TERRABA, Costa Rica – The Terraba Indians, who live in southwestern Costa Rica, still remember Spain’s Letizia Ortiz, who visited them in July 2003 before becoming queen.
Paulino Najera, who served as guide in the area for the then-journalist, told EFE that “she’s an excellent woman with a noble heart. She was here for four days and we had the good luck to see how she acted in difficult situations.”
He told about “a rather complicated situation we had in a heavy rain. She didn’t hesitate in getting out of the car and helping the people fighting with the water and mud. She ... didn’t mind getting into the mud in the rain to help. There, I found out that she is a wonderful person.”
Marina, an artisan who lives in Boruca, just a few kilometers from Terraba, also told EFE that Letizia bought from her “a little gift, a letter opener made of wood” and that she played with her many grandchildren.
“She was very affectionate with the children and spoke a little about being a reporter and why she had come to Costa Rica to get to know the indigenous communities,” Marina said.
She added that “Ayyy! when we saw that she was going to marry the Spanish prince we couldn’t believe it! We had been with the person who was later to become the queen of Spain!”
Najera said that it was in July 2003 that he served as Letizia’s driver and guide. “We visited some ethnic groups (in the area)...” She walked along pathways with medicinal plants and was interested in tourism plans in the area.
Fidelia Rivera, Najera’s wife, was tasked with cooking for Letizia, who – she said – not only really enjoyed the food but asked her for some of her recipes.
“The chicken with beans, rice, potatoes, plantains and tomato salad were her favorites,” Fidelia said.
Najera said that “one day Letizia was sad and I thought she was sick, but she told me ... she was in love and (he) was being difficult.”
“I told her that in our community, the custom is to put into a newborn’s cradle seeds of some trees we have here ... because traditionally that brings good luck, and so I gave her six or seven seeds.”
The future queen of Spain left and “just weeks later they told me to turn on the TV and there was Letizia with the prince of Spain, who had asked for her hand in marriage,” he said, adding with a smile, “Hey! ... It could just be a coincidence.”