Aerial Fascinations

We love to fly, and are fascinated with geography. This is the perfect marriage of interests for travelers. 

Our last trip to South America was at night. This time we are flying all the way in daytime and essentially within the same time zone .

We are using Copa Airlines. We had not flown with them before but learned that they are a division of Continental Airlines that began by serving Central and more recently South America. Their base is centrally located in Panama City.

Copa has the youngest fleet of aircraft in the world. The new 737-800s  feature "blended winglets", an all-new advanced wing design. Winglets allow the aircraft to take off more easily from high-altitude airports and in higher temperatures, making it more fuel-efficient. In addition, the winglets enable the airline to transport more passengers and cargo on long-distance routes.

It was a short 3 hour flight from Miami to Panama City. We follow the canal to the Pacific side and recall the fascinating fact that due to the intestine like shape of Central America, the Pacific entrance to the canal is actually EAST of the Atlantic opening. There were many large container ships awaiting entrance to the canal from the Pacific side.

After less than 2 hours in the steamy capitol we change to another Copa plane to continue our trek southward. The next fascination to explore is how the West coast of South America is further East than the  East coast of North America (check it out).

My 7th grade teacher, Vi McCormick would hold us spellbound in her daily pre-recess reading of Martin and Osa Johnson's "Travels in Africa". When the angry elephant was about to charge the convoy, she would invariably stop in the middle of the adventure to say "time for recess"  ! We would be torn between going outside or running to the book to find out what happened. Among the memories from that great book was the lasting mental image of a mountain on the equator that was snowcapped. I was certainly fortunate in having such creative and stimulating teachers. 

To this day, I dream of going to Africa to see the Serengeti Plain and especially Mt. Kilimanjaro with it snow. So, when shortly after crossing the equator we entered the northern range of the Andes and, there it was - an equatorial mountain covered with snow, it brought back memories.

Two years ago we stood fascinated on the beach at Puako on the big island of Hawaii in 80 degree heat looking up to the 14,000 ft summit of Mona Kea where the last night's storm had lowered the snow line to the 5,000 level - again we were in awe of nature's extremes.

The Amazon too, has it's mystery. To see the wonderful and meandering tributaries of the huge water system from the air was a thrill ! Remembering its jungles, its tribes, its pink fresh water dolphins and stories of travelers make this a true adventure in the air - albeit vicarious. 

The last geographic gem that I want to share with you about our Americas, concerns Maine and Brazil:
 The two highest points on the entire Atlantic coast of our western hemisphere are Cadillac Mountain in Maine  and Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio De Janeiro - with ten's of thousands of miles of coast in between there are none higher.