Book review day: "Married to a Legend" Don Pepe
- It is rare to find a first hand account of Costa Rican history in
English. This is the original English language version of Henrietta
Boggs' memoir of meeting, living with and leaving Don Pepe. It takes
place in the formative years from 1940 to 1949 and the rewriting of
the constitution (hard to tell the exactly dates as Henrietta wasn't
much into them). Don Pepe's decision to abolish the army appears to
have been a single minded decision after his frustration with the
disloyalty of his minister of the Interior, Cardona, who attempted a
counter coup in 1948.
It is a fascinating inside view of this Catalonian descended
charismatic who commanded any room he walked into with his steely blue
eyes and subtle hand gestures. The book covers Don Pepes success as a
sisal farmer building a substantial landholding from a small loan at
La Lucha, his frustration with the inequities of government, his exile
in El Salvador and Mexico (does anyone know if a recording of his
fateful radio broadcast was ever made?), the revolution of 1948 from
the perspective of a fleeing wife and two very young children in the
mountains above Cartago and at an American construction camp on the
Cerro de la Muerte (new data for me - the purpose of the road was to
move men and supplies to and from the Panama canal in case of
blockades of either coast during the Second World war). The book is
full of interesting perspective on a lot of what is modern Costa Rica.
It is also an excellent tale of the frustrations of a new gringa in
Costa Rica in the 1940's.
And yes, Don Pepe was responsible for school lunches.
Don Pepe made a mark on everyone he met. A tiny excerpt . . . Don
Pepe was not very subtle with women . . . while on a trip on his new
blue Harley Davidson up the bumpy road to Irazu he suggested to
Henrietta (a maybe 22 year old gringa from Alabama who had been in the
country under a year), "I believe we ought to get married, you can
think about it on the way up to the top."
This book is electronically published - you can order online, it
automatically prints and mine got here in 3 weeks by "regular mail".
More info here: http://www.lulu.com/content/2655125
Most interesting, Berni
As Henrietta said in 1992, "I believe that each of us has a right to
two countries: the one where we were born, and the other which we
freely choose. As this book will explain, 'the other' for me will
always be Costa Rica.