A day after arriving in Panama City I took a short cab ride from the hostel to the Miraflores Locks, one of three locks on the Panama Canal. The canal is used by approximately 14,000 vessels a year. The boats are charged by size, with large cargo ships paying between 300,000 to 400,000 USD. The cheapest fare was by a man who paid 36 cents to swim the length of the canal. The boats must pay cash only in US Dollars.
The boats are lifted 75ft above sea level so the boats can sail on Gatun Lake, a man made lake which connects the locks on the Pacific and Atlantic side. After being raised to the level of Gatun Lake, the boats are then lowered back down to sea level. Standing at the Miraflores Locks you can watch cruise ships, cargo ships, catamarans, sailboats, and even a nuclear sub pass through the locks.