Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Every country seems to need their heroes, valiant people who overcome overwhelming odds to accomplish noble deeds for the good of his or her country and countrymen, usually at great peril to themselves. Costa Rica is no different, and, although for centuries she has avoided the wars and troubles of much of the world, Costa Rica still seems to need her heroes.
I have always heard of the brave Juan Santamaria who threw the fire into the house of William Walker´s filibusteros in Rivas, Nicaragua, causing them to retreat in panic. So, around 20 years ago when I was in Rivas I asked the local people, ‘Where is the William Walker house that was burned down?’ No one knew. I asked police officers, school teachers, tourist guides and no one knew. Finally an elegant elderly gentleman told me how to find it: up that street, over two streets, down that one, in the middle of the block. I went there and found a fenced-in empty lot with a plaque on the side.
It said, in Spanish, “Here is the site where the Filibusteros of William Walker were fighting until the brave Nicaraguan hero, Emmanuel Felipe Neri Mongalo, threw a torch into the house causing it to burn and putting the filibusteros in retreat.” |