As we got closer to town, we sighted a dock off to the west end
where it looked like we could tie the dinghy. We motored over
there, found a space at the dock, and tied off with a number of local pangas.
There were panga drivers hanging around their boats, as well as a number of
local kids who were eager to solicit a few dollars from us to "watch our dinghy".
Without making any commitments, we told them that we would be back
in an hour or so and walked up the dock to the adjacent fort.
The second fort we explored was called Fuerte Santiago, also
built in the 18th century. As we walked along
its ramparts, this time, though, instead of being by ourselves,
there were many tourists milling around on the warm Sunday morning.
Portobelo is only a short bus ride from Colon, and every 10 minutes
or so a bus would pull into the small town and disgorge 20-30 more
tourists who had by now grown to a throng, who flocked the
streets wherever we went.
Nonetheless, it was still a very interesting place to visit. Once
again this fort had a commanding view of the bay, and once again
we could easily imagine the guns firing over to where RHAPSODY
lay peacefully at anchor a mile or so away.
During its history, there were many battles fought in this bay.
Sir Francis Drake himself attacked it twice, sacking the Customs House.
In 1679, two English and one French ship united
in an attack, landing 200 men around the corner who snuck in
overland and overpowered the batteries as the ships entered
the bay for the final assault. The attack succeeded and Portobelo
was ransacked. Later, it was captured again by the famous pirate
Henry Morgan, who demanded, and received, a 100,000 peso ransom
so that he would not kill all of the inhabitants. Then it
was attacked and captured again in 1739, this time by Admiral
Edward Vernon of the British Navy.