Public Bus to Portobello

Bus Ride to Portobello

We anchored in the back of Linton Bay, closer to Puerto Lindo which is really rolly. In addition to the rolling waves, the pangas come by, rather fast, to and from the port which makes it even more uncomfortable. We were up early and decided to catch the bus to Portobello to try to find a SIM card and get off the dolly boat.

On the way to the marina, we ran into Sam and Toby from “Sweet Chariot” and told them that we were heading to Portobello. They had just cleared in to Panama and needed to finish up with Immigration at Portobello so they decided to come with us. We were told to hop on the bus going the opposite direction, toward “La Guia” to secure a seat. Had we waited for it to make the circle, we would have had to stand for the hour trip. As the bus was approaching we were greeted with a high pitch squealing sound – almost like a whistle. But that was pushed out of our minds when we actual saw the bus coming toward us. It was all chromed and blinged out, highly decorated with sparkle, shine, feathers, and glitter!

Public Bus to Portobello

Public Bus to Portobello

Once seated, we quickly realized the high pitch sound was actually the breaks, or lack there of. Our driver was very skilled and mastered the twists and turns at break neck speeds causing a few to get motion sick. But, we made it safe and sound an hour later and quickly exited after paying $1.40 each.

Portobello is a very small town. It consists of a fort, 5 Chinese stores, a few panderias, a beautiful gallery, a few tourist shops, and a church. I am sure there is more to it, but this is what we saw after exploring for 4 hours.

The little school of rhythm in Portobello, Panama.

The little school of rhythm in Portobello, Panama.

The bus dropped us off at one of the Chinese grocery stores, so we all went in to check it out.  I stopped at the counter to ask if they sold Digicel sim cards as that was my priority and to our surprise they did!  The lady was extremely helpful and sold us our sim and top up cards good for a month.

Sam and Toby went off to find immigration as Matt and I explored  Fort San Lorenzo. This fort was built in 1758 and was in pretty good shape.  It faced the bay where very few boats were anchored.  Most of the boats seemed like “derelict” boats minus of course, one of our cruiser buddies, “Kokopelli” who came here to finish with their immigration process as well.

View of Fort San Lorenzo approaching from the street.

View of Fort San Lorenzo approaching from the street.

For San Lorenzo entrance. Look closely at the date above the arch.

For San Lorenzo entrance. Look closely at the date above the arch.

Fort San Lorenzo entrance with lovely cross.

Fort San Lorenzo entrance with lovely cross.

Inside Fort San Lorenzo.

Inside Fort San Lorenzo.

As we continued down the waterfront, signs indicated a dead end.  We thought we would go to the end and turn up toward the main road.  At the end of the road was a beautiful gallery full of magnificent wooden carved pieces, paintings, artwork, jewelry and more.  It was almost something you’d see in L.A., N.Y. or other high end area.  Gorgeous stuff.  Just past this gallery is a small eatery where we encountered Brian and Mizzy from Kokopelli. After we caught up with them for a few minutes we wandered back through town, through the Chinese grocery stores, and to the church

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios (church) is well known for its Black cruicifix/black Christ or El Christo Negro.  A small tour group was going through so I was only able to snap a few photos.  Nobody knows how El Christo Negro arrived in Portobello, but they have tried to move it several times and it always returns to Portobello.  Twice a year they change His robes and during Holy week, people will walk as far as 50 miles to the celebration, some on hands and knees, some carrying crosses, some on bellies.

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Interior of Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Interior of Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

El Christo Negro at Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

El Christo Negro at Iglesia de San Juan de Dios

Purple is the color for this church in honor of the color of the robes worn during Christ’s crucifixion.  The priests wear purple and the rosary beads and all the trinkets they sell are in purple.

Pretty rosary beads in purple.

Pretty rosary beads in purple.

We found the tourist office which had some pretty displays of festival / carnival masks.

Carnival mask at Customs office.

Carnival mask at Customs office.

Carnival festival clothing in Customs Office.

Carnival festival clothing in Customs Office.

Past noon, we were all hungry so we ordered lunch at a panderia and made good use of their wifi. We installed our new sim cards, downloaded the local Digicel app, and tried to upload the data but no luck.  So, we decided to check the return bus time and do some provisioning.  The best store turned out to be the first store we visited where we bought the sim cards.  At check out, she asked if the phones worked and I said “no”.  She worked on our phone for at least 20 minutes before finally getting it to work.  This lady took the sim card out of her phone to active Sam & Toby’s card as their phone had 1% battery life. Wow, now that is customer service!

It took us several attempts to find the right bus going back to La Guia / Puerto Lindo.  After an hour we were on our way back to the marina.

We headed toward Hans restaurant in Puerto Lindo since the marina bar was closed today.  We enjoyed some libations and chow with “Sweet Chariot,” “Hecla,” “Wandering Rose,” and a new group of cruisers.

Accomplishments:

  • SIM Cards
  • Provisioning
  • Tour Fort San Lorenzo
  • Find El Christo Negro
  • Eat
  • Wifi it up!

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