The Story and Reason

This story is about the events that ended our travel abroad and cut short our stay in Costa Rica. It is not meant as a negative review of Costa Rica. Although the public hospitals are not where I we would want to go again. But we understand it is a third world country and meets the needs of its people. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and most of the people are nice. Which brings us to this story about the tour from hell. The reason for recounting this nightmare is to warn people about Go South Adventure Tours, Costa Rica. As you will learn from this story, some people can look you right in the your eyes and completely lie. This is a true story (you couldn’t make this stuff up). The pictures I got after the fact, but are accurate.

imageWe scheduled a the dolphin/ whale watching tour. We thought it would be a nice leisurely boat ride with some great photo opportunities. This tour leaves from Playa Del Coco Costa Rica so we had about an hour trip. We had to leave around 6:00 am. It was advertising as having a water taxi pick us up and take us out to their large boat. Well, the water taxi was merely a 25′ boat taking us out to their 26′ boat. As we were looking for the dock to board the smaller boat came in close to shore. They said this boat would be easier to get in shore, so we could get on. The boat backed in as far as it could, which was about 20′ from shore. So we had to take off shoes and socks or sandals, wade out in the water to the back of the boat. Keep in mind there are four of us all in our mid sixties. And they had told us ahead of time to bring cameras, sun tan lotion, towels, etc. So we were all carrying things. imageThey had a small ladder at  the back of the boat to climb up. Similar to this one pictured on the right. That was bad enough, because there was nothing to hang onto except the top of the ladder.  Now at this point there’re 2 tour people standing in the water by us. One was holding the boat and the other just standing watching us. Then there was one in the FRONT of the boat. None of them even tried to help us in anyway.

Once you got to the top of the ladder on your hands and knees, you had to step up from the ladder two levels. Nothing to hang onto at this point. After you got to the top you had to step down one long step. Again nothing to hang on to. This last step down was a flat box about about 2′ from the floor and about a 2′ step down from the top of the boat. It had no skid on it at all and was cover with water. The pictures below show what the boat was like. And the red spots show where you had to climb. As you can see there is nothing to hang onto. The step down onto the floor of the boat was the same as the first red dot from the ladder to the next level.

As soon as my wife who is barely 5′ tried stretching her foot down and made contact with the slippery surface she slid off it and fell to the bottom of the boat. This was a totally preventable mishap IF the Go South people would have taken the precautions they should have. One there should have been something on the surface of that step to prevent slipping. Two, there should have been something to hanging to. Third the Go South person operating the boat or one of the tour helpers should have been helping people into the boat instead of merely standing waiting.

 My wife’s fall resulted in a broken wrist as well as several bruises over her body. The guy leading the tour comes in the boat and tries to get Jane up by pulling on her. I stopped him and told him not to pull on her because she broke her arm. ( Didn’t know it was the wrist until the X-ray). Ok, now they realize it is serious. He says, “don’t worry they have insurance and will take care of everything”. (remember that statement). Well, I’m sure he got told about that later. He called his boss (Rebecca) which we learned later was his wife and they were the owners of Go South Aventure Tours.

When she got there everything changed. First she wanted to know if we had travel insurance. I told her yes, but it shouldn’t matter because they were liable. They finally called an ambulance. In the mean time they brought out a lounge chair and we had Jane sit on the side of the boat as they held the chair up for her to slide on to it. At first I thought they were going to drop her right in the water. But it went ok and they carried her to shore. Then we waited for the ambulance. Rebecca kept telling us the ambulance was just ten minutes out. She kept telling us that every twenty minutes. It took almost a hour and a half for it to get there. The people around the area were really nice trying to help in anyway they could (not the tour people just people who were in the area). Now, another thing I should mention is there was a doctor right in town nearby. In fact several some of the people around mentioned to Rebecca she should get the doctor. But she just kept saying the ambulance would be right there. When the ambulance finally got there, instead of checking on my wife, the driver was standing there talking to Rebecca.

The ambulance driver finally took out a stretcher and started our way. But, once again, Rebecca stopped him to talk some more. This is were the The plot was arranged. The guy looked at my wife’s arm. Then just took a board and and attached it to her arm with a couple pieces of gauze. Nothing for pain or anything else.  First Rebecca wanted us to be taken to the public hospital. Of course she knew if we went there we would end up waiting for hours before Jane was seen. She finally decided we should go to the private hospital because Jane was in an extreme amount of pain, but not to worry as she would be there with us and take care of everything. Here is a picture of the private hospital and X-Ray

Well she was there and yes she took care of things until the doctor looked at the X-Rays and said she needed surgery on her wrist because it was an unstable fracture. Then the climate changed. She came in the room by us and said that she was arranging for us to be moved to the public hospital. She stated to us that the doctors there were better and that they could do the surgery the next morning. Even though they were ready to do the surgery that day where we were. Her tune was all of a sudden going a different direction. Now she was worried that it may cost too much and didn’t know if her insurance would cover it. So without even asking if we were ok with this, she told them to transfer my wife to the public hospital. She again!!,  said not to worry she would take care of everything and be there with us. And that she would pay for the ambulance to take my wife to the other hospital.

 From this point everything went down hill. Here are pictures of the public hospital.

First, Rebecca never showed up, In fact we never saw her again.  Second, nothing had been arranged and nobody knew why we were even there. We were put in a overflowing room of people and had to wait to see someone, anyone. We were there for hours. I also had to pay for the ambulance. Finally we got someone to look at the X-rays. Eventually we ended up in a casting room and a orthopedic doctor came to see Jane. He agreed that she needed surgery. However, there were over 40 people ahead of her and it would be weeks before they could do her surgery. But, he said she should not wait that long and that we should go back to the other hospital to have it done. He said he would put a cast on it, so no more damage would be done. Before he did this he needed to try and reduce the fracture. They had no anesthesia, so, he put some numbing medicine in her wrist. Which Jane said hurt and did nothing to prevent the pain from what he was about to do next. He straddled her arm and quickly yanked on it then twisted her wrist. Jane screamed in pain and I can’t believe she didn’t pass out. He then pulled her fingers, stretching it out while his assistant wrapped it in a cast. A heavy plaster cast.

 imageThey tied a thin piece of gauze and put it around her to use as a sling. From there we had to go to another area where about fifty people were waiting to do the same thing. From there they ordered another X-ray to see if the cast was holding it right. Then we had to take the X-rays back to where we first started and were suppose to wait again until we were called. Enough, was enough, I bypassed this room and went in the back and found the a doctor to look at the X-ray. He said it would hold for now but she needed to get the surgery as soon as possible.

 By this time it was late. They gave her nothing for the pain. In fact, they did not even take out the catheter that the other hospital put in to her to give some  pain medicine and have her ready for surgery. The other couple we went with were waiting for us, because they had driven, and they had been waiting all day for us.  So we decided to go home and go to the other hospital in the morning. Home I took out the catheter and Jane took some pain pills we had with us. But they did no good. Our friends, that were with us, had gotten Rebecca’s number. Calling her, I explained that they couldn’t do it at the public hospital and that they told us to go back to a private one to get it done. She demanded to know why, I explained what the doctor had told us. Now, she said that they were not responsible and would not be paying anything and that I had to pay. She stated I needed to pay for everything, then file a claim with the court, and sue them, and if we won then their insurance would pay. She said it like, so sue us and see what happens. I told her my wife had to have it done within the week. Not her problem she said. 

Jane was in so much pain we had to take her back to the emergency room at a private hospital a little closer to us. Here they put another catheter in to help with the pain. Looking at the X-rays they also said she would need surgery. They could do it but it would be around $10,000 dollars. It had to be paid before they would do the surgery. 

Well, we did not have $10,000. And the travel insurance pays you after you pay. And I didn’t know where to get it. So they gave Jane some pain medicine to last a week. And to let them know when I had the money. To wrap up,  our only option was to head back to the states to have it done. So we had to get plane tickets, leaving the house we had rented until May fourth and head home.

Our niece had got us into a orthopedic surgeon the next day. After doing another x-ray he scheduled surgery for the next day. They had to put a metal plate and a pin in her wrist. The plate stays but the pin came out a few weeks later.


Of course to add to things the travel insurance covered every county except the US. So now we have medical bills totaling over $28,000. The cost difference between there and here. Needless to say we could no longer travel thanks to Rebbeca and Walter from Go South Adventure Tours. imageSo if you ever visit Costa Rica you will love the country and most of the people. But watch any tour you take, as Go South is booked through other tour vendors. Always ask who they are using for the tour. It’s for your own safety. You do not want to use them for anything. And don’t believe the reviews on their site or anywhere else, they are plants. Now some will say accidents happen and it is nobody fault. However, in this case it is 99% Go South Tours fault. All they had to do was help people get on the boat or at least have something to hang on to. The other 1% is our fault, for booking the tour and showing up.