Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

Saturday, April 20, 2019

New York Day 4, Rainy Morning, Waitress the Musical - Matinee on Broadway, Saturday, April 20, WTRD 35 of 36

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New York Day 4, Rainy Morning, Waitress the Musical - Matinee on Broadway, Saturday,  April 20, WTRD 35 of 36

Today is our last full day in New York City. It started to rain last night and is supposed to rain until early afternoon.  We take advantage of staying out of the rain and indoors this morning to relax and for me to catch up on blog posting.  Late tomorrow morning, we will be catching a train at Penn station, three blocks from our studio.  We are headed to Essex Junction, just outside of Burlington Vermont, where we will be staying with our son and family until late May.

Russ and I eat last night's pizza leftovers for lunch and head for TIme Square at 1:00 pm.  We are going to see a Matinee at 2:00 pm just a block off Broadway and TIme Square.  THe rain has ceased and the streets are crazy crowded with pre-Easter-Sunday tourists.  We can't even imagine what it must be like here on New Year's eve as we walk single file through the shuffling crowds as we approach Time Square and 47th Street.  

We arrive at the theater just as they open the doors to the theater.  Russ and I bought our tickets online Thursday morning.  We are five rows from the front and almost center to see Waitress the musical starring Shoshana Bean and Jeremy Jordan.  We had a great time watching the play and the unfolding of the story.  

After the play we worked our way through the crowds back to our studio.  We plan to  eat at the Chocolate and Wine Bar across the street later this evening.....they have some other food too, but wine and chocolate sound like a perfect meal for our last night in New York.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's the last night in New York and Worrall Travel R  Day WTRD 35 of 36. 

New York Day 3, 9/11 Twin Towers Remembered, High Line Walk, Friday, April 19, WTRD 34 of 36

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New York Day 3, 9/11 Twin Towers Remembered, High Line Walk, Friday,  April 19, WTRD 34 of 36

We were up early again this morning and couldn't sleep in beyond 4:00 am.  Again we chose to walk south through Greenwich Village and Soho to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  We had tickets for an outside guided tour of the area where the twin towers once stood.  Our guide David was six years old when America's centers of commerce, military, and politics were being attacked by terrorists.  At a tender age, he learned about terrorism.  He became a historian of the 1970's and now works for the 9/11 Memorial organization.

The memorial is a powerful reminder of both extreme evil and extreme courage.  David walked us through the pre-history of the tragic day, the tragic day, and the personal stories of individuals whose names are engraved on the symbolized ponds where tears of water fall into an abyss of negative space.  Most of us were choked up and reliving that horrible day that changed our loss of innocence, the way we perceive the world, the loss of so many lives, and the unsung heroism of civilians and first responders who showed extraordinary courage.  

Today the memorial and the museum are a shining testimony of human resilience and hope.
I'll write more about this when I can post some photos with captions.  

The mood in the museum is quiet, reverent, and a flashback of terror for those of us who were old enough to remember the devastating attack.

We walked back to our studio along the Hudson River and the High Line (an abandoned overhead railway that has been converted to a green belt walking trail, providing a high ground perspective of the city.  We log in another 10 miles and our feet feel it.  We stop for pizza on the way home.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs in NYC

New York Day 2, Live with Kelly and Ryan, NY Metropolitan Museum, Thursday, April 18, WTRD 33 of 36

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New York Day 2, Live with Kelly and Ryan, NY Metropolitan Museum, Thursday,  April 18, WTRD 33 of 36

We slept well until we woke up around 4:30.  Not bad for the first night back. After our first back to normal breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit, we hailed a taxi for the ABC studio building where the Live with Kelly and Ryan is produced.  While we waited in the priority queue for seating, we met two ladies from Mystic, Connecticut.  One of them was a real fan, the other was a friend of the fan.  We enjoyed our conversation with them and in the end of the second show, the friend won a $500.00 gift certificate.  We were excited for her.

It is interesting to see the behind the set and scenes of a live show between commercial breaks.  The New York new car show is debuting this week, and there were three cars positioned on the set creating challenging logistics for the production crew.  Both Kelly and Ryan are small people.  Kelly is very tiny, almost twiggy like.  Watching their interactions with guests, audience, and production staff during the breaks was amusing.  There seemed to be a little discord going on between staff members during the first show and Kelly made it clear that she didn't want to hear them arguing. 

The staff is right there between breaks to fix up her makeup, comb her hair, hand her a jacket.  If Ryan drops something which he did, someone picks it up and places it on a low table so that it can easily be retrieved.  We were surprised how scripted  comments and quest questions were, each written out a cue card and held up for Kelly and Ryan to read and say.  We watched two shows.  Thursday was live.  Friday's show was live to us but taped for the following day, Good Friday.  Not sure if this was done because of a holiday weekend or simply because this always done for a Friday.  

In between shows the hosts change clothes and come out again.  The first show featured guests James Brolin, and the second show David Muir.  Russ really enjoyed the cars, all of which were SUVs, the 4 wheel drives of station wagons.  We had a good time and were out on the street in the real world by 11:30.

We walked through central park and enjoyed the spring feel of the day, and spent the rest of the day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, seeing only a fraction of the exhibits.  It is a very impressive place and we really enjoyed the American Art and the Egyptian artifacts.

On our walk  back to our studio apartment along the river and then up the avenues, we stopped at Toscana's Italian restaurant for an excellent dinner of lasagna and veal scallopini.  Russ and I as newlyweds (50 years ago) ate in an Italian Restaurant called Mama Leone's.  There was an older couple next to us who heard us discussing whether we could afford to buy some wine.  They gifted us a bottle.  So sweet.  Still brings tears to my eyes.  Unfortunately, Mama Leone's closed in 1994 with the hope of reopening in a new location, but it never did.  Our dinner at Toscanas was excellent.  Fifty years later we were still discussing whether we could afford to buy a bottle of wine.  Haha!  

We walked about 10 miles today.  

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in NYC

Travel Day 2, New York Day 1, April 17, WTRD 32 of 36

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Travel Day 2, New York Day 1,  April 17, WTRD 32 of 36

We arrive pre-dawn in Paris, where we clear through passport control and have to go through security all over again. Why we must do this again when we get off a plane that has been secured, immigration control which is secure, and an isolated passageway to the transfer gate I wonder.  We are tired of all the air flight checks.  Our bags fortunately were checked all the way through to JFK.  I wonder if they run the bags through another security check when they transfer them rom one airplane to another.

We will be following the westward sun on this flight and will be arriving in New York at 10:00 am in the morning on this day.  Still a bit groggy from our red eye flight sleeping pills.  Russ and I are asleep before the plane takes off.  We waken for brunch somewhere along the way, and have time to watch a movie before we land.  We gleefully go through global entry without any hassle and collect our bags, and leave.  We catch a taxi to our AirBnB on 31st street which is mid center to all the places we want to go.

We self-check into a small studio apartment, spend a few minutes unpacking and getting our devices charging, before taking off for a long walk.  After sitting for almost 24 hours, we need to move around.  We walk about 9 miles up to central park, and back along the river.  The air is fresh, tulips and spring flowers are blooming.  The trees in central park are just stating to leaf out.  It's a beautiful day.  We are trying to stay awake as long as we can so that we sleep through the night.  We are going to Live with Kelly and Ryan first thing in the morning.  We need to be there by 6:30 in the morning.

After our walk in that direction in the afternoon, we have decided to catch a Taxi about 6:00 am so that we get there in time.  We grab salads at the Subway down the street, and are in bed asleep by 9:00.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs back in America

Travel Day 1, Departure from South Africa, Homeward bound toward California, via Paris and New York, April 16, WTRD 31 of 36

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Travel Day 1, Departure from South Africa, Homeward bound toward California, via Paris and New York,  April 16, WTRD 31 of 36

We arrange for a late check out and spend a leisurely morning in our room, packing and catching up with emails.  Our repacked bags with our dried clothing and the gear we received from Margi, weigh about the same as they did when we left with our moisture soaked clothes from Madagascar.

Russ and I have planned some time to do some pre-flight shopping at the airport before the plane departs late in the afternoon.  We are excited to be going home.  It's been a great trip, but we are ready to set foot on American soil.  We take some sleeping pills, watch a movie, and sleep high above the African continent as we fly to Paris where we will change planes.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's Heading Home.

Madagascar Day 12, Departure from Antananarivo, Return to Johannesburg, South Africa, April 15, WTRD 30 of 36

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Madagascar Day 12, Departure from Antananarivo, Return to Johannesburg, South Africa,  April 15, WTRD 30 of 36

After breakfast, Hari collects us, along with boxed lunches from the hotel.  Hari had asked us the night before what types of souvenirs we are interested in.  We tell him that Russ would like a Madagascar flag pin for his hat, and National Soccer Team shirt.  I just wanted an ornament for our travel tree.  

When we get in the car, Hari presents a soccer shirt to Russ.  It is a small, but it is a gift.  Hari said he had to go into a dangerous part of town to buy it.  It was not a place he wanted to take us.  We also learn that there are no pins of Madagascar.  It is apparently against the law to have a pin as only government officials may wear them.  One man told Russ, if he wanted a pin he would have to take it off a policeman.  Aahh, no thanks.

Hari takes us on a tour of the city. We stop at the old train station for some photos and unexpected shopping. Hari said the shops inside were expensive, but we were wanting to go inside anyway, because it was quiet and cool.  We found several items that we thought were reasonably priced.  I think Hari thought the prices were reasonable as well, and he too appreciated the calm, wide open spaces to make purchases, totally unlike the local markets.  I am not sure he had even been in the building before.  We think he will be returning here with other clients in the future.

When Hari had dropped us off at the airport 12 days ago, we had to eat our boxed breakfast outside the airport checkin.  We were rushed and it was an unpleasant experience.  We ask Hari to stop under a shade tree on the way to the airport to eat our lunch in the car.  He graciously complied.  We ate our lunch, and when we arrived at the airport, we were fed and ready to check in.  We thanked Hari for his thoughtfulness and help and said our goodbyes to him and to Madagascar.

Our plane took off on time and we arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, returning to the Garden Court Hotel where we stayed the night before we left for Madagascar. The air was fresh and cool.  What a wonderful welcome.    Margi our Friendship Force Host in Cape Town had shipped about 15 lbs of our extra gear and clothes that we did not want to take on Safari or to Madagascar due to luggage restrictions.  The box was at the hotel when we arrived and we were relieved to be reunited with our stuff.

When we left Madagascar our luggage felt heavy.  In fact it was.  Our clothes had absorbed so much moisture from the humidity we must have been carrying 10 lbs of water.  When we got to the room, we opened our luggage, turned up the air conditioner, and hung our clothes everywhere to dry out before we packed them in the morning for our trip to New York.

We ate dinner at Rosie O'Grady's and went to bed.
All is Well With the Worrall Travel Rs back in South Africa

Madagascar Day 11, Departure from Tsara Komba and return to Antananarivo, Sunday, April 14, WTRD 29 of 36

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Madagascar Day 11, Departure from Tsara Komba and return to Antananarivo, Sunday, April 14, WTRD 29 of 36

It sprinkled during the night and there were lingering clouds. It was another 4:00 am morning and last chance to take photos with Isbjorn's guidance.  The here and there cloud cover once again created a challenge, but I appreciated the practice and guidance until the dawn started to lighten the sky.    The eastern horizon was laden with clouds and the brilliant colors of our sun were shrouded until the sun was fairly high in the sky.   Unlike yesterday, the sunrise was unremarkable.   Russ was  just making his way to the dining room as I headed back to our room to freshen up. 

We enjoyed our last breakfast with the friendly geckos and our morning hostess Emmaline who has beautiful, warm smile.  Russ takes a morning canoe paddle while I sit on a shaded deck by the sea and blog.  Russ returns to the room to rinse out his sweaty, salty bottom shorts and shirt and take his first shower of the day.  I follow shortly after and take my shower as the masseuse arrives with her assistant who carries the padded table balanced on his head.  He ducks down expertly to avoid the low hanging palm fronds  as he enters our terrace and sets up the massage table.  And our masseuse is Emmaline!

Everyone seems to have multiple job skills and responsibilities.  Tsiky is snorkel guide, nature guide, rum expert. Emmaline is hostess, wait server, and masseuse.  We set up a cooling fan on the shaded terrace, and Russ is first to get a massage.  He looks totally relaxed as Emmaline works her magic.  I am second in line.  By lunch time we are oiled and relaxed.

We settle our tab and fund the tip box, before departing at 3:00 pm for our boat ride to Nosy Be and plane back to capital, Eric and his family are also leaving on the same plane.  We take the first boat, followed by Eric and his party.  It was a good thing that we had a backup boat as our driver was not at Nosy Be when we arrived or after a nearly half hour wait.  There was room in Eric's van and they insisted we ride with them so we would get to the airport on time.  Despite this hiccup in our travels, all turned out well and we were grateful.

When we arrived in Antananarivo we were picked up from Hari, our initial arrival guide, and  transferred to our hotel in the middle of the capital city. The hotel is old and well kept even though it sits in the middle of a dilapidated section of town.  It was dark and mid evening by the time we arrived.  We checked into our room and immediately came downstairs to have dinner on the terrace overlooking the city.  We are tired and Hari will be picking us up early for a short city tour before he delivers us back to the airport for our flight to Johannesburg at 12:00 pm.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs our last night in Madagascar

Madagascar Day 10 , Astro photography, Sunrise -Anniversary Dinner, Tsara Komba, Saturday, April 13, WTRD 28 of 36

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Madagascar Day 10 , Astro photography, Sunrise -Anniversary Dinner, Tsara Komba, Saturday, April 13, WTRD 28 of 36

The rain finally stopped at 4:00 am when I got up to check the sky to see if it would be clear enough to photograph the Milky Way.  Isbjorn , one the camp managers, gets up early every morning to take astro photographs.  He has offered some coaching and a tripod for me to have a go at shooting the Milky Way.  The water drenched decks are slippery as I carefully pick my path to the main lodge at 4:15.  I can see some brilliant stars one moment that disappear a few seconds later as a veil of clouds and mist cover them over.  Isbjorn is already up and shooting what he can.  It's not the best of conditions.

The aperture on my Canon only goes down to 3.9.  Isbjorn says it would be better if it were a 2, so he bumps up the ISO from 3200 to 6400, and increases the time to 25 seconds for me to try. I am using an 18-55 mm zoom lens.  He suggests a 2.8 lens which he has for his camera. We turn off the image stabilizer, use manual focus which apparently difficult to adjust on my Canon lens which is not calibrated with an infinity setting, and set a 2 second delay.  Isbjorn is concerned that compensating with increased time, higher ISO, and inability to precisely focus, the photographs will be grainy and slightly blurred due to the movement of the earth’s rotation.     

We try several angles and shots.  There are still whisps of clouds in the predawn, post rain sky.   I think the shots are pretty good for my first go and my sub-standard astro photography camera.  He says astro-photographers will attach a star tracker gismo on their camera and tripod to track the star's position to compensate for the earth’s rotation.  I could see where this astrophotography could become a very expensive endeavor.

As the dawn approached we can see that the sunrise is going to be spectacular sunrise with the clearing in the east and rain clouds still exiting to the west, the morning light casts a pinkish reflective glow glow on the clouds opposite from the sunrise, and a briliiiant rainbow forms.  Wow!

After a morning of photography, Tsiky takes us on a tour of a local village.  Tsora Komba has created a complete micro community around the lodge by providing training and jobs for neighboring locals, and making sure that their village homes are  upgraded and easy to maintain, and their salaries a living wages so that the employed villagers can come to work and not worry about keeping the wood fires burning, and farming their own sustenance.  

The owner, Eric has explained all of this to us, but it  is more powerful to the fruits of th e labor.  School is on Easter Holiday, which is a conundrum to us in thie mostly Muslim village. Tsiky explains the Malagasy love holidays and celebrates all of them.  The teacher lets us into the kindergarten room, the only school directly in the village.  Elementary and secondary students have about an hour’s walk for students.  Even with help and financial assistance from Tsara Komba, the school room still needs more help.  The toys and books look well worn and are tired.

Both to and from the village, we collect a couple of bags of plastic and other miscellaneous trash.  Our walk in the village is followed by cold showers, lunch, and a relaxing afternoon.  Russ reads, I download and edit photos. I am excited to be nearing the ned of the uber photography, and looking forward to sharing my astro photos with Isbjorn this evening.

4:30 we are going on a sunset, sundowner cruise to the mangroves.  Tsiky and Celan take us to the mangroves.  We enjoy great conversation and music with the two of them, imbibe on o tropical rum drink and watch the sun drop in the sky.  Sunset tonight is not nearly as dramatic as sunrise this morning.

When we return to our lodge  after dark, the staff has set up a private white clothing dining table for us on our terrace.   We had mentioned to them it was our 50th wedding anniversary year, and they wanted to help us celebrate.  Before dinner, however, we wanted to return to the main lodge to meet up with Tsiky to taste some of her flavored rums.  She also wanted to see photos of our boat.  It is dark in our room as we gather our gear.  Russ disconnects the computer from the computer, but doesn’t see that the my disk drive is tethered with a usb to the computer.  He picks it up and the disk drive dangles momentarily and drops to the floor.  Oh $#%t!.  And of course it is damaged, makes a sad beep, beep, and cannot be read by the computer.  There goes all the downloaded photos and editing work I had done.  I am sick!

Good thing I have the SD cards for all the photos, but I can’t even describe how upset I am that all the hours I have spent organizing and editing have been lost!  And that I will need to start from scratch.  This was also my media backup drive to my main drive at home.    As if it weren’t humid enough here, this accident really put a damper on the evening.  Maybe the photos can be recovered when I return home.  It would certainly save me a lot of time and grief.  I've learned that once I return from travels, my time is so consumed with other activities, photo editing is not something I want to spend time on. Ugh!

Our private  dinner was lovely, and passion fruit cake was a special treat made for us by the chef.  Because our lodge was away from the main lodge, there were considerable gaps between courses.  I was able to take a 15 minute nap  on the terrace lounge between main course and dessert.

We leave tomorrow, so we spend some time after dinner and yet another shower, to do some organizing and packing before lights out.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Madagascar

Madagascar Day 9 , Snorkeling at Marine Preserve Tanakely, Friday, April 12, WTRD 27 of 36

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Madagascar Day 9 , Snorkeling at Marine Preserve Tanakely, Friday, April 12, WTRD 27 of 36

After another gecko breakfast, we leave shortly after 8:15 for our morning excursion.  Tseky will not be joining us this morning.  We have a new skipper Joe1, and a new guide Guide Joe 2   There is a high overcast and chop on bay as we depart. It takes about 15 minutes to jet over to Tanakely Island and Marine Reserve.  The island is small with a now-unused light house at the top.  We climb to to the top of the island up to the Light house.  A well constructed concrete path and steps leads up to the interpretative center and overview.  On our way up, Joe 2 spies a couple of lemurs in the backlit forest.  These guys are a shy and we can only see their silhouette.  After our look about on top, we head back down.

We are in a marine reserve where the there is beautiful clear water for snorkeling.  Coral here is in much better condition than at Mamoko, but still suffering from warming temperatures.  We see three sea turtles, clams, wrasse, parrot fish, angel fish, butter fish, damsels, bonita and many more.    I wore my deep purple rash guard shirt.  A purple parrot fish, was attracted to me.  I may have looked like big purple playmate.    He/she was 2 meters down nibbling on coral when he/she spotted me.

I was a little freaked out as one of these fish had nipped my leg in Samoa when I was wading in the sea and had gotten too close to his territory.  This fish swam straight up from the bottom and right up to my scuba mask and touched it with his mouth, looked me straight in the eye before losing interest and swimming away. Guess I wasn't that interesting after all.   Curious behavior from a curious fish.  

We snorkeled for over an hour, had a snack, and returned to the lodge by noon.  It was a great morning.  We returned for a super lunch of grilled zebu, quinoa salad, grilled zucchini and baby corn, creme brulee.  The chef at Tsoara Komba is wonderful.

Russ and I spent another lazy afternoon, on the double chaise, reading and watching the clouds form and turn dark grey over the bay.  We hear a rumble of thunder and think about postponing a canoe paddle.

After dinner, the sky and clouds decide to entertain us with lightning, thunder, and a torrential downpour in the middle of the night until the wee hours of the morning.

The dry river bed next to our lodge becomes a raging river and the roar awakens me.  My right foot is wet from a leak in the ceiling.  My cameras are in a dry bag on the desk, thankfully, as the desk is covered with moisture from the open windows and the blowing wind.  We get up and shutter the window over the desk.  The last time we saw a downpour like this was in American Samoa.  Friends came to visit us on the boat wearing their swim suits, diving masks and snorkels,  and we could fill up our water tanks with rain water in a matter of minutes.

I wonder when we finally go back to bed if all of the tropical blossoms will be on the ground in the morning.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs in Madagascar

Madagascar Day 8 , Nosy Komba, Island Tour Mamoko and Kisimany, Thursday, April 11, WTRD 26 of 36

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Madagascar Day 8 , Nosy Komba,  Island Tour Mamoko and Kisimany, Thursday, April 11, WTRD 26 of 36

Our breakfast table this morning is crawling with 4 or more emerald green Geckos with blue eyebrows.  These Geckos all named George because they all the look the same, have learned that fruit juices, jams, and honey are a delightful way to start the day.  They are very friendly and their tiny tongues will lick the honey right off your finger, a delightful way to start our morning too.

At 8:15 Our first activity excursion begins.  Tseky (Teak) is our snorkel and naturalist guide. We are fit with mask, snorkel, and fins.  Celan is our boat skipper.

Stop. 1:   Nosy (Island) Mamoka Village is home to  friendly black lemurs, at least the males are all black.  The females are brown and the leaders of the clan.  Fittingly in this village, a queen, not a chief is also the leader of the village. She makes sure there is law and culture standards are adhered too.  We take photos of the Lemurs, repairs being made on a fishing net, a large friendly land tortoise, and visit a large baobab tree which is considered sacred and channel to the ancestors.  When making a prayer, a wish, or penitence, locals bring offerings of fruit, flowers, or rum to the tree.

Stop 2:  We cruise by an island(s) that is all one during low tide and two during high tide.  A supply and people taxi is picking up residents.

Stop 3:  We snorkel in the water across from this island on another island where the water is easily 80 degrees and it is like swimming in soup.  There is some coral but the water is too warm and it looks unhealthy.  The tidal flow is stirring up sediment and the water is not clear. We see a few fish, but their colors are clouded by the water.

Stop 4. Pique Nique on Kisimany.  We come to a private cove with nice buildings, and covered table.  The owners of the property visit every two years, and in the meantime there is a local care taker who oversee the property and opens it to guests for picnics.  As we approach the beach landing, the boat  motor wraps itself in some underwater fishing  net.  It takes Celan a good half hour to cut away at the entangled mess and to free up the motor.  A gentle rain falls as we sit down for lunch. Tsiky has set the table with a white cloth, chilled wine, curried fish kebabs, couscous, shredded cabbage, pasta-smoked fish salad, chocolate brownies.  It’s quite upscale from our usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and raw vegetables.  We eat first, then our guide, skipper, and grounds keeper, eat after us. We would have enjoyed their company if we had all eaten together.   While the crew eats, Russ and I wander along the beach collecting trash.  We visit a beautiful  baobab, tree and return to Tsara Kombo by 3;00 pm.

We shower and spend a lazy afternoon hanging out on our terrace. For dinner we have lamb shoulder in light pastry. The sky lights up with an  evening, thunder and lightning storm.  But we have only a few minutes of hard rain late night, early am.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs in Madagascar