not be used in the future when the new bridge is finished.
There is something truly magical about walking through the ruins of an ancient civilization. Perhaps in another life we would have been archeologists, searching for long lost treasures buried by the sands of time. Certainly our trip to Athens was another example of that desire to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. It is hard not to imagine Plato or Socrates walking next to you as you walk along the Parthenon. Examples of the great societies of the past can be found all over the world. Seeing the incredible monuments that have survived for thousands of years can sometimes make us question whether civilizations today are truly as superior as we would like to believe them to be. Whether it is Mesa Verde in Colorado, Tiwanaku and Incallajta in Bolivia, or the Acropolis in Athens, we should embrace our history as much as we marvel at the latest technological advancements. So, for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, Resilient, we thought that we would share a few photos of the ruins that we have seen.