Here I am, for the first time ever. This is also the first country so far on this trip that I had never been to before. And the first country in South America (sort of) that I've been to besides Peru. Feels like an achievement.
It's Carnaval, which I didn't expect at all. Apparently almost 1/3 of the workers who came for the canal were from Barbados, and they certainly seem to have left their mark. Jungla Hostel, where I'm staying (Luna's Castle was fully booked and recommended here - thanks, Bronagh!) is just down the road from the main carnaval strip. The parades are not much by New Orleans standards, but the atmosphere is really good. Kids (and a fair number of grownups) have water guns, spray snow, and bags of confetti with which they soak/squirt/sprinkle everyone, which is a lot more fun than it sounds. Ran out of batteries for my camera, though, so no good pictures.
Yesterday I went to the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the canal. It was really something. The locks are fenced off, but there's a visitors' center nearby with a museum and viewing points on the 1st and 4th floors, each with a good view. It's kind of hypnotic, watching the boats go through. I really liked the little museum, too, that describes the history of the construction with models of the machines they used, the ecology of the watershed, and their plans for the expansion.