15 November 2010 | Portobello
Saturday 13th November , 2010
Our last stop in the San Blas was the islands of Chichime. We spent a few days exploring the snorkel sites and met up with friends that were in Coco Banderos with us. There was also a small bar on the island but this one we didn't visit, wonder of wonders!. There was a yellow trimaran anchored close to us though, that obviously partied hard of an evening and decided it would be fun to let loose with a few flares in the anchorage.... not up, but through the boats. One missed our bow by a very close margin. Needless to say that there were a few of us cruisers who did not think this behavior was very professional.
We left Chichime on the 29th October destination Isla Linton. Mostly the trip went well until the afternoon when the seas chopped up a little with wind on the nose and making headway slowed so we decided to stop overnight in Green Turtle Bay, which turned out to be much smaller than anticipated and a roller coaster ride. Here we spent a sleepless night as it was very uncomfortable and we couldn't wait to get going in the morning. Upped anchor early and sailed to Isla Linton ( 30th ), a short trip. On the way we went through a squall which lasted quite a while, lots of rain and no visibility but fortunately the sun peeked out just as we were making our way to the entrance so the stress level evened out somewhat.
Isla Linton was a really lovely protected anchorage, nestled between the island and the mainland and with plenty of space. Isla Linton itself is uninhabited except for some monkeys which we hear are fairly tame but get a little upset when they see you leaving the island and could bite, so we decided we would just take photos from the dinghy. Rather safe than sorry! We are now on mainland Panama and the vegetation has changed to jungle. Most homes and villages are built on the waters edge and there is a road link to Colon by bus or taxi. We can hear howler monkeys and there is lots of wild life and bird life. Total contrast to the San Blas islands but a change is as good as a holiday, I guess.
On shore was a restaurant/bar, owned by Hans and a few afternoons were spent here playing Mexican Train dominoes or stopping for a few beers and a meal after a walkabout. We walked through the villages of Puerto Lindo and Garrote which are typical fishing villages with dogs, chickens, ducks and pigs. The population is now more West Indian and although Spanish is still spoken, English is heard a lot more. We visited Isla Grande ( next door island ) by dinghy and being Independence holidays in Panama found it very festive with everyone set to enjoy their BBQ and beach day . Even though the day started out rainy it cleared up and a good day was had by all the visitors. Unfortunately the weather turned nasty for a few days with swell entering the bay and having us boat bound and rolling. When we eventually decided to try a shore visit we had a right time trying to get off and then back into the dinghy later. However nothing much deters the four us from partaking of liquid refreshment. We sat in Han's place with some other brave, wet cruisers and enjoyed our beers while watching the waves break over into the restaurant area from a safe distance.
Tuesday 9th November was the day picked to make a run for Portobello as the sea was supposedly calming down but allow me to add that the swell was a good 8-10ft. We left at 10.45am and arrived in Portobello at 2.30pm, 11.5 nm trip and had a current of 2-2.5 knots against us. I will post pictures taken by Passat who were ahead of us. Very thankful to arrive in a calm anchorage and have a peaceful rest.
A lot more rain on this side of the world, seas not so calm and weather windows need to be picked before moving on. Still small villages built along the waters edge and the rest of the mainland with thick growth reminiscent of jungle. Very pretty though. Went into Sabanitas town yesterday on an old school bus (1 hours, local transport ) to check out the supermarket which was quite an exciting ride. The Reys supermarket was huge for us as we have been buying out of huts for the last few months..... but better is yet to come as we get to Colon area. There was a parade on the go as it was yet another holiday and after shopping ( 1.00pm )we came out to catch the bus back. While we were looking around a taxi person came to tell us we needed to catch a taxi back as the next bus to Portobello was at 6.30pm because of the holiday. This would cost us only $ 20.00 for the 5 of us. ( the bus was $ 1.30 each ) Needless to say, even though we were concerned, we were not trusting of the taxi man which was a good thing as a bus did indeed come along about 20 minutes later. Us "gringos" are such prime targets in this neck of the woods!
We have walked through the town, found a few Chinese supermarkets with the necessary supplies, stores selling tourist bits and pieces and have visited Capt. Jacks on the hill where there is wireless internet at $ 3.00 all day, and he runs a restaurant and bar. He is quite organized catering to the needs of cruisers. A visit to the San Jeronimo Fort was also very interesting ( There is another to be explored ). The Church of San Felipe de Portobello is home to the Black Christ of Portobello, a wooden statue of Jesus of Nazareth. Once a year the devout make a pilgrimage to the holy shrine, sometimes walking on their knees from as far away as Costa Rica to show their devotion. The Festival of the Black Christ is celebrated October 21st every year.
Our plan is to get a bus to Panama city next week and I will keep you updated.