Seasoned travelers – Harry, Shirley, Jean, Mary Beth, Frank, Greg
We woke up on Friday morning at the Southern Cross Hotel in Ft. Dauphin to the sound of rain, not just a little rain but a deluge. It lasted about 20 minutes. Since the roof of the hotel is metal, it was like being inside a drum with the percussionist in full peradiddle.
Our room overlooked the hotel’s garden courtyard, a better view than the other direction that opened onto a graveyard for dead cars and trucks. Zoning is a concept awaiting full adoption in Madagascar. The rain came down so fast that the courtyard soon had an inch of standing water. Then the rain stopped and the water disappeared into the ground.
This was the first real rain we had experienced in this trip. We planned the visit for October because is it before the onset of the rainy season. Our reward has been sunny days for three weeks. It was good to see what a rainy day can be like. I thought of all the people we had seen who live in simple huts surrounded by dirt and dust. A deluge like the one this morning would turn their neighborhood into a sea of mud, which presumably would be a delight for the kids but a pain for everyone else.
Ironically, while the rain was teeming outside, the water system inside shut down. Nothing but a dribble came out of the faucet. The main water line had broken. The water went off and on for the next several hours while the main was being fixed. Taking a shower was a risk. After all, you could get all lathered up with no way to rinse. We learned later that one of the other travelers at the hotel had been caught in just that state of suds. She had gotten her hair all soapy and ready for the rinse and then, no water at all. Her husband had to organize some buckets of water so she could finish her shampoo, which will surely be one of the more memorable of her life.
Then the skies cleared, the water came back on, we had lunch, and then we were off for the airport to see if Air Mad would cooperate once again and get us to Tana. It did and we arrived back in the capital just a bit late, luggage and all.
After a celebratory dinner at a nearby restaurant, we declared the trip to be officially over. The Almedas left for a visit to one more botanical preserve and the Hageys and Farringtons began the process of repacking to get ready to go to the airport and fly to Paris over Saturday night.
It will take a long time to digest all that we saw and experienced in our three weeks here.