Panama City,  Panama, November, 2010
The Miraflores locks open and we are greeted back into the Pacific Ocean.  It is a great feeling to be back in the Ocean we left from.  Below Blue Sky sails below the Bridge of the Americas, we are proudly flying our new Blue Sky Soda Flag.  Once we pass under the bridge we are welcomed by the impressive sky line of Panama City
Our fantastic crew, having a well deserved cold beer after our transit.  Bottom row from left; Emma, Jim Machado, Edwin, Jerry and Rudy Smits.  Top row, Grandpa Bill Mather, Drake, Phoebe and Grandpa Ed Byrne-Quinn. Captain Jim is taking the photo.
With the transit complete it was time to relax and see some of the historic sites of Panama.  Casco Viejo has a mix of colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and ethnic diversity.  The Museo del Canal Interoceanico, on the upper left, is housed in an elegantly restored French building built in the 1870s.  Housing Spanish armor and weapons, plus a detailed history of the railroad and canal, is well worth a visit.  When Sir Henry Morgan, the privateer, plundered the original city of Panama, the Spanish King ordered that it be rebuilt at this location.The new location was easier to defend with the reefs that extend into the bay, preventing ships  approaching except at high tide.  In the Caribean we did not experience much of a tide, now we have to be aware of it, the difference can be as much as 15 feet. Bill poses infront of the "new" Panama city, with skyscapers being built everywhere, most of which are only half way completed.  He was here eight years ago, and there were none. In 1904, when the construction of the Canal began, all of Panama City exsisted where Casco Viejo is.  The cities population was 30,000, about the same as it was when Captain Morgan attacked Panama Viejo.

To the left in the yellow building is a neighborhood institution, the
Coca Cola Cafe. An old school diner, with locals playing chess and simple home cooked meals. 
Panama Viejo was the oldest Spanish settlement on the Pacific coast of America.  It was founded on August 15, 1519 by Pedrarias Davila. The town was destroyed in the wake of Sir Henry Morgan's invasion and was never rebuilt.  In 1976 it was declared a historic site and in 2003 was included in Unesco's World Heritage list.  Above is the tower adjacent to Our Lady of the Asumption Cathedral, the restoration included stairs you can climb to the top for a fantastic view Panama City and the ruins below.  The signs depict how the original lay out of the city appeared.  Below right is a photo of the original spiral stair case leading the lookout.  Spain profited from their famed bullion pipeline, which ran from Peru's gold and silver mines to Europe via Panama. Because of the amount of wealth that passed through the city, the Spanairds kept many soldiers here to keep the bucaneers away.
Nearly a century later, in 1671, 1200 pirates led by Henry Morgan ascended the Rio Chagres from the Caribean side, and proceeded overland to Panama.  The city was not fortified, but was it was protected on three sides by the sea and marshes, but not from the land.  The Spanish made many mistakes and adventually ran from the pirates.  "Empire of Blue Water", by Stephen Talty is a great book on the subject.
Jim, Irene and Mats, with Eva and Guy (from Oregon), Emma and Phoebe and Drake enjoying the motor back to Panama City.  We even caught a Sierra on the way!  Dropping anchor everyone had a swim in the Ocean then we all headed our seperate ways. 
Grandpa Bill was heading home earlier than Edward.  After a lovely meal at a great restaurant in Panama City called La Posta, he spent his last night on Blue Sky. The next morning we made sure he was on time for his flight back to Reno.  The day after Bill left we took Edward, on the boat, over to Isla Taboga, about seven miles away from Panama City. 
Phoebe and Drake at Isla Taboga
Phoebe, Drake and Edward in front of the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1550, on Isla Taboga.
The water at Isla Taboga was very inviting and clear after Panama City and Colon.  Much to our dismay, the bottom of Blue Sky looked like a teenagers unwashed face.  She had barnacles all over, the likes we have not seen in the six years we have been out.  The beach was wonderful to explore, finding an old anchor, steamship wheel and a couple skeletons of old ships.  The island was inhabited by indigenous people who lived in thatched huts and made their living from the sea.  The Spanish enslaved the locals in 1515, and claimed the island.  Panama freed the slaves in 1549, but peace did not reign.  Henry Morgan and Francis Drake frequented the island, using it as a base from which to attack Spanish ships.  The island then became a sanitarium in the 1880's when the French started digging the canal.  Caring for the numerous workers who had contracted Malaria and Yellow Fever.  The famous artist Gaugin was one such employee and patient.
The Hotel Vereda Tropical located on the hillside with a commanding view of the bay  was a lovely spot to relax and watch the sunset, to food was great. Below we are all pictured on their veranda.
During our evening meal at the hotel we met some other travelers and started talking.  They were heading back to Panama the following day, so we offered them a ride. 
Irene and Mats from Sweden coming out to  Blue Sky.
Phoebe and Grandpa enjoy a stroll along the beach.
Grandpa Edward flew out the following day back to Tucson.  It was very special to have both our fathers join us for such an important part of our trip.

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