The engineering feat of the Canal is amazing, and just reinforces the notion that when Mankind decides to do something, we truly can. It gives me hope that we will overcome, eventually, our current predicament caused by over consumption of fossil fuels.
The big cultural takeaway for me was the animosity towards the USA, and all that the colonial relationship had provided within the Canal Zone seemed lost on the current population. The entire trip was centered around the Canal and the vast majority of GDP of Panama comes from the Canal, which the USA provided for them, yet the prevailing attitude comes off as resentment. Interestingly, however, they gladly accept the US Dollar, and their currency is pegged to it.
The flora and fauna are amazing, but the pictures don't do them justice. We were there during the rainy season, and during the week, we saw the sun once for about 30 minutes. A pictorial archive of the trip is here: