‘We’re not sick, but we’re stuck’: Local couple can’t get out of Costa Rica

SPOKANE, Wash. — Many people couldn’t wait to take a vacation after the past year, but one couple’s trip quickly turned into a nightmare after they ended up stuck overseas because of COVID protocols in Costa Rica.

Tammie and Patrick Kerley haven’t been on vacation since 2018, so they were over the moon to get away. Costa Rica seemed like the perfect escape, and it was for the most part. The couple enjoyed spending time on the beach, surrounded by nature and enjoying each other’s company.

“This was a nice little getaway of just doing nothing,” Patrick said.

Tammie had been in a car accident just a few weeks before they left, so they had to take it easy as she recovers. They had spent 16 glorious days in Costa Rica, but when they tried to leave, the problems piled up.

“No, we’re not sick, but because of the protocols, we’re stuck,” he said.

They had to take a COVID test before they left. They didn’t get to choose which test they took and ended up with positive results, despite being fully vaccinated. They say the test they took has a high false positive rate, but Costa Rica has a no-appeal process. They couldn’t ask for a re-test even though they don’t have symptoms. Now, they’re forced to quarantine for 10 days.

“In the scheme of things, we’re being fed,” Patrick said.  “It could be a lot worse,” Tammie said.

To pass the time, they journal, draw on their iPad and play games. They’re happy they’re together, but being away from home for 26 days has been difficult. Tammie is missing doctor appointments, and this extension will delay her physical therapy and recovery process. The couple had also planned to get their house on the market. A lot of unused time stuck in a hotel room they can’t get back.

“Summertime is when I do things and get things done, not this summer,” Patrick said.

The Kerley’s say Costa Rica requires every visitor to purchase COVID insurance, so they’ll get refunded for this extra stay. Even though this has been a nightmare, they’ll still travel overseas and just want others to be extra prepared if they’re planning a trip.

“Life is still good, and we’re very blessed. Like I said, we have our health,” Patrick said. “We’re not sick. We just got stuck longer.”

“We’re together,” Tammie added.

They’re encouraging travelers to plan for extended stays because of unexpected issues.

“Anything that you’re taking on for medication, make sure you have at least two weeks extra with you, especially for places like this,” Tammie said.

The couple has to meet with a doctor and the airline to check for symptoms and get cleared to travel back home. If all goes according to plan, they should fly back to Spokane on Monday morning.

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