Diary 12 (or The Canal´s closed! but that`s what I came to see :-( )13/9/2001 Sunday, my last day in Mexico and I spend it amongst the ruins of the Aztecs - Mexico´s final indigineous civilisation who were the goldmine of Cortez`s ambitions and greed. Templo Mayor was accidentally discovered during construction work adjacent to the Zocalo and fully excavated in recent years. The barren plateau of central Mexico had been home to civilised man for several millenium, though it was historically the site of a huge lagoon with a central island upon which culture thrived, protected by the natural defense. Accordingly, and like the Mayans, the Mexicas built and rebuilt their temples - Templo Mayor shows 5 distinct structures, each nested inside its successor like so many Russian dolls. It might be their all-pervading reputation, but the ornamentationa dn carvings here have a cruder, more base ambience with a definite taint of bloodletting and sacrifice. The chacmools and serpents heads are intent on prey and the skullracks are sufficiently lifelike to warrant a second look. The musuem is interesting, but very lowlit and without a word of English so its back to the hostel, and reburdened with luggage onto the Metro for a final time. Destination Panama and the Canal.The hotel that I had chosen in Panama City is closed down, but the Pension Las Tablas is sufficient for my sleeping hours with a coldwater shower and TV with one tuned channel. My first wander takes me into some decidely dodgy districts where I definitely dont feel safe but I quickly beat a retreat to the more commercial zones of town. The old district of Casco Viejo is marginally better, with a supposedly good museum of the Canal`s construction (closed on Mondays - doh!) and excellent views across the Bay of Panama to the financial district - my first view of the Pacific since Hong Kong. Panama`s non-highrise areas are quite rundown, bordering on ramshackle in places and obvious poverty is never too far away. People (and its quite an ethnic mix here) always seem have a grin brewing somewhere but it never quite breaks out. Panama isn`t shaping up to be my most favourite of places so far. In the afternoon I take a taxi out to the causeway, 4km of stone hewn from the construction of the canal, whose exit it accompanies out into the Pacific. The ships are lined up for passage offshore and the mountain bike I`ve hired makes short work of the smooth road along the causeway. One ship laden with containers makes its way out of the canal`s entrance as I watch, just slightly envious as it leaves Panama behind.Damn everything for being in Spanish! As I boarded my bus to Colon this morning I`d caught glimpses of tragedy on the TV screens that ring Panama City`s new bus terminal and had a faint feeling I was looking at a much foreshortened World Trade Centre. After arriving in Colon I was eating luch and got chatting to the owner, my intent being to find the easiest way to the Gatun locks. It took half an hour but I eventually got the full story, which you are probably sated on by now, of hijackers, planes, Washington and New York. Time to find an internet cafe and do some catching up, which meant another 2 hour return journey to Panama City. I wasn`t getting anywhere near the Canal Zone anyway as it had been closed to the likes of me following the terrorist activities. It`s just a little scary that one can be so divorced from the "outside" world that it requires something of this magnitude to make its immediate effect felt.Access to the locks are still closed so its time for a dose of commercialism: Los Pueblos, the new outdoor shopping centre out of town. Thoroughly unmemorable, though Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider that afternoon certainly wasnt easy to forget! Wednesday - tick!Its being raining solidly for 36 hours now, sometimes big drops of drizzle that soak down your back, and then heavy downpours that would soak one to the skin if one wasnt hiding in a restaurant, the Canal museum or an internet cafe. Still, its back to the airport and onto Peru tomorrow - I hope that lives up to its billing... discounting through airplane windows.  and resembling Belize City.  My destination for the day, the largest set of locks on the canal facing the Altantic.  The Canal Zone was returned to Panamanian soverienty in 1999, but the USA retains the right to "defend" it in cases of national emergency.