Posted by: Sailing Camelot | December 23, 2012

Portobello Bay – Dec 4th to Dec 7th

The run from Shelter Bay to Portobello Bay takes us just a couple of hours. Soon we are scoping the bay to find our perfect spot.

 

Welcome to Bahia de Portobelo

Welcome to Bahia de Portobelo

 

Fuerte San Fernando, 18th Century

Fuerte San Fernando, 18th Century

 

We get settled in front of Fuerte San Fernando, one of the three Spanish Forts overlooking the bay.

Tom inspecting the cannons

Tom inspecting the cannons

 

Threatening enough...

Threatening enough…

 

From here we can also see Fuerte San Jeronimo (the town is built behind it) and the Santiago Battery on the other side of the bay.

Fuerte San Jeronimo, 17th Century

Fuerte San Jeronimo, 17th Century

 

6

 

The Bay of Portobello was discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 2nd, 1502.

Apparently, Portobello was an important Spanish settlement in the past and there are well-kept remains of forts and batteries everywhere.

The Battery overlooking ther Bay

The Battery overlooking ther Bay

 

Scenic Vantage Point

Scenic Vantage Point

 

Just outside the bay, by a small island called Isla Drake, lays the lead coffin containing the body of Sir Francis Drake.

There’s a lot of history and lots of well-preserved ruins dating back to the 17th and 18th Century; exploring them will certainly keep us entertained.

The Lower Battery

The Lower Battery

 

Can't think of better protection!

Can’t think of better protection!

 

This wide, calm and protected bay is home (temporary or permanent) to about 70 boats right now. I can see why people spend months at a time here. We meant to just spend the night, but ended up staying four days…

The little village is colorful, the people friendly and smiling. There seems to be a more definite Caribbean attitude, a welcome change from the gloomier atmosphere we left behind.

In the middle of the village stands the Church of San Felipe de Portobello, home of the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

La Iglesia de San Felipe

La Iglesia de San Felipe

 

The statue is considered holy and worshipped with fervor because of the miracles attributed to it. People walk on their knees from as far as Costa Rica to pay their respects and petition the local saint every October 21st.

 

The famous statue of the Black Christ

The famous statue of the Black Christ

 

There’s also a very colorful music school, children can be seen in their immaculate uniforms carrying their instruments, and the tentative notes of xylophones and steel drums can be heard along with a lot of laughter.

 

Cheerful mural on the music school wall

Cheerful mural on the music school wall

Looks like a fun place...

Looks like a fun place…

 

Lots of noise behind these doors!

Lots of noise behind these doors!

 

Surprisingly, we even manage to find a tasty pizza at the local bakery, run by an Italian man from Rome and his local wife.

A short but steep hike takes you to and a nice and popular watering hole called Captain Jack. Here backpackers meet and rest, waiting for their boat rides to Colombia. Cruisers gather for a few beers, good food and sea stories.

 

Captain's Jack Canopy Bar

Captain’s Jack Canopy Bar

 

We enjoyed an awesome cheeseburger and some good company, here. Captain Jack himself is a very nice fellow who had the right idea.

Still, after four days we get restless; the lure of the San Blas Islands is beckoning, the weather is looking good, and by now we’ve seen enough ruins and Spanish cannons… It’s time to get going again.

 

Adios, Fuerte San Fernando!

Adios, Fuerte San Fernando!

 

 

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