If you know my husband’s and my stories from Greece, you may think the most dangerous situation was when our rental car’s brakes stopped working while we were driving on the edge of a cliff on a Greek island… But that isn’t what I’m writing about here.
I’m talking about one of the only times I’ve been out of the country without my husband – traveling with my friend, another female. It was a girls trip to the beach in the Dominican Republic, just the two of us.
I was listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast episode called “Best Lifesaving Lessons” and it made me think about this trip to the Dominican Republic. Immediately I thought I should write a blog post to drive home Oprah’s point with my own story: listen to your gut (along with a couple of other things I learned during this episode).
What happened on our first night in the Dominican Republic
When you arrive at this resort [which I’m not allowed to name due to the agreement I had to sign, more on this later], they tell you to leave your bags with a tag on them and to go check in. Someone is supposed to bring your bags to your room within an hour or so. Everyone that was arriving was doing this, so we did the same and went on to check into the resort. I’ve been told that this is pretty standard procedure and not unusual. This was around 3 pm.
An hour passes, another hour passes, we go have dinner and when we come back we still do not have our bags. We had been checking periodically and they told us that they’ll be brought to our room shortly. By the time it’s 7 or 8 pm, they think that our bags were brought to the wrong room. They say they’re going around opening every guest’s door to check if our bags are there. This seemed odd but not completely out of the realm of possibility. I think probably around 8 or 9 pm we went to wait in the lobby until our bags were brought to us.
By the time it’s 10 or 11 pm, we are fed up. This seemed like the most ridiculous thing ever. The airline didn’t lose our bags (which is more common), the resort did! What?? How in the world do you lose a guest’s luggage at your resort? I feel like by this point, we’ve talked to 10 people who work there, said what colors our bags are 100 times, but we weren’t any closer to finding them. Twice, I asked them if they checked the bellboy’s storage – they said yes.
So then they want us to check the security footage to see if we can locate ourselves and then follow where our bags ended up. Remember that this is 8 hours into this fiasco. We said okay. I guess we have to find our bags ourselves because no one has been successful at this point. I thought we would go into another room in the lobby where they have computers for security cameras.
Instead, we were taken to a golf cart and were driven outside of the resort’s entrance. As soon as we crossed the entry line, I thought about jumping out of the golf cart. All my alarm bells were going off. My friend and I looked at each other with “WTF“ looks.
The security office
Apparently the security office was located just outside of the resort. It was a very poorly lit area – just some random buildings and a parking lot with no street lamps. They wanted us to follow them inside (them being a couple of men from the resort) into the random building that had all windows covered with curtains. My friend didn’t move. I waited until they were inside and then I peeked through the door. It didn’t look anything like the lobby at the resort but more like something you see in movies where girls end up in trouble. Just a messy, not-at-all professional place.
I couldn’t see anyone inside because the front room was like a hallway and you had to go all the way inside to another room to get to the security cameras (supposedly). Quickly, I turned around and told my friend that we are DEFINITELY NOT going inside. She was starting to cry at this point.
The men came out asking us to come inside, telling us it’s safe. Then we noticed more men coming out (that were in the building already). We were in a dark parking lot, outside of the resort, surrounded by strange men. Things weren’t looking good. I thought about my options: 1) we could run back to the resort – it wasn’t far, but we’d be on foot and the men would have a golf cart; 2) we could demand that they take us back to the resort; 3) we could go inside the building (which wasn’t really an option).
My friend got her phone out and said “I don’t care how much this costs – I’m calling my dad.” I felt so bad – she was crying on the phone with her dad, terrified, and it was our first day of vacation! Her dad wanted to talk to someone from the resort – he told them to take us back to the resort. After we got off the phone, we decided with option #2: demand them to take us back to the resort lobby.
Finally, we were on our way back. But they took us the BACK WAY! They took us where only employees go and the dumpsters are, you know, the back that you don’t ever see. My friend thought the danger still wasn’t over. After a few seconds, we started to recognize where we were and we calmed down.
Back at the lobby
When we came back, of course we still didn’t have our bags. I was past my breaking point at this time but we still had to think of what to do next. The only thing I could think of doing was just going hysterical in front of the hotel staff so they would take this a little more seriously. The only way I knew to do that was to call my husband. As soon as he picked up the phone, I started crying hard and telling him what’s going on – in front of the hotel staff.
After I hung up, we talked to the hotel staff for a few minutes, wondering how this could be happening. Five to ten minutes later, a man came in with our bags in his hands. HALLELUJAH!
We had to ask how they found our luggage and where it was lost. They said they found us on the security footage (so they didn’t need help with that after all) and the bags were in the bellboy’s closet….. Remember, I asked if they checked the bellboy’s storage TWICE! At that point, we were angry but we were just glad to finally have our bags and start this freakin’ vacation.
You didn’t think we would just go back to our room that easily, did you?
We asked to be compensated for all this torture. We ended up being upgraded to a suite in the adults-only part of the resort. It was a much nicer and bigger accommodation than we had before. The only catch was that we both had to sign agreements stating that we can’t discuss what happened on social media, in reviews, etc. So I’m not telling you the resort name for this reason.
What does this have to do with Oprah?
Circling back around to Oprah’s podcast episode – she said to always listen to your gut. It could save your life. I have no idea if our lives were in danger or not. I like to think not. But when we crossed the line and were outside of the resort, all my alarm bells were going off and that was my gut telling me something isn’t right. You should always listen to those alarm bells.
Another thing I learned is “do not let them take you to a second location.” We were definitely taken to a second location. The second location is always out of sight of any other people, so it’s always bad. Resist being taken to that second place.
Another thing I learned is that women are taught to be nice and kind, always. Even when women have that gut feeling telling them something is not right, we still want to be nice and not offend anyone. We like to think that people are good unless proven otherwise. We don’t know if someone is a bad person until it’s too late, so listen to your gut and stop being nice all the time so they don’t take you to that second location!