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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005, 15:58 GMT
Monica: Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, turning 15 is a huge step in a young girl's life.

To Dominicans, the quince is known as 'the wedding without a groom'

Monica's family are celebrating by holding a "quinceanera" or "quince", a celebration to mark their daughter's coming of age.

After her quince, Monica is able to attend social functions with her parents, have boyfriends and must accept the responsibilities of an adult.

Historically, the whole concept is based on Christianity and includes a Catholic Mass in homage to the girl, who then receives instruction of her new obligations as a woman.

It is the date that every Hispanic girl dreams of, and instead of the traditional party, the latest trend is to take a quinceanera Caribbean cruise, as a mark of success and status.

But this is not cheap. Many families seek the financial help of rich American relatives.

Monica's mother is spending 10 times her monthly salary to take her daughter on a cruise ship out of Miami.

For the occasion, Monica will be able to wear make-up, nail varnish and pluck her eyebrows for the very first time.

She also hopes to find romance.

Who will be her partner for the first and all-important waltz on board ship?

Coming of Age was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 22nd February, 2005 at 2100 GMT on BBC Two.

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