Strolling along the moonlit beach,
Barbara Gerrard gazed out upon
the magnificent view. "Wow,
Christmas in paradise," she said
smiling at her daughter Marlyn, 25.
"I'm so glad we decided to come here."
They'd been looking forward to the two-week, all inclusive break on the island of Meeru in the MALDIVES, for months.
Now here they were, walking along the sandy path to the on-site restaurant.
But suddenly, the pair's attention was diverted as something dashed across their feet and disappeared under a brush.
Barbara, 45, jumped. "Did you see that?" she gasped, holding on to her daughter's arm.
"No, it was so quick. I wonder what it was?" puzzled Marlyn.
On the way back to their apartment later they saw several more of the creatures scurrying around in the darkness.
"Urgh! They look a bit like rats," Barbara said, shuddering at the thought. "But they can't be surely?"
The next evening Barbara, relaxing on her ground floor verandah, heard something rustling in the bush beside her.
Suddenly, out popped two of the creatures, joined seconds later by another four!
Leaping up from her chair, Barbara ran inside and slammed the doors shut. She was in no doubt now after seeing the rodents close up - they were rats!
Barbara went to complain to the tour rep. But she had to join the queue. There was a stream of others angry about the rats too.
"Why didn't you tell us about these
disgusting creatures at the welcoming
meeting?" demanded Barbara.
"What? Do you really expect me to tell
you that we have rats on the island? No one wants to hear that," came the reply.
Infuriated, Barbara decided to film some of the rodents on her camcorder as evidence for when she got home.
For the next 12 nights, she and Marlyn had to brave a 150-yard dash to the restaurant, finding the best-lit route to avoid the rats.
On New Year's Eve, they decided they'd try and forget about the problem and spend the evening listening to a live band.
"This is what our holiday is supposed to be about," Barbara thought as she swayed to the music. But then she noticed a look of horror on another women's face. She was staring up at one of the loudspeakers.
There, sitting on top, were two rats!
As soon as she got back home to Fife in Scotland, Barbara sent a letter to her holiday company complaining that their 'paradise' holiday, turned out to be an island infested with rats.
But a reply from her holiday company
customer services representative left her speechless.
It read:"...I would explain that these creatures are named Maldivian Palm Hamsters and are extremely harmless."
Barbara was offered £100 in holiday vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.
Barbara called Marlyn and read her the
letter. "Maldivian hamsters? You have got to be joking! It's too ridiculous for words," laughed Marlyn.
"You're right," fumed Barbara. "This letter is an insult to my intelligence."
Barbara even checked with Edinburgh
Zoo if they could confirm the unusual
breed. They had never heard of it.
The travel agent gave them £450. Voila!
Original article by Janet Hawkins adapted for the web.