She’s our neighbor, and a very good friend. She and her hubby moved to Panama for a year, where he’s teaching school at the American school. They really seem to like it there, and I enjoy listening to her telling us about the place.
Two things have occurred to me. One is that Panama was the site of one of the most infamous–or perhaps more accurately, two of the most infamous raids by British pirates. Sir Francis Drake was there first and stole all the gold and silver he could get his mitts on, and it was substantial. Then, in 1672, about a century later, Henry Morgan arrived. He attacked from the east, having sailed up the Rio Chagres in his ship Satisfaction. Panama, inpregnable except for this direction–the sea, swamps, and other natural barriers were and remain prohibitive–yet was vulnerable across a bridge from the east. All the Panamanians had to do was wait for Morgan and his troops to cross the bridge and then pick them off like, in the words of cliche, shooting fish in the barrel.
However, incomprehensibly, the Spaniards crossed the bridge to meet Morgan, where they were picked off without mercy. Morgan went on to sack the town, also without mercy. He stole, for example, a life-size statue of the Virgin, cast from solid gold. But he took all the gold and silver he could find and raced back across the Atlantic.
Let’s deal with the second note about Panama tomorrow.