Portobelo, Panama City History:
Portobelo is located in the Province of Colon, which is on the northern side of Panama. It was once the hub for Export and Trade and was originally named “Puerto Bello” by legend Christoper Columbus. Portobelo means “Beautiful Port”. – wikipedia
If you live in Panama City the journey is about 3 hours one-way depending on traffic. I opted for the “local experience” as opposed to using the most direct (hired) means of transportation. I took a taxi from home to the nearest Metro/Train Station then boarded a Train heading to “Direccion Albrook”.
Albrook Terminal is Panama’s main Hub for Public Transportation. From here I took a Bus heading to Colon. Normally there is a long line of people waiting for the bus. One comes every 15-20 minutes depending on the time of day. I would suggest you choose a comfortable seat because the first stop where you get off is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
First Stop: Sabanitas
The “Diablos Rojos” Bus
Summary of my bus ride experience:
- Very economical.
- The mainly works in areas where taxis are difficult during peaks times.
- Small with limited seating so a lot of people have to stand in the isles.
- Most of them are equipped with loud music speakers.
- Seats are short and not very wide which makes it very uncomfortable for long distances.
- Be prepared to be warm and sweaty. Not all the windows can be opened and the ones that do are usually all the way to the top.
- People do not get up for you to sit unless you are visibly pregnant, holding a baby or elderly. Some of the men may get up but don’t expect them to.
- There are no signal bells for you to alert the driver of your stop. You would have to get up and walk towards the driver to let him know you will be coming off soon.
- The drivers drive at ridiculous speeds hence the name “diablo rojo”.
- Very few of them have air condition but don’t expect them to.
- No proper lighting inside the bus at nights.
- Do NOT take one of these buses unless you are absolutely sure of where you are going. At times they become crowded and getting a view of outside may be not be possible
The Church of the Black Christ
Since living in Panama I have been to Portobelo twice. I enjoy coming here. The people are warm and friendly and the community is very peaceful. Not to mention the beautiful scenery of nature.
There are 2 forts and a museum within walking distance from the Church.
I was lucky one time when I visited Portobelo to witness a performance by these Folk Dancers. Another beautiful tradition of Panamanians.