A Costa Rican Adventure

Everyone kept making the comment that while Matt and I traveled off as Mr & Mrs Frketich to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, “Maybe he will be your lucky travel charm, and nothing bad will happen?!”  I would just laugh and respond with a maybe, knowing full well that Matt’s lucky ability had a long road ahead to fight my life long curse of disaster.  So as we traveled down south, I was just waiting for the ball to drop.  But then it never did, the whole trip down there went smooth…security  was a breeze, all flights read “On time”, things were going great…until the fateful fishing day.


We were heading out onto the ocean for a half day trip, 4 hours of catching Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and whatever else seemed hungry that day.  It was about 2 hours into our excursion, when we got into a ball of fish and were reeling them in as fast as we could!

Here was the drill…

  • Line goes zinging out
  • Deck hands grab the pole
  • They hand the pole to you, and yell, “REEEEEEL!”
  • Reel it in as fast as humanly possible
  • Flop the fish into the boat
  • Grab the next pole that is zinging and REEEEEL!
  • Meawhile the deck hands are pinning the fish in the corner of the boat, unhooking them and throwing them below.


It all went very seamlessly…until it didn’t! And here we are…I was reeling in a fish, Matt was just finishing up with his, when the captain gave a whistle and Matt grabbed his pole to reel in the next one.  The Captain’s pole had an 8 inch plug with two treble hooks on it (old rusty treble hooks, with very large barbs).  Matt reeled the fish in (with ease…he is quite an expert) landed the fish on the deck while deck hand Gustavo grabbed the middle of the plug to unhook the fish.  Middle is the key word here, one treble hook above his hand…flopping, wild, insanely mad large mahi mahi on the bottom treble.

The fish flops its way out of his grasp barreling downwards, while the top treble hook buries completely into Gustavo’s hand, bloody murder screaming ensues.  Luis (other deck hand) runs to help and grab the head and tail of the fish.  The fish is still too strong, so Matt grabs onto the middle.  Matt has a front row seat to the mayhem that is going on in Gustavo’s hand, he can see the tip of the hook an inch away from where it has gone in just ripping around under the skin like crazy!  Gustavo is still screaming.

I’m standing there, totally unhelpful and not sure what to do.  I took one picture, then felt bad, but now I kind of wish I had documented the whole scene a bit better! The captain jumps down, grabs a filet knife and cuts the mouth of the fish, allowing the hand to be free from a flopping wild animal but not of the quarter inch barbed hook that is still holding on.  What happens next is not for the faint of heart.  Gustavo was sitting on the back of the boat finally feeling a bit of relief but I’m guessing still worried about the next step, get the hook out.


Then Matt offers up a plan that to me sounds genius…cut the hook where it’s connected to the plug, then push the hook through.  With a barb that big, it’s the only way.  I’m all for this plan, Gustavo is nodding his head, Matt’s patting him on the back…we are all in agreement that this is the only way.  Until one small detail hits, Gustavo doesn’t speak English, that poor guy has no idea what we’re saying; the brilliant plan became just gibberish.  And so just as I’m handing Matt the pliers to cut the hook, Gustavo takes a deep breath and starts to pull the hook out backwards, against the barb!!  All the skin on his hand is fighting the hook, his whole body is shaking and he’s screaming like someone who has been shot….I cannot imagine how much this must have hurt!

Finally the hook pops out of his hand, Gustavo still has his eyes closed, so even as it comes out of his hand he continues to pull.  We yell, “STOP! WOAH WOAH! ALTO!”  He stops pulling and we all look down at his hand, and the hook didn’t come out alone, yes folks…there is a tendon attached, wrapped around the barb!!  Matt again with a pretty good plan is going to try to help him loop the tendon back around the barb.  But in a split second Luis, without hesitation comes from left field, filet knife in hand slices the tendon completely in half!  We could not believe our eyes!  And just like that it was all over, with half of the tendon hanging out of his hand Gustavo went under the deck, sprayed on some hand sanitizer and was ready to continue the day.


Matt and I still couldn’t believe it, we offered to let him go in to shore, but no, “we paid for four hours of fishing and we were going to get four hours of fishing.”  Gustavo was pretty quiet for awhile, but the pain must have somewhat subsided because after about 2 hours he did finally laugh at the joke that we caught 6 tuna, 10 mahi mahi, one needle fish, and one 150 pound Costa Rican!

It turns out that we still can’t go anywhere without some sort of adventure.

Author: Nuttygrass

I'm a nut and grass farmer, EMT, Firefighter, and world traveler. I love a good laugh and a great adventure!

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