I think it was in October, 1991. I was a freshman at the University of Costa Rica, just starting my English major. Although I had been studying English for over three years, I was still very insecure and my experience with native speakers limited.
I woke up that morning ready to challenge my fate and possibilities, took my backpack and found my way to 8th Avenue and 15th Street. I had never been there but knew I could find the place; didn t know it was going to take me all morning. Tired and disappointed, I got to the corner, turned left and headed to a nearby drugstore, and lo! There it was The Tico Times headquarters.
I took a deep breath and walked into the lobby. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, worn-out sandals, no socks! Now that I think about it, I was a real mess!
Two smiley faces welcomed me at the entrance. They were Trudy Watson and Xiomara Hidalgo. They asked me how they could help; I sat down and could not think of anything better to say: I am looking for a job.
They asked me about my previous experience and skills. To tell the truth, other than delivering paintings to mechanic garages on a bicycle, my work experience was reduced to driving with my grandpa to the Sabana market every Saturday to buy fruit and vegetables for grocery stores. I told them I could speak English; that was it.
Somehow they pitied me; I left my resume (one hand-written piece of paper), my phone number, and my hopes. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in my new office editing the What s Doing Calendar section.
Five years later, I traveled to the United States on a scholarship that I could not have gotten without Dery Dyer s help. Leaving The Tico Times proved to be one of my saddest moments and toughest decisions. I must say that I could not have been the person I am now, had I not worked there.
I learned the value of working hard, to share with other people from all kinds of countries and cultures, to write better, to speak better, but most important, I learned to listen. I could help others as they had helped me.
I grew up making everlasting friends, and learned to love them. For five years I could live with the father I never had at home, dear Don Richard, you know I mean it. I had thousands of brothers and sisters that advised me and preached at me whenever I was doing something wrong. I learned to fight, to dream, and I found, among the old photograph files on the second floor, the recipe for success.
After several years living in other countries, I returned to Costa Rica, finished my English major, got my Master s degree in Literature (thanks, Dery, for the advice), and have worked teaching English for several private and public universities and public institutions. Right now I am working for UNED and UCR as a fulltime English professor, and, once in a while, I like to write poems and short stories.
I try to work hard and learn something new every day, but everything I do, and how I do it, is still a reflection of all the values and lessons I was taught at The Tico Times.
I am convinced that The Tico Times has been something good, necessary for me, for my country, and for my heart. I can find nothing but gratitude to Don Richard and Dery for having opened a space for me at their family table, for having invited me to eat with them, and having helped me grow a stronger and better person.
Thanks, Trudy, Xiomara and Adriana Salazar for having considered me useful, although, let s face it, at that moment, I did not look very promising! Thanks, Diego Herrera, for being my inspiration and guide, and the best boss I have ever had. Thanks to all the journalists, editor assistants, secretaries and receptionists who taught me how to write, to work and to be better. Thanks to all those guys I spent hours with getting the newspaper ready for delivery every Thursday evening and, many times, Friday morning.
Thanks, Tico Times, for existing, may your light never extinguish! Happy Anniversary, dear Tico Times.