Category Archives: Madagascar

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


Nosy Be, Madagascar

Nosy Be (means big island in Malagasy) is located an half mile off the Northwest coast of Madagascar – it’s 123.56 square miles and is the number one beach destination for the country.  Malagasy and French are spoken here.

The cruise boat offered a shuttle to the commercial district. The main street is lined with restaurants and larger stores where as the side streets are filled with small booths, one next to another as far as the eye scan see selling every type of goods (mostly from China) and food that you can imagine.  Tuk tuks swarm like bees.

Some shopkeepers squatted in their stores engulfed by their products while others sat out in front chit chatting with friends and family and enticing consumers to buy.

Along with a fellow cruiser (from Thailand by way of Santa Barbara) we hired a tuk-tuk for the ride to the “best “ beach.

The road was riddled with large pot holes. The tuk-tuks bobbed and weaved in a perfectly corrugated dance to avoid the volcano sized holes, occasionally being confronted by a massive truck approaching in the opposite direction. All this around a huge road construction project. Utter chaos.

The countryside is lush and tropical. Small wooden stick homes reveal poverty where most people live on the equivalent of $1 USD per day.

Suddenly hotels, restaurants and PADI dive shops started popping up a sign that we were getting closer to the beach.

The water is getting bluer as we head north but we’ve yet to see the turquoise water advertised on the internet.  Supposedly Nosy Be has offers that as well but traveling there required a drive longer than our time allowed. 

It was all exciting and colorful.