Fernandez Castrillo: The Grand Nicoyan Journalist

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A giant wooden armadillo trophy was presented to Jose Joaquin Fernandez Castrillo at the Annexation celebration on Wednesday, July 24, as the winner of “La Gran Nicoya” award in recognition of his contributions to both local and international journalism.

“I have endeavored to always disseminate the great events of Nicoya,” Fernandez said as he accepted the award. 

Fernandez, who was born in Nicoya in 1929, had to move to San Jose to attend high school since there wasn’t a high school in Nicoya at the time. Later he studied journalism at the University of Costa Rica. In 1950, he founded his first newspaper, Mensaje, as a means to fund his education. The monthly publication is still circulating today. In addition in 1966, he founded Viajes magazine promoting national and international tourism.

During his 60-year career, he specialized in travel journalism but also covered cultural, economic and diplomatic issues, conducting exclusive interviews with the presidents of every country in Central America, as well as John F. Kennedy when he was president of the United States.

“One is born with the passion for journalism, the desire to transmit to others what knows, what one thinks,” Fernandez. Two of his daughters were also born with this passion and have chosen careers in journalism.

He has five children in Costa Rica and two in El Salvador. Although he dreams of someday moving back to Nicoya, his family doesn’t like the hot climate.

“Every chance I can get away, I come here,” affirmed Fernandez, reminiscing fondly on his childhood in Nicoya. “I used to go [to Samara and Nosara] on horseback when there weren’t roads to bathe in the moonlight with guitars, making bonfires, and these memories are not forgotten.”