A COUPLE’S dream backpacking holiday turned into a nightmare when they were left stranded in Mexico with no passports or cash.
Debby Mackenzie and Steve Russ, from Lee-on-the-Solent, were on a trip around the world when they had their bags stolen on a bus from Cancun.
Now the pair could be stuck in a Mexican hostel for up to six weeks while they try to get hold of a new passport.
It follows a week-long struggle with the British Embassy and Mexican officials to find a way home.
Debby, 50, and Steve, 47, want to warn people about the dangers of travelling abroad – and have hit out at the lack of assistance offered by the British Embassy.
Speaking from their hostel in Cancun, Debby told The News: ‘The whole experience left me terrified.
‘We just want to save one more person from going through what we went through.
‘The people who got us out of our situation are locals and other visitors.
‘The only people who haven’t helped us is the British Embassy.
‘They told us our case wasn’t exceptional enough for emergency funds.’
Debby and Steve were the victims of a distraction theft while they were on board a bus from Cancun to Chiquila.
A woman dropped a handful of coins over the pair and while they scrambled to pick up the change for her, two men grabbed their bags from the top shelf and left the bus.
Within hours the thieves had used their credit cards to withdraw small amounts of cash.
Panic set in when Steve, an insulin-dependant diabetic, realised his medication was inside one of the bags.
A friendly local, named Jose, offered to help them find a hospital.
But when they got there they were told they had to pay for the insulin.
Debby added: ‘I was very scared.
‘We were in the middle of nowhere, I felt sick and we couldn’t get the bus to stop.
‘His blood sugar was starting to rise and I was starting to panic.
‘It was life or death.
‘I was begging Jose to pay for the insulin and thankfully he did.
‘I am so grateful to him.’
As well as three months worth of medication, the bags contained passports, money, credit and debit cards, and a laptop.
The couple returned to the Mayan Hostel, where they had stayed previously, and asked for help.
The owners agreed to find them a bed while they reported the crime.
Over the weekend, Debby and Steve managed to get hold of a replacement credit card, but must now wait for weeks for a replacement passport.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: ‘We are aware that two British nationals were victims of a robbery while in Cancun, Mexico.
‘We are providing consular assistance.’
The FCO’s website says it does not provide financial assistance.