San Blas Islands to Isla Linton & Portobelo
The half day trip from Chichme in the San Blas to Linton provided us with an opportunity to fish.  Phoebe heard the line spinning and yelled "Fish On", hoping to catch a dorado or tuna, we were surprised to see a small shark.  Wanting to keep all our fingers, we cut the line and let him keep the lure.  Isla Linton is uninhabitated by humans, however, the spider monkeys have taken over.  They can be aggressive, so we threw bananas onto their dock and watched them eat from the safety of our dinghy.  From the anchorage there is a covered mangrove waterway that leads to Panama Marina, which has a nice restaurant, and more importantly, ice cream.  An ex-cruiser runs a restaurant ashore with simple hearty meals.  The local buses are an adventure to ride, they are old Blue Bird school buses from the late 1970's, decked out with air brush paintings, loud music and flashing lights.  We rode one for an hour to the town of Sabanitas, where we re-loaded our provisions.
From Linton we motored two hours to the historic port of Portobelo.  Behind Drake is the infamous Drake's Rock, where it is rumored that Sir Francis Drake was sent to Davy Jones locker after dying of yellow fever.  Supposidly his cut of the treasure was sent overboard with him.
Annually, Portobelo hosts the Black Christ Festival. In preparation for the celebrations, vendors were set up all over town.  Phoebe and Drake's favorite was the snow cone man.  Scapping a metal object, like a cheese grater over a block of ice he formed the cone, them sprinkled flavored sugar water on top.  The locals enjoy them with evaporated milk as well.
The bay of Portobelo is surrounded by forts, and was given its name by Christopher Columbus in 1502.  The Spanish abandoned Nombre de Dios after Sir Francis Drake attacked it in 1596.  Portobelo  lent itself as a good defensive strong hold. 
Even with all the forts, Portobelo was attacked numerous times by privateers.  The inhabitants were so scared of the bucaneers, that if they were warned of an attack they would flee the city, leaving all their treasures behind.  Above right is the old Royal Customs House, built in 1630 to serve as the counting house for the King of Spains gold.  The treasure was brought across the isthmus from Peru and stored until Spanish Galleons could deliver the loot to Spain.
Drake enjoyed exploring Fuerte San Jeronimo.  This was the largest fortress built to protect the bay.  Facing the mouth of the bay are 18 cannon embrasures. Some of the original cannons remain exactly where the Spanish troops left them when they returned home in 1821.
The event of the year was approaching, October 21, the sleepy little town of 2000 people, grows to 20,000.  The Black Christ festival is notorious and makes for an interesting time. In  honor of the statue that is housed in the Iglesia de San Felipe, is a facinating event to witness. 
Pilgrims arrive from all over Panama to dance and celebrate in honor of the Black Christ.  They crawl on their knees to the church, while having hot wax poured on their backs.The pilgrims believe this will cure them of their ailments.  To the left, a woman is in the middle of the street taking a break.  On the right, are all the vendors capitalizing on the event.  There are a few different stories of how the statue came into Portobelo.  One is that fishermen found it floating in a box and brought it ashore.  It was then placed on a ship for Spain, the ship could not leave due to bad weather and sank at the entrance.  The box floated ashore, where the locals placed it inside the church.  Once safely in the church, the cholora epidemic that swept the town vanished.
In the evening the Christ is brought out of the church and paraded around the town, followed by thousands of people.  In front is a band playing New Orleans style jazz.  Finding a place to sit, eat and watch the craziness, we learned that one of the servers, Meri,  was from Detroit, helping out her cousin. 
Chi Chi and Meri serving heaps of  great food.
Blue Sky is anchored off Fuerto San Fernando, which occupies the grassy flat on the opposite side of town. Sadly, most of the valueable San Fernando rock  was aquired and utilizied to create the breakwater protecting the northern end of the Panama Canal at Colon.  The fort is located on three tiers of the hill side.  Hiking to the uppermost garrison we noticed trails and trails of leaf cutter ants working very hard.   
Thankfully the canons were not loaded.  The night of the festival there were fireworks.  Closing your eyes and listening to the explosions you could just imagine the sound of canons echoing across the bay.
To enter the tower at the top of the hill one had to navigate over two wooden planks across the moat.  Phoebe and Drake opted to crawl to the other side, rather than risk looking down and falling. 
The local cruiser hang out is run by Jack and Dennis, Captain Jack's Canopy Bar.  Jack has circumnavigated and knows what cruisers require.  They had a small monkey, named Cheeky, who they rescued from a Columbian trader.  Cheeky will explore your pockets, and examine anything he finds in there.

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