Your cowboy hat is now famous from the picture of you on the day of the bombings. Will you continue to wear it?I always wear cowboy hats and have about 10 of them that I wear for work and going out. Actually, while living here in Costa Rica, I was a rodeo clown at the annual bullfights in Zapote [a southeastern district of San José].Really?Yes, my nickname as a rodeo clown was “El Gringo” because I was always dressed in an American football jersey when running with the bulls. I wore a Philadelphia Eagles jersey and for many years people knew me as El Gringo. I used to wear a bulletproof vest when runningwith the bulls and now lots of Costa Rican rodeo clowns do as well.You are also known for another episode in Florida when your son passed away, correct?Yes. When my son died I almost killed myself. I set fire to my van and burned 26 percent of my body in second- and third-degree burns. I really don’t know what happened. It was my birthday, August 25, 2004, when my son died. I tried to kill myself, but I survived. OnlyGod knows why.What are your plans now and for the future?Well, I want to see what happens with [Boston bombing victim] Jeff Bauman and remain in contact with him. I hope he can come to Costa Rica. Also, I am focusing on spreading awareness about suicide prevention and continuing to work with veterans. How has Boston changed since that day?It was in such a state of shock those days after the marathon. Everything stopped. In time, Boston has returned to somewhat of a state of normalcy. The streets and businesses are back open and the city is functioning as it did prior to the marathon, though the people are stilldealing with the residual trauma. There is still grieving, though the city is priding itself on being strong. It will require a lot of time and psychological support to overcome that day. Facebook Comments Adam Williams | Tico Times With the President of the United States as a registered guest at the Hotel Real Intercontinental in Escazú on Friday night, the scene in the lobby was one of unordinary sightings.When the massive presidential motorcade roared in around 9:30 p.m., Secret Service agents spilled out of vans toting assault rifles, hoards of hulking security personnel surrounded the front entrance, and what appeared to be the entire hotel staff scurried around to usher the distinguished guests to their rooms.Yet, amid the presidential buzz, a familiar face – one that dominated international news reports last month – silently stole the spotlight as he sipped a beer near the lobby bar.Donning his famed folded cowboy hat, and with wide eyes and long curly locks, Carlos Arredondo – the Costa Rican who achieved hero status for his efforts to save injured victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings – sat patiently in the lobby.A now-famous photo of Arredondo taken as he assisted wounded runner Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the bombing, has since emerged as the international image of heroism amid the tragedy of that day.Arredondo, who said he shook hands with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Boston in the days following the bombings, was in town over the weekend to meet with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. That meeting took place Thursday. His next goal was to speak with Obama to promote Boston Samaritans, a suicide prevention organization, and to lobby for more support for U.S. military veterans.Early Saturday morning, Arredondo – covered in silver body paint – was seen standing on a chair in San José’s Plaza de la Democracia, being photographed for a year-end “People of the Year” issue by the daily La Nación.Arredondo sat down with The Tico Times on Friday to discuss his human rights work, his colorful history, and how the Boston Marathon bombing changed his life forever.Excerpts follow.TT: How does it feel to be referred to as a hero?CA: (laughs) Well, I don’t consider myself a hero. I did what anyone else would have done in that situation. I thank God that I wasn’t injured and was able to help out those that were as quickly as possible. Anyone in that situation, looking at all the injured people lying on theground, would have done the same thing I did.What was it like to be in Boston on the day of the bombings?It was a horrible tragedy. We were there very early in the morning giving U.S. flags to people there and supporting the soldiers and veterans that were running. After the bomb exploded, I just reacted as quickly as I could to get to where it went off to help anyone I could findthat was injured. It was a very dramatic experience. So many people lost legs and 280 people were injured. After the sound of the bomb, there was a ball of fire and afterwards smoke. All the people that were standing in the area where the bomb went off were no longerthere. Almost all of them were on the ground injured.In the picture of you from the marathon, you were helping a man after he was wounded in the bombings. I read that you have remained in contact with him. The young man I helped is Jeff Bauman. He is 27 years old and from Massachusetts. He is now stable. He lost both legs and suffered second and third-degree burns on his body. But, thanks to God, he has healed quite quickly. Jeff remains in high spirits and is feeling better. Ihave gone to see him four times in the hospital and we talk quite a bit by email. I am hoping that soon he will come to visit Costa Rica.How has your life changed since that day?My life has changed completely. I am now very concentrated in working to spread the word about some serious problems in the U.S. In the U.S., we lose 22 veterans a day due to suicide. It is a grave crisis and we are trying to combine an organization called Samaritans ofBoston, which works to prevent suicide, with the Veteran’s Hospital. The reason I am doing that is because my youngest son committed suicide. Currently we are working with other organizations and are in conversations with the U.S. Congress to provide better benefits to U.S.veterans and their families. No related posts. Carlos Arredondo hangs out at the Hotel Real Intercontinental in Escazú Friday night, hoping to catch a moment with U.S. President Barack Obama. Arredondo is asking the president to dedicate a building in honor of his son, a soldier killed in the early days of the Iraq war. Arredondo also lost a second son, who committed suicide.
Go back to the e-newsletterIt is seven years since I was last in Warsaw and not only was it high time for a return… but a tasting of vodkas got added to the agenda as well. First up was the Polish capital’s iconic hotel, The Bristol, now part of Luxury Collection. It was bought in 2012 by London-based lawyer, Jonathan Lourie, who also owns the gorgeous Norman, in Tel Aviv – and yes, this hotel oozes with similar, tender-loving care. The Bristol is heritage, built in 1901 for pianist Ignacy Paderewski,1860-1941 and his lawyer Stanislaw Roszkowski. Every detail of what is now a 202-room hotel seems to be controlled by conservation authorities.The corner Café Bristol, for instance, is just as I imagine any proper café to have been – it has checkerboard floor tiles, hemispherical standing and chandelier lights, and tweenie-type servers in crisply-starched bibbed aprons. It serves coffee and cakes but – surprise, surprise – last year the best-selling Bristol sandwich was revamped. No longer are ingredients hidden between two thick slices of tasty wholegrain bread. Now, Polish cheeses and sausages, plus beetroot and pickled pear and greens are arrayed – pretty as a picture – Danish-style atop one slice. The other restaurant, the Marconi, is more elaborate, with lots of starched table linens and napkins.Here, in Marconi, came the first vodka, Ostoya, made from wheat and not as sweet as its potato relations, apparently. It was served in a thimble-sized shot, as a great chaser and prelude to a Sicilian Nero d’Avola. My first night in town had to be Polish food, so I started with a superb whole Baltic matjes herring surrounded by delicate blobs of beetroot foam – this preceded a hearty steak, described as ‘Polish aged bull entrecote’, which certainly provided energy and there was no space for plum pudding with suska sechlonska prunes. Breakfast was to prove another insight into Polish products and cuisine: a dedicated room off the main Marconi dining space must have had 200 or more items, including Polish crèpes with cottage cheese, stewed fruits, and dozens of cold cuts and cheese. I was quickly reminded that, without exception, coffee, and bread are first-class in Warsaw.This luxury hotel’s elegant bedrooms include the unique Paderewski Suite, #211, with his music on the vinyls for the floor-standing His Master’s Voice gramophone. The suite also has a 1926-vintage sit-up-and-beg typewriter, a well-tuned Petrov grand piano – and views directly across Krakowskie Przedmiescie.I must give praise to the hotel’s outstanding concierge, Michal Borowiak, who sensibly gives his direct contacts on the hotel’s local map. I have also not mentioned the superb sixth-floor gym, re-designed by a Jonathan Lourie favourite, David D’Almada of Sagrada, or the pop-up displays of local modern art arranged by the hotel’s number-two manager, Piotr Madej. Now I have to return, to meet his boss, Roman Goetsch, sadly out of town during my too-short visit.Soon there will be yet another vodka to try – Raffles Europejski Warsaw, opening this May, just across across Krakowskie Przedmiescie from the Bristol. Raffles will have its own special vodka blend. Chopin is creating a bespoke blend, with a hotel-specific label, apparently (this luxury hotel brand already has its own gin, produced by Suntory Beam-owned Sipsmith, who, as the gal has already recounted, bought it from its two creators, one a direct descendent of Sir Stamford Raffles). The big question is, of course, when exactly does Raffles open here in Warsaw? No exact date has been published but advance notice went out last week and, judging by a tour a few days ago, it could easily accept its first guests from 18 May 2018, one of the dates mentioned.I was so lucky to be shown round. Soon, when you enter the main lobby you will be greeted by vertical floor-standing sculpture-lights, flickering like miniature Eiffel Towers. The three-floor building is an open square, around a courtyard that will have a conservatory restaurant surrounded by garden. Some of the inward-facing ground floor rooms will open into private garden-terraces, which should appeal to smokers. There are still reminders everywhere of the building’s history, which goes back to 1857, but see how original spaces have been brought into ageless modernity by skillful use of natural materials, predominantly Polish oak and the various-grey marble that lines most bathrooms. In some different, greys form mosaics of Warsaw’s Old Town skyline.History is also shown in alcoves leading off upper corridors: each alcove is a reminder of a different stage of the hotel’s history, with suitable furniture. Obviously the present owners, who are led by a Swiss family are great admirers of Raffles Singapore, having worked closely with the designers, who are Barcelona-based Lazaro Rosa-Violan, of Studio Lazaro Rosa, and from Poland, WWAA, led by Marcin Mostafa and Natalia Paszkowska. It is all beautiful. The 88-seat all-day Europsiski Grill has, along its main wall, eight metre-wide blue on white show plates. A coat storage for people coming in from outside looks like a tall chest-of-drawers, but then a whole-half swings open to reveal the hanging rack.Europejski was originally designed by Enrico Marconi for the Przezdziecki family, who still have a minority interest. During the years it has variously been a military academy and an Orbis hotel. It has never, however, had such glorious rooms as the Raffles Suite. I last saw GM Thomas Guss at Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi. Why move here, I asked? It was an opportunity he could not refuse and this will be one of the best hotels in Europe, he promises. There is a cigar lounge with 100-year-old carved ceiling, and a six-room spa which will use Polish-owned Sisley products, and yes, it will have a pool. And that vodka.Mary Gostelow travels over 300 days a year, doing one-night stands in top hotels around the world. Read her daily travelogue, www.girlahead.comGo back to the e-newsletter