Having a great time in Mexico, sans wallet

Posted: March 15, 2009

Our annual winter beach vacation has been a family tradition for more than 25 years. While our daughter, Julie, was in school, we always worked around spring break. Now that she is grown and still wants to come with us, we work around her schedule.

Two months ago, we went to Playa del Carmen in Mexico for the third time. We chose Playa again because it was an easy nonstop flight for all of us, and it has exactly what we need to break up the winter.

The party that is Playa del Carmen begins as soon as you arrive. The main street, Avenida Cinco (Fifth Avenue), is lined with colorful shops and restaurants for at least two miles. The people are genuinely glad to see you and eager to please.

But something happened to alter an otherwise lovely getaway. When we arrived, I reached into my purse for my wallet, and to my horror, it wasn't there. I felt as though someone had punched me. We frantically searched the apartment - somewhere between the plane and the condo, my wallet went missing. So I did the mental inventory: credit cards, cash, driver's license.

We quickly canceled my cards, leaving us with the cash in our checking account and my husband's debit card. We accessed our bank account and transferred cash to our checking account to get through the week. Meanwhile, the credit card company said it would overnight new cards, but "overnight" in Mexico means five or six days. In other words, we would be on our way home before the new cards arrived.

Our week on the beach was still wonderful, spent reading, taking long walks, eating great food - and sipping my morning mojito. But always in the back of my mind was the tedious work I'd face when I got home - replacing license, credit cards, and so on.

After checking in at Cancun Airport for our flight home, we asked about a lost and found. US Airways' Carlos Ferrer showed us a file drawer filled with wallets. He rummaged through them, but none met my description.

Then, as we sat on the plane, minutes from takeoff, Carlos dashed down the aisle and asked, "Is this your wallet?" It was. And everything was in there, including $400.

I have contacted the airline to praise Carlos and the cleaning crew that turned in my wallet intact. They helped make our latest winter getaway an experience I won't soon forget.

Deirdre Cooper lives in Ambler, Montgomery County.

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