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5 questions for Costa Rican writer Diego Delfino – ‘I got into what I’m passionate about’

The self-taught journalist and writer Diego Delfino, 35, was born in Costa Rica to Uruguayan parents, went to elementary and high school in Turrialba, and studied computer engineering and then law at the University of Costa Rica. However, he went on to follow his one true passion: putting his thoughts into words. He is the author of the book “Pozo Ciego,” co-creator of the cultural alternative online space 89decibeles, and has contributed to the daily La Nación’s “Tinta Fresca” section, “SoHo”and “Su Casa” magazines, and “GN Móvil.” Delfino sat down on a Wednesday afternoon at the beautiful Bella Vista Park in Rohrmoser to tell The Tico Times about his adventures and his plans for 2016. Excerpts follow.

Why did you choose to be a journalist?

That goal was always very clear to me. I had the “Adventures of Tintin”  comics when I was 9 years old and immediately I knew that was what I wanted to do: tell stories. I remember collecting Colgate boxes to win some computers, which I then used to create a school newspaper. That was when I was 10 years old and it obviously lasted about two weeks, but that interest was always alive. I always wrote diaries when I was a child. They were bad, but I wanted to write. My mom is a philologist, Spanish teacher and amateur writer, so I don’t know if it influenced me or not, but it was there somehow. My uncle is a journalist. He was the president of the Journalists’ Association in Uruguay and was even arrested by the country’s dictatorship.

When I was a teenager and the movie “Almost Famous” was released, it was crystal clear to me that I wanted to do something like that and somehow generate a positive impact. It was something that was inside me, and that somehow was going to manifest itself, one way or another. I got into what I’m passionate about.

How did 89decibeles come to be?

My friend Adrián Pauly is a musician and had a band with his sister; during that time, she was my girlfriend, so I hung out a lot with them and noticed how the music scene functioned. We felt that there was not enough [music] coverage on the part of the traditional media. We were sons of the MTV and Internet generation, and we hated reading reviews in the traditional media that were badly written, without passion and as if the reporters were there due to an obligation. Since there was no social media [when we created 89decibeles], a lot of people joined, and the forum became a form of social media in which people began getting to know each other and share interests. Even people with different interests such as cinematography, alternative culture, television, and web series began getting together. We then began including that content and it consolidated into a digital magazine, and we inaugurated the column and opinion section. Finally, we opened the blog section so it was not only our insight, but also a space in which people could debate.

In June, after 12 years of 89decibeles, I told Adrián that I thought the project had accomplished its function and decided to move on because I did not have the inspiration and motivation to continue with it. He continued with the project. I’m completely thankful with this because I met the most important people of my life. I’m planning on creating a compilation of the best texts published on the site over a decade to have a physical reference.

Which has been the most challenging piece you’ve done and the one that you’ve enjoyed the most?

Definitely, the chronicle about being a boxer for one day that I wrote for “SoHo.” Those chronicles were about placing yourself within the job of another person. For someone with my level of fitness, the workouts were exhausting. I’m a passive, nonviolent person. I think the guy who I fought against was fired. He was a trainer and made the fight way too real. He knocked me out in the first round and it could’ve been dangerous. I did not enjoy that experience.

What I did enjoy a lot was being the editor for “Su Casa.” I could show my identity, take it in the direction I wanted, and provide a space for people who are doing great things in the country in different areas. This project brought me a lot of satisfaction, even as much as 89decibeles. Personally, the pieces I’ve liked the most have been writing about Keylor Navas after [Costa Rica’s National Team] qualified for the World Cup. I also enjoyed interviewing Bryan Ruiz and Wilmer López. It was a childhood dream come true.

If you could be any character, which one would you be?

The other day I was watching Bruce Lee’s “The Crow.” I’d probably be The Crow because I like a lot what he entails: a very solitary and nocturnal guy. The vengeance plot is something I’ve always liked. That’s why I also love Vendetta and the Count of Monte Cristo. Setting things right [by dealing with] people who have abused power and violence is something that draws my attention. The stories about getting everything in order are something that I like. Obviously, he has a very cool outfit and make up and I also love the theatrical part about wearing a mask and scaring people a bit. I also like a character from Batman called Anarchy. He’s an antihero who transgressed, like Vendetta, but for positive reasons.

Which are your New Year’s Resolutions?

I hope that my three books will be published. One is an approximation of a novel, the second one an approximation of poetry and the third one an approximation of the essay. The three of them are complementary; they’re interspersed. It’s a very intertextual exercise and within the idea of what’s going on with the Internet. You have 14 tabs open and you’re watching something on YouTube, listening to Spotify, answering chats, writing an essay and watching a movie, so it’s a bit of everything. I’m very excited about it. It’s been a process of a year and a half to give it its shape and set it down. It’s going to be a nice beginning and I’m excited about facing 2016. I want to publish my books, create the advertising agency, creating a new news medium. I want all of those things to come out right.

Read other Weekend Arts Spotlight” stories here.

Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at

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