We left the San Blas Islands and headed toward Colon and the Panama Canal. To break up the 80 mile trip, we stopped in the village of Portobello. This town had been a major player in the days of pirates and bounty! The Bay of Portobello was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus! Representing the Spanish Crown, he chose Portobello as the Caribbean transshipment center.
Portobello has a magnificent harbor where they built four forts to protect the gold and silver that was being shipped back to Seville. The guide book said that between 1574 and 1702 forty-five galleons were set forth, none of which carried less than thirty million pesos of riches! The ruins of the fortifications and several old buildings remain today. We climbed among the ruins to see the cannons and structures.
It is also home to the Church of San Felipe de Portobello. This church is said to be the home of the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of Jesus of Nazareth. The statue has become holy and worshipped because of the many miracles attributed to it.
The famous pirate Henry Morgan attacked the area on numerous occasions to get the bounty of silver and gold. Today the town is a sleepy village with several small markets run by Vietnamese or some other Asian group. There are a couple of restaurants, but only one stood out for us so we ate there both evenings.
After a day of exploring, grocery shopping and relaxing and two nice dinners out, we raised the anchor to head on into Shelter Bay Marina, just inside the break wall at the entrance to the Panama Canal. The area was very busy with ships waiting for their transit time through the Canal to the Pacific Ocean. The water was fairly turbulent in that area as well. So it was a bit like dodge ball: Keep your eye on everyone and keep heading to your destination!