I'm glad to say I took it to my regular camera shop in Bangkok (I'm in thailand) and for about $15 they recovered all the images.
A very reasonable price, glad you got it sorted
But, now I am wondering: is there any greater risk of corrupting files when switching between the camera and a card reader? Does anyone know, or have some thoughts on this. I've never had a problem with downloading straight from the camera. Am I just being paranoid?
I work with electronics and my feelings are mixed on this, I'm not sure about CF cards in particular but many connectors I use professionally that look quite robust are only rated for 500 insertion / removals. They're probably using very conservative numbers in their datasheets but still it's not a great number, and CF card pins are tiny, so I'd guess a USB connector is more mechnically robust plus it has a lot less pins to fail.
As for non-mechanical failures your camera could have a bug in the USB stack, hardware or drivers that could cause corruption, but so could a card reader. Personally I download via USB, and if my camera fails can switch to a card reader, but I don't think it's a question with a really clear cut answer and I'm sure plenty of people would argue either way.