This is the true story of two people's honeymoon. It is a story of dastardly tour reps and angelic customer relations staff, it is a story of laughter, of tears and ultimately of redemption. Not so much a story of one honeymoon as of love and struggle and of life itself. Anyone who has ever taken a plane, swum in a pool or breathed air should read this account.

All the pictures that are linked here can also be found on their very own page.

Our honeymoon started at four thirty a.m. on Monday the 20th of June. We got up, ready for the quarter to five taxi to the bus station, then the National Express up to Gatwick. It set off on time, but somewhere along the way got delayed, and I was counting down as we approached Gatwick toward the deadline of arriving two hours before check in. Without too much of a rush we were there five minutes before the deadline (although they kept taking check-ins for a while after that, as we were able to see), and there was no queue. We stepped up to the desk and handed over the passports and tickets.

“Do you have a visa?”

At this point things started to go wrong. We’d checked on the internet, and it had said that Romanians, like English people, could get visas on arrival. But Daniela isn’t just a Romanian, she’s a Romanian in England, and without indefinite leave to remain she needs a visa. The fact that she can stay until 2009 doesn’t apparently make a difference. We waited at the desk for half an hour while they checked. Daniela was in tears. Then they confirmed that, yes, we really couldn’t go and that was that.

We went to the Thompson desk and got the telephone number of the embassy and started calling it. No-one was home. They were open from 10 until 2, and we would need to send them proof of address and proof of where Daniela worked. We stowed the bags with a luggage company and headed in to London.

En route Daniela made some phone calls. Barclays said it would take five working days to fax bank statements with proof of address, so she phoned home instead, and got mum and dad on the case. She also called the hospital, and asked her boss for a letter confirming she did work there.

The embassy was a town house down a random street, opposite a school. Inside a single room was the reception with a nice guy. He said he had got the faxes, which might have seemed a little strange to him before we turned up to explain them, or maybe he gets that kind of thing a lot. We asked for a visa, and he said it normally takes three weeks, but that we should come back in an hour.

In fact when we came back in an hour he needed another piece of information from Daniela’s passport, so he seemed to get us the visa in about ten minutes. The only other matter was handing over £130.

While we were waiting we’d made some more calls. Barclays insurance told us we couldn’t claim for missing the flight as it had been delayed, and didn’t seem to care about visas or misleading internet sites. That was just round one in the battle, but we resolved to return to it later. We also toyed with getting a card for the embassy guy, but in the end ran out of time. Thompson told us that there was another flight from Gatwick in two days, or one from Birmingham tomorrow. We’d have to pay for the ticket. Once we had the visa we phoned them back saying we’d take the Birmingham flight. To the trains!

Gatwick express to Gatwick, pick up the luggage, single to Birmingham for two, back on the Gatwick express to Victoria (knew the route quite well by then), tube then a lovely Virgin train from Euston. We were quite tired by now, having got up twelve hours earlier expecting a fairly relaxing day. But there you go.

In Birmingham we needed a hotel for the night. We’d called Alina who’d kindly offered us a place for the night, but spending the first night of your honeymoon with friends just didn’t seem right. We headed to the airport, using the logic that where you find airports you also find hotels. We weren’t disappointed, there was one right over the road, and a very nice one at that.

Classily, we paused by the door on seeing the price, steeled ourselves for the financial hit and went for it. The room was pretty posh, they had a whole box of tissues that were very good, so we took it. And we had our first meal of the honeymoon. It was nice, if slightly muted by the fact that we were shattered, in the Midlands instead of the Caribbean, and that tomorrow we’d have to do the whole journey again, hopefully this time a little more successfully.

Seven o’clock in the morning, and we crossed the road with our bags. This time check in was fine, Daniela even remembered to ask for vegetarian meals.

“Did you order a meal for the flight?”

“They didn’t give us an option. Is it possible to be on an aeroplane for nine hours and not to be given food?”

I’d never been on a flight where they didn’t give you food. On a forty minute flight to Paris they brought round a snack. Did they really lock people in a metal tube for nine hours without feeding them! We brought ourselves some sandwiches.

Also at the airport we brought a guide to the Dominican Republic, to find out a little bit more about where we were going. The first thing we noticed was that it was the rainy season. A little guide showed bright sun from October through to April, then rain from May until September, with the hurricane season in late summer. Why did no-one mention it was the rainy season! It was summer dammit! So it was possible there was going to be a torrential downpour when we got there. We braced ourselves, and assured ourselves once again that the important thing was that we were together, whatever happened.

It also told us that the local currency was Dominican Republic pesos. Apparently they had their whole own currency! I’d got ninety US dollars in Gatwick for emergency money, but it turned out that it was different. Oh well, I thought they could probably be used.

On the flight they were coming around with the food. I sat expectantly, wondering what would happen. We were given meals! However, we didn’t just need meals, we needed vegetarian ones. So I asked.

“Did you request a vegetarian meal?” They replied.

“No, actually they said we might not get anything at all. See we were supposed to fly from Gatwick yesterday…”

They took our meals away. But they did come back a few minutes later, complete with a veggie option, all freshly heated just for us.

The films were Oceans twelve, which I actually wanted to see, and Bridget Jones II, which is one of Daniela’s favourites. The sound wasn’t perfect, but I got what was going on in Ocean’s twelve, and we already knew all the words to Bridget Jones.

Bizarre feeling having been in the same seat for nine hours. Especially as we were flying with the sun, so it was a really long day. Felt like when we landed we could be just about anywhere. We could be back in Birmingham, having turned round half way without being told. I hoped we hadn’t.

Land, when it appeared about four seconds before landing, was covered with palm trees. We stepped out into a pleasingly warm airport, the tropical feel of air that hadn’t quite been air-conditioned down to the requested temperature. We were on holiday.

The airport came complete with a little merengue band, but they were on the other side of a glass barrier, so we couldn’t tip them even if we wanted to. Posters with huge blue dolphins lined the walls, inviting us to Ocean World. A porter very kindly took our bags to the coach, and I was on the ball enough to tip him with two of our US dollars. He asked for five. I gave them to him. It was slightly strange to have spent an eighteenth of our cash already, but I knew that once were in the comfortable bosom of the all inclusive hotel, things would be fine.

The transfer was confusingly by a company called Hotel Beds. Now I’d booked with Last Minute. The tickets, when they had come, had been Thompson flight tickets, and the hotel we were staying at was Bahia Principe. We didn’t know who Hotel Beds was, but apparently they were going to their hotel, so we got on board. Once we were sitting, the conductor asked us for our transfer ticket. “What transfer ticket?”

Now when the tickets had arrived I’d been a little disconcerted to discover the words ‘No Accommodation Booked’ across the page where, apparently, the accommodation detail should have gone. This warranted a phone call where I received reassurance that I was indeed booked in to the hotel, but it was a separate company so the flight tickets didn’t mention it. I was reassured. But it did mean I didn’t have any piece of paper telling me anything about the hotel.

We gave the conductor the covering letter that had come with the flight tickets and he seemed satisfied. The bus left.

The country side was covered in palm trees, classically tropical. Houses were mainly breeze blocks, roofed in corrugated iron or palm leaf thatch. There was little glass; windows were either shutters or grills. The roads were bumpy, just like in Romania. The journey continued for an hour past the same scenery. Occasionally the Caribbean would appear on the left, vivid blue with waves breaking. We saw windsurfers out there, and kite boarders, who looked very cool.

After an hour of passing poor villages, we saw a helipad on the left. The turning for it was the entrance to our hotel. We’d arrived.

Stepping through reception, our from the air conditioned bus and into the tropical heat, was amazing. Reception was a large open room, with no door. One side faced the road, through the other we could see the main pool, beautiful blue, full of holiday makers and surrounded by palms. This was what it was all about.

The hotel asked for our ticket, but without even a covering letter to give them we had to explain we hadn’t been sent one, so they looked for our reservation. We explained that they should look under reservations for the day before, because we’d had some trouble with visas. I think they could tell that we were going to be very special guests for them.

We dumped our stuff, got changed, and headed out to start our holiday.

Next day we got things organised. There were six restaurants in the hotel. Well, it was more of a ‘complex’, or a ‘resort’. Everyone stayed in small blocks, one or two stories high, with maybe ten rooms in each. Winding paths led between them all, edged with hedges with bright red flowers. Anyway, one of the restaurants was the main one, it had buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another was a wonderful place that served pizza and chips all day long. Just go along and get some when you feel like it. How perfect! It also did hotdogs and burgers, for the meat eaters. The other four were real restaurant restaurants, an Italian, a Mexican, a seafood place and a Mediterranean. We booked up our next week with visits to each.

We also had a little presentation from our rep, Elido, on the excursion opportunities. There was whale watching, but not this time of year. There was a two hundred and fifty dollar per head flight to Isla Sorna, but we passed on that. We were more tempted by a helicopter ride and a trip to the main city, Puerto Plata, but they were rejected as they required a taxi ride and more people to book them respectively. We did go for Northern Highlights – a tour of a fort, amber museum, rum factory, cigar factory before sun bathing on Sosua beach; Outback Safari – a tour of a typical Dominican house, boat trip, boogie boarding and playing in a river; Ocean World – tigers, birds, sharks and swimming with Dolphins; and Freestyle Catamaran – boat trip and snorkelling. Of these the highlight would be the dolphins, whom we would get to swim with.

Then we settled down for our first day by the pool. There was sun but also clouds, and later on it rained. This, apparently was what the rainy season meant. Our first impression had been set by our first sight of the sun drenched pool, but the rest of the holiday would follow the pattern of that first day, some rain, and some hours of sun. But when it rained, it really rained. By the end of the week we had learnt that when you feel those first drops, you find some cover. We got great amusement at watching people caught in the downpour. It was good clean fun though, it was constantly so warm that everything dried in a few minutes.

The Northern Highlights trip took us to a fort with some old cannons and a beautiful view of the bay, a trip to a rum factory which consisted solely of showing us an advert for the company in a screening room, then seeing the bottling production line, which was impressive, then the gift shop. We got some rum, and a set of dominoes for Granddad. The we went to a jewellery shop, which showed us a little about how they made stuff, then gave us the chance to buy the Dominican Republic’s specialities: amber and ‘larimar’ a blue stone found only there. We dutifully obliged. We also made our first attempts at haggling.

“That’s £108”

“Shall we call it a round hundred?”

“Eight pounds is nothing to you, but it means a lot here.”

“Oh. OK.”

The highlight of the jewellery shop was getting a piece of amber with an insect stuck in it, like in Jurassic Park. A real film buff’s accessory. I raved to Ruth by text.

After that we went to an amber museum where they showed us that all kinds of crap gets caught in amber, not just flies; we saw scorpions and millipedes. It segued into the cigar factory, where we saw someone chopping up the leaves and making cigars, and Daniela tried a vanilla flavoured one and found it was really rather nice. We brought a set. Last stop was Sosua beach, but by then it was raining, a real tropical storm. The guide stopped the bus and asked if anyone wanted to get out, but no-one did.

And there was lunch, where they pulled a fast one. You get all your food free and one free drink. So what would you like? We had Sprites. Then the brought the free drink, which was fruit juice, then they brought our Sprites. Bastards. In the garden there was a huge tree.

That showed up a recurring issue during the holiday: money. More specifically, cash. I had US$90 that I had taken out at Gatwick, but the first trip used most of that. In fact, we had used so much that we no longer had the US$40 that you needed to leave the country. We needed money. The reception had an exchange so I strode up with my visa card and asked for some. They couldn’t give me US dollars. In fact, they couldn’t give me pesos off visa either, but there was a cash machine down the road.

The cash machine looked normal enough, and gave me instructions in English. The first strange thing was looking at the amounts it offered. These varied from £1 up to £12, once you had divided by fifty to change from pesos to pounds. Maybe this country was poor, or maybe they just wanted to sting for commission charges. I took out £12 ($600).

Did you spot that? The symbol for Dominican pesos is the dollar symbol. This gets confusing when shops either take pesos or take US dollars. Which currency is it in? With a factor of twenty five between them it shouldn’t have been too hard, but I did find myself stumbling in one shop.

Next day I went back to the cash machine, but none of the buttons worked. Later still they kind of worked, but when I asked it to give me ‘any other amount’ it was as though someone invisible was pressing the ‘7’ key repeatedly. When I tried to cancel it and get my card out it stopped accepting anything, timed out and beeped at me, asking if I wanted to continue. I pressed yes, but it didn’t recognise that either, until it eventually spat my card out.

So it was erratic, but occasionally I did manage to get pesos, which I took to reception, ready to get the US dollars we needed to get home. They couldn’t give me any. When they said exchange, what they really meant was, give us foreign currency, in hard cash only, and we give you pesos. We couldn’t get dollars there.

At this point I should probably mention two things that were very good in a not-being-negative way: that I wasn’t sunburnt and didn’t have an upset stomach.

Anyway, the next trip was the Outback Safari on Saturday, and it was wonderful. Our guide was George, and he was really good fun. We rode around in an open top truck, all very swish in tiger colours with padded black bars around us. It was so much fun to ride past villages and palm trees with the wind in your hair. After the sitting behind air conditioned windows before, this made you feel so much more part of the place.

We saw a ‘typical’ house, which they thankfully didn’t pretend was typical. They had another angle: Outback Safari had installed a solar panel, so they had a hifi and TV they could use. In return for having guests round for a year, they got to keep the panels. So we were helping the locals. They also drove us past schools they sponsored, and explained how the hospital was open two days a week. You needed to get ill on those days. And we saw some local flora.

All the way through they gave out Sprites, and Cokes, or rum and cokes, which they made by pouring coke on the floor and topping up from a rum bottle. They collected all the bottles up as they went. Between that and the solar panels, they were pretty eco friendly.

We paddled in a river and had lunch where there were some dancing girls. Daniela said they were very pretty, and I agree with her. They also had a crocodile there, in with two iguanas. I took the necessary photographs.

After lunch we went boogie boarding on Sosua beach. It was nice to make it there after it had been rained off on the trip before. As everyone else jumped into the waves we set our stuff down on the beach and proceeded to cover every inch of my body in suntan lotion. I’d missed my right knee the day before and it had turned bright red, just giving Daniela a taste of what sun burn looked like.

Boogie boarding was great, the water was amazingly warm, and we had so much fun. One wave we both caught together, and looked across at each other as we were carried towards the sun soaked, palm speckled shore.

We got back in the trucks, but by then the rum and cokes had loosened our tongues, and it was discovered that we, along with two other couples, were honeymooners among the three trucks that had gathered at the beach. They called us out to pour water over us.

There were the obligatory souvenirs offered, and knowing that the proceeds were helping towards the schools we passed you could really refuse. We got a T-shirt and a hat. Back in the trucks I was glad to get out of the sun. Then the trucks stopped after only a couple of minutes and we were all ordered out. We were doing the boat trip now.

This took me by surprise, and I was on the boat (I tripped over on the way in, the floor was at different levels in different places) before I could really think about bringing either sun cream, or even that hat that I’d just brought. Other people were wearing their new acquisitions.

The trip was down a river through reeds. George was quite for this part, talking to the people up front, although he did point out one large house as we passed. It belonged to Canadians, he said. We’d seen this before, on the Northern Highlights, that everyone knew who the big houses belonged to. Someone asked how much it cost, and he said half a million, US. That’s about two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, I thought, and is the very bottom of the market in some places in the UK. So it goes.

The boat finally landed back where we’d had lunch, surprisingly, and the truck was waiting to me us. But my hat wasn’t. The truck had been driven here, and the hat, most likely, had blown out. The T-shirt was still just where it was. This was slightly strange, because I’d managed to lose the item before paying for it. Not having any cash, I was going to visit my friend the cash machine once we’d got back. It felt strange to maybe have to pay for something I didn’t even have. We looked around, and Daniela spotted a hat in someone’s bag, which embarrassed her greatly when it turned out of course to be their hat. The loud American guide from one of the other trucks told us to look in our bags, but clearly it wasn’t there. George very kindly gave me another hat. I saw the popper on it was broken, but kept quiet, it was a fair compromise and I resolved to take better care of things. The fuss caused by the search had been quite enough. George later apologised for the American, his boss, asking people to look in his bag. George was really nice.

On the way back, once more in the truck, something hit me in the eye. Not hard, maybe a bird dropping, I thought, but it was just water. Then another, then another. In thirty seconds it was bucketing down. The roof had been put up at lunch time, luckily, but George still raced to the front to secure a shield between the cab and the roof. Everyone took out their towels to protect their backs, and there was a wonderfully good natured feeling about having had a beautiful day, and a well rounded one.

On getting back I discovered that the boat trip had been a trip too far, and that my shoulders were completely burnt. The cream we had so carefully applied on the beach had been washed off by the waves, and the sun on the boat, even through my shirt had pretty much cooked them. Oh, to have remembered to take my hat.

After that there was some more lazing in the sun, the only questions being when to get up for pina coladas, which Daniela developed a taste for, or when to pop in the pool. We both read; I got through quite pleasing numbers of books, the kind I’d been meaning to read for ages. Daniela alternated between reading and simply lying there getting tanned. After a week she looked like she’d been carved out of mahogany. I could have been used to land aeroplanes, or keep ships from crashing into the coast.

The entertainers were amazing, everything was done in four languages: Spanish, English, French and German. They seemed to have no problem jumping between them. There were all manner of games, darts, water polo, football, aerobics… It was like how Butlins always dreamed of being, with an outdoor pool people actually wanted to swim in, and food and entertainment that was actually good. Daniela did the aerobics one day, but that was it for the both of us. Otherwise it was lazing all the way.

We invested in some after sun from the hotel shop which thankfully took visa. It took as much of it as possible when Daniela decided to buy another swimming costume, having only brought one two-piece with her. The number of pesos was really quite large, even after I had divided by fifty to get it into pounds. I think Daniela is now the proud owner of a fifty quid swimming costume.

We also wrote some postcards, on the Monday, fully a week before we got home, to make sure we would beat them back. But we needed cash for stamps, and we didn’t have any. We finally posted them on the Thursday before we left on the Monday, and there’s still no sign of them.

Monday was also quite exciting. On Tuesday we were going to Ocean World. Tomorrow we would swim with the dolphins.

So we were surprised to get a phone call from our rep Elido at six o’clock that night to say that there had been a double booking. We weren’t getting the ‘dolphin swim’, we would get the ‘dolphin encounter’ which we were assured was also good. It didn’t sound as good, however. It sounded like you got to see dolphins through glass or something. Daniela was not happy.

He’d phoned us, we couldn’t get him back, so we went to the hotel. There a very nice girl, called Jenny, got us Elido’s boss, who said this happens sometimes, and not to worry. I was very forceful (so says Daniela, not me). I pointed out that this was breach of contract, that we should have compensation. They were implacable, but during our arguments the lovely Jenny found out we were on honeymoon.

Elido had told us to leave our ticket at reception and he would be at the hotel later that night to put the new one through the door. We kept our ticket, but as we went to bed we found that Elido had put a note through our door. It said that if we didn’t take the downgrade we might not be going on the trip at all. We ignored it.

In the morning the bus turned up, and everyone got on. But not us. We weren’t on the list. We had been taken off the list! The rep on the bus checked our ticket, and made some calls, before letting us on. Not a happy ride.

Once there I presented by ticket, ready for it to be turned into the wrist band we would wear for the day. The ticket still said dolphin swim, and I thought, hey, it isn’t over to til the fat lady sings. Sure enough, they’d had a cancellation we could swim after all. I went to tell Daniela, and we could relax and have a lovely day.

We swam with the dolphins first. This was tough for Daniela, who’d never swum in water out of her depth. We were in a huge dolphin enclosure, in an artificial lagoon separated from the Atlantic by a huge stone wall, then partitioned. While we had life jackets on, it was a big step. They also started with the scariest, and coolest trick. You would swim out, make a T with you arms and hold out your hands, then two dolphins would swim into your hands. You’d grip the dorsal fins and be pulled along for a dolphin ride! I did this, but it freaked Daniela out too much and she passed. Sitting on the edge, dry, before we’d even been in the water, waiting for your turn to swim. I remembered back to the abject terror of school swimming lessons and sympathised. The rest of the swim was nicer we all got in and did various tricks. The dolphins swam past us for us to stroke, they brought us a fish, which we took, then they can back for us to feed them. We tapped our hands on the water and the dolphins reared up and danced and sang in front of us. The dolphins kissed us. It was lovely, quite unique.

Afterwards we saw the tigers, went in the aviary and saw lots of lovely birds, saw people swimming with sharks (or at least stroking the sharks on their laps) and saw stingrays, and all manner of other fish, and piranhas at feeding time.

Now Daniela and I had been having a discussion about exactly how strict vegetarians we should be. When we met we were strict in different ways. I would still eat meat once or twice a week, but no fish. Daniela wouldn’t eat meat at all, but still ate fish. We settled on the strictest version – vegetarian all the time and no fish. But Daniela was still eager to eat fish as it was so healthy. And as the seafood in the Dominican Republic was so nice, especially the skewers at the sea food restaurant in the hotel, that for the duration of the holiday we agreed to eat fish.

Small white fish were dropped into the piranha tank, one by one. They were still alive, and could swim around a little, but very slowly. They would be noticed by one of the piranhas, who were much larger, and would just swim over and take a bite. Then others would follow. Sometimes a single bite would sever the fish in two. All that was left by the end was a hazy white cloud in the water. Daniela was repulsed, and I’d never seen anything like it. We resolved not to eat fish. We’d stop just as soon as we got back to England.

When we got back to the hotel lovely Jenny had been at work. They’d erected a four poster thing with drapes around our bed, and given us a bottle of rum, a basket of fruit and two hotel T-shirts. We got stuck in, and drank some of the rum but then left it, as we could get drinks anywhere in the hotel. (For the rest of the week the rum level gradually went down, after the maid had been in to clean the room).

The next day we had an apology from Elido. It was a lovely bunch of flowers, along with a basket of fruit, and two more hotel T-shirts, giving us four in total. That made me laugh. To thank them we got both Elido and Jenny a bottle of wine. But buying anything at all had become difficult by that point.

We needed dollars. We couldn’t leave without them. The place to get them, apparently, was Cabarte, the next town down. To get there we need to take a taxi and for that, you guessed it, you needed dollars. This catch 22 was resolved by explaining it to the driver, who duly dropped us at the bank. They didn’t have dollars, but did give out peso at more than £12 per time, so I got a good load, and the next bank had dollars to change. I don’t even want to think about the exchange rate.

But having money in our pocket we could go to town. We brought all the touristy things that they sold in every touristy shop. The complete list is:

·         Taino art (the island’s indigenous Indians, wiped out by settlers)

·         Mahogany sculptures

·         Cigars

·         Rum

·         Merengue CDs

·         Notebooks with palm trees on the cover

·         Amber

·         Larimar

We had a dolphin of a time. It was fascinating to get a new perspective on everything. Cabarte is a centre for windsurfing and tourism in general, and there were loads of excursions being offered. Some make the grade, like the ones we went on, and get offered as package tours, others have to fight it out here in the wilderness. There are lots of packages with open top trucks, painted like animals. The Outback Safari we went on is apparently a tried and tested format. But from inside the hotel you don’t realise.

Such a nice feeling to have lots of shops and few tourists, everywhere else we’d been had been the opposite. We even haggled, and knocked some money off what we brought. That was fun too. On returning Mum said you should start at about 1/3 of the asking price when haggling. I was starting at more like 80%, but there you go. 

We had a pina colada in a bar and it was glorious, thick and creamy and so tasty. The ones in the hotel had been fine, but this one put them to shame.

We walked up and down Cabarte main street for a few hours, shopping and looking at things. People would call us into their shops, and at first we went, but later on declined, saying we’d already done our shopping. That didn’t seem to be a deterrent though, instead of suggesting that we had no money, it suggested we were willing to spend it. In particular, our friend Cheapy Cheapy George (as he introduced himself) who was lovely, and who we gave his first sale of the day. We brought a gaudy Taino Indian picture, that may or may not ever see the light of day, but he was so nice and fun it seemed a shame to walk away. Daniela, he said, could pass for a Dominican.

Daniela also had her eye on a lovely carved black CD rack, sold in one of the shops in the hotel. But it would have cost US$120, and been a bugger to transport, and I wanted to keep our last US$120, just in case.

Then there was more lazing around, before the catamaran trip. It was fine, slightly wasted on us as Daniela wasn’t that into boats, nor snorkeling in water out of her depth. But we sunbathed, and I swam a little. In fact the best bit was on the way back, after everyone had had lots of cocktails, and there was a good old singsong on the coach. Starting with the classic “Stop the bus we need a wee wee” (to the tune of Glory Glory Halleluiah) then diversifying into Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Look Back in Anger (started by me), Wonderwall, We go together, from Grease, complete with the shamalanga dingdongs in the right place, and Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee. Someone was filming, and found it very funny that I knew all the words to Sandra Dee, but I held my head up high and sang. I’m on somebody’s video somewhere.

Then a little more lazing around. Two week holidays, I’ve decided, are great. The halfway point always seems to be a turning, where you stop thinking about just having got there and start thinking about how you’re on the way to the end. For that to happen after a week instead of a few days was lovely. By the end we were ready to go back. I’d picked up a gippy tummy, and under Daniela’s advice had gone to the doctor’s and got some antibiotics for it. We were both sun saturated, and ready to be back. And I fancied a curry.

The trip back was long. We left the hotel at one fifteen. There was a slight hold up on the way when people, apparently on strike, had blocked the road. For awhile it looked like it would be pretty bad, we might miss our flight, but it cleared and we had loads of time. The little merengue band were still at the airport, and this time we were on the right side of the glass. Also at the airport our bags were overweight. We had a 40kg limit apparently, and our bags had blossomed to 50. Daniela was all ready to argue our corner, we’d had plenty of practice, but I paid up. It was US$120. We also paid the forty for the tax to leave the country, and that left us with US$1 and $30, a total of somewhere under a pound.

To argue or not to argue? I don’t know. My instinct is not to, but sometimes you have to, and sometimes it works. In Romania where rules are more like guidelines, arguing is built in; in England where rules are made to be followed a bit more, the skill is being lost. I now have four T-shirts to show for it, and whenever I wear one in future I will remember the importance of standing up for yourself, and remember a wonderful week with my love, in the Dominican Republic.