Panama 2: Panama City to Portobelo

Once again as the first to arrive, Team Australia departed the pit stop by taxi to Panama City’s Gran Terminal.  Their clue required the team to make their way to Captain Jack’s, Portobelo, where they would receive their next clue.  Arriving at the terminal, they boarded a bus north to Colón.  The drive initially started well, but as they approached Colón, their bus hit traffic.  Unfortunately, their bus took an hour longer to arrive in Colón.

For some reason, the bus did not drive to the terminal and instead deposited the team outside of one of the massive free trade zone complexes. This meant that they had to walk back along the road south to get their next bus.  While few people were about, this area did not seem particularly safe.  This was soon emphasised by two men in khaki on a motorcycle speeding into an intersection ahead of the team as they walked.  The man on the back of the motorcycle held an MP5 up to get the traffic to stop to allow two unmarked SUVs to speed through. Needless to say, both Ang and Simon raced down the road as fast as they could and along the way grabbed a terrible Nescafe coffee shot before arriving at the bus terminal.

That’s how you spell Gourmet? Here in Colón

Simon said later,”by this point we had realised we had made a mistake coming all the way into Colón.  We could have changed earlier at an earlier junction to the Portobelo bus.  Colón isn’t a particularly safe city and out of all the places in Central America, it had probably most had a hyper commercial war zone feel”.  To which Ang added “dirty, smelly.  I’m just glad we were able to get to the right bus out of there”.

As is common in Central America, touts funnelled the team to the correct chicken bus and the team were soon speeding along the coast to reach Portobelo. Shortly after having reached Portobelo, the team made their way to Captain Jack’s hostel where they received their next clue from Captain Jack himself.  Portobelo was at one time the key point where gold from South America was transhipped back to Spain.   However, even through this town was highly important to the conquistadors as the gold transhipment point for all of South America, it has not significantly changed since.

Angela’s chicken bus collection

The clue tasked the team to sail via the Sans Blas Archipelago to Colombia.  To do this, the team would travel aboard the One World, a mini pirate ship.  A meeting was held with the One World crew and other passengers, including Team Ireland, and passports were collected.  Unfortunately, the port master was unavailable and out of town, necessitating that the departure be pushed back a day.

The team occupied their time by visiting the church famous for the black Jesus, checking out the two forts and the four supermarkets for the best wine money could buy for the voyage before spending the night at Captain Jack’s.

The famous black Jesus Captain Jack’s pirate hangout

…to be continued.

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