By McKenzie Funk/Photography by Brown W. Cannon III
That evening Phil and I stood on Canopy Tower’s fourth-floor viewing platform and looked out over 360 degrees of jungle. Built in the 1960s to defend the canal against air raids, the radar installation’s perch atop 900-foot Semaphore Hill is still commanding—though boutique rooms, an aquamarine paint job, and a massive golden Buckminster Fuller–inspired dome make it a much less intimidating presence. Up here the canopy was almost at eye level, as were motmots, cotingas, and lineated woodpeckers. Two miles to the southwest, ships were passing through the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest part of the canal. Fifteen miles to our southeast, two dozen of Panama City’s tallest buildings poked above the hills. We were back on the platform the next morning to watch the sun rise over the Pacific (yes, the Pacific). I noticed that only beyond the Gaillard Cut could I see any deforestation or roads. The other 270 degrees seemed perfectly pristine.
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