San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

I’ve Had a Great Ride on All Fronts

After all these years, my memories are all a tangled blur but a happy tangled blur. It was the early 1980s, all of Central America was a mess and there was so much spillover in Costa Rica for us to report on.And there were all the usual shady characters and their scams and scandals…

And there was of course us – most of the time it was Dery, me, Jean and Lezak and our old battered Underwoods. And of course Mr. Dyer. I loved hearing his stories; the one I remember best was of him trying to do a live radio report on an eclipse – in the pouring rain – on a rooftop in Argentina.

I’ve stayed in journalism. My last year at the Tico I was dividing my time between the TT and a SIP (IAPA) beca. I did a project on the Inter-American Human Rights Court, and also did a lot of freelancing that year and began work on my book, The Costa Rica Reader.

I came back to the States in late 1983 and ended up working for Reuters in New York. I handled a lot of Latin America copy, and periodically went to Mexico to help out during various Central American crises… After five or six years, I moved to Miami, where I covered Florida and the Caribbean, including Haiti and at times Cuba. (Once I briefly met Fidel).

In 1992, I helped cover the Clinton presidential campaign and two years later went to Washington… where I ended up living around the corner from Tico Times alum and dear dear friend Stephen Schmidt. I got married two years later – to Ken Cohen, a widowed rabbi with a five-year-old (My shower cake said “Oy!”) We later had a second son.

My days of traipsing around Latin America, (or North America for that matter) are over for now – I still work, but closer to home. Zach is 15 now, Ilan is 5. Both are joys.

We live in Bethesda and I still work for Reuters covering Congress, usually just three days a week now, leaving me time to be with my family.

In my “spare” time, I write for magazines ranging from “Parenting” to the “Washingtonian.”

I also co-authored a second book, this one on childhood sleep: “Good Night Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake Up Happy.” I met my coauthor, a social worker, after I consulted her when Ilan, at age two, was still up eight zillion times a night.

I’ve had a great ride, personally and professionally. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve covered everything from presidential campaigns to Voodoo festivals in a Haitian waterfall. I have a wonderful family.

But some of the best times I had were in that funny little pink house near the Corte Suprema, with the banana tree in the back yard and a perpetual crisis in the shop… I think of you – Jean, Dery, Lezak, Lyle, Katherine, John, Rod, Shirley, Trudy, Rodolfo, and of course Mr. Dyer. And Dery, sometime in the next 50 years, please learn how to use email!!!

–Joanne Kenen


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