Friday, January 05, 2007

Report: Mules

Transiting the Panama Canal is a remarkable experience. The size of the lifts and locks, the length of the Gallard Cut and the history of the construction provide a grand sense of scale. For me, however, the most interesting aspect of the Canal and its operation was the little locomotives called “Mules” -- named after the beasts of burden which they replaced -- and how they worked in teams to guide ships through. Using bells for signals, coordinating their efforts, climbing up and down the elevation changes, these little helpers are amazing. I, for one, will admit to waving a fond farewell each time one sent us on our way and went back for its next ship. Call me crazy if you want, but I think you might feel the same way too. Here’s my little homage to the “Mules” from The Voyage of Macgellan.

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