On Saturday, we crossed the Suez Canal from the Gulf of Suez into the Mediterranean Sea. It took most of the day as did the crossing of the Panama Canal. Like in Panama, there is a large lake between the narrow passages and there was an expansion in the early 2000’s. There the similarities end. The Suez Canal, built in the mid-1800’s, has no locks, is about twice as long and much more narrow than the Panama Canal, and could not be in a more different climate. The Suez Canal is in the desert and the Panama Canal is in tropical rain forest; no wonder the people who built the Suez Canal failed in Panama.
For a century and a half, the Suez Canal had one channel and ships traveled in convoys in one direction. A few years ago, an additional channel was added. The first photo shows the entrance into the first channel as we travel north in the new one. In the second photo to the left of my head, you can see a container ship in the other channel. The sand dunes in the middle hide the water in the other channel, making it look like that ship is traveling through sand.
The third photo shows a swinging bridge that can be placed across the canal in a few minutes and allow passage from Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula (also Egypt) on the opposite side. Recently, a permanent bridge was built and a new city appears to be developing around it. More than one of our lecturers mentioned that in ancient times there were a number of other canals that connected various parts of the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, showing how important that connection was. As we travel northwest in the Mediterranean Sea, the temperature is much cooler and the sea more rough. We visit Naples tomorrow.