We're currently in the Hard Rock Hotel at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. I didn't think I'd ever find myself writing that particular sentence! We have no idea where we are in relation to the rest of the island. The Hard Rock Hotel is an enormous complex which no one is expected to leave, with giant shopping malls and restaurants everywhere. It smells very nice, however, and I'm currently sitting underneath a dress that Gloria Estafan once wore. It's very lacy and wonderful, but is Gloria Estafan hard rock?
There's a picture of Rod Stewart above the loo in our palatial bathroom suite. It's a little off-putting. That said, we've a massive hot tub in our bedroom, a huge balcony and plates of fruit and champagne on a giant marble table next to the bed. Every thing is on the house. Everything, and I'm not sure I approve. It leads to terrible wastage and binging. Paying for food and drink makes you respect it more somehow.
The journey to the Caribbean was good on the whole. We got up at shit o'clock and came via Paris, which was a little surreal. I WOULD have had a nice cup of tea in Charles de Gaulle airport, but they'd "run out" of English Breakfast tea. Bloody French! I could hear the delight in the woman's voice as she told me she could only offer me Earl Grey. Soap in a mug.
Here's an interesting thing, which in my mind is indicative of the French people's mock hatred of the English. The interactive maps on the Air France planes, which show you where you are above the Atlantic, refuse to acknowledge any cities in England. London is not marked. Glasgow and Cork are there to represent the British Isles. Bloody French and their Catholic club!
The plane journey to Punta Cana was fairly interminable and one of the Air France hostesses was Gallically surly, bordering on down-right-comically rude. She was so rude, in fact, that her behaviour would instantly have lost her a job had she been working for an American airline!
The airport in Punta Cana is like nothing I've seen before. It's thatched for starters(!), and a live band was playing salsa in the baggage reclaim hall. I think the Dominicans would like us to believe that they're wild party animals. The concept is obviously central to their tourism. The women checking passports were even dancing and they play music here all the time. Everywhere. The taxi which brought us here played meringue and strange accordion tunes whilst the driver zig-zagged across the motorway like an absolute lunatic. We almost killed two men driving a fruit cart.
The air here smells extraordinary; verdant. Rich. Intense. Heavy. Probably what you'd expect from a tropical climate, but unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's a little humid as well, which may have an effect on my thighs!
We left the airport and were immediately greeted by a thousand crazy birds chirping in a tree. The sound they were making was like fireworks. Those crazy, slightly tragic fireworks screech like balloons deflating. I've never heard the like.
Poor Carrie, who's one of our number, seems to have brought Argentinian pesos with her. It was the only currency with pesos she could find at the post office. Thank God my brother sorted me out with the proper currency before I made a similar mistake!