A native of Costa Rica and half brother of author Alfredo Cardona Peña, Alvaro Cardona-Hine came from a literary family. His grandfather was one of the first novelists in Costa Rica. Alvaro Cardona-Hine emigrated to the United States in 1939 at age thirteen. During his life he was a prolific painter, composer, and poet with seventeen published books of poetry, prose, and translation. Since 1986 he lived in the village of Truchas, New Mexico, with his wife, artist Barbara McCauley.
Translating Alfredo's interviews with Diego Rivera was a labor of love for Alvaro. According to his wife, Alvaro spent many weeks painstakingly capturing both Alfredo's and Diego's words, moods, and intentions.
Alfredo and his brother were raised for some years in Costa Rica by their paternal aunts, and Alvaro had many stories of his older brother's escapades from that time. As adults, the brothers lived in different countries but maintained a close and loving relationship, frequently exchanging letters and their various publications. Both were poets and writers with great respect for one another's work. In 1977, they collaborated on bilingual elegies for their father, each translating the other's poetry for the book Dos Elegias/Two Elegies.