Today on National Geographic Quest, we had an opportunity to visit Portobelo, a very important town in the Spaniard conquest. In 1502, Christopher Columbus was on his fourth journey to America aboard la Nina, la Pinta, y la Santa Maria. He saw the bay in the distance and called it Beautiful Bay. The Spaniards settled the town in 1597 when it was founded by Francisco Valverde Mercado. The town held a very important geopolitical position because of trade from South America through Panama, including gold and silver. Slave trade in Portobelo included 59,000 people.
We began our day by offering historic walks around different fortifications. We learned about the military strategies of the Spaniards and how they protected the town from pirates and buccaneers. We visited a church with the famous Black Christ of Portobelo. Each October 21, massive celebrations are held that draw people from all over the country. After the walk, we enjoyed a Congo performance that included an explanation of the culture and dress.
We returned to National Geographic Quest for lunch and waited for our Panama Canal Pilot. Around 3:00 pm, the pilot arrived, and we slowly started crossing the Panama Canal. We had some rain and enjoyed an opportunity to observe monkeys, birds, and crocodiles.