Monday, July 5, 2010

Experiences That Change You

This past week I devoured the book Sea by Heidi Kling (BOOK NUMBER 23, 336 pages). The book is about Sienna, who goes on a relief trip with her father to help victim of the tsunami. The book is set in Indonesia and Heidi Kling gives the reader a look into the country and their culture through Sienna's eyes. We witness it as an "American," but as you read, you grow the love the country and its people even if their ways seem different. It was a beautiful read and the ending shocked me. It was one of those books that you slow down as you near the end and I might have possibly gotten a little teary eyed when I finished it. If you haven't read it, you should get a copy!

I think a lot of my love for the book has to do with my love of traveling and early experiences of leaving the country (which reminded me a lot of Sienna).

I student taught abroad in college and spent a semester in Costa Rica. I had never traveled outside the country alone before this trip and was amazed at how much I grew and matured while there.

Reading
Sea inspired me to scan some pictures of my trip, so I could share the country with you through my 22 year old eyes. I traveled there a week after September 11, 2001 and it was a very weird feeling to be outside of your country at a time when it was coming together so closely. That experience alone is a story itself that I need to sit down and write someday.

Here's my host family's house outside of San Jose...

And my host family's kids!


My classroom (I taught English 10, 12 and Drama at an American International school, so they all spook English and used the US curriculum and books. Those are quotes from Macbeth on the wall. Teaching Shakespeare to kids who don't speak English as their native language was a challenge!)...


A hallway in the school (it was all open air...we had scorpions in our classroom!)...


My middle school drama class...


I directed a production of
Grease while there...


Our open air cafeteria with fellow student teacher (and weekend travel buddy) Jordan...


Jordan and I at my host family's house...


A night out at a Peruvian restaurant...


Getting ready to go dancing in San Jose...


I backpacked almost every weekend to a new beach town in the country. Here we are in a shady hotel...how did I survive staying somewhere like this!


Our favorite beach town Montezuma (we went there three different weekends!). The bar behind us opened up to the beach and you could dance there all night long...


Hanging in a tree at Manuel Antonio, a national park with a huge rain forest (the monkeys kept us up at night!)...


The beach that reminded me of
The Goonies....


A huge bug outside one of our shady hotel rooms...


Renting bikes and riding to the beach in Limon (my favorite weekend travel destination)...


In the Caribbean at Limon...


Costa Rica is full of stray dogs...I think I befriended every one of them!


Monkeys in the wild...


Tempting the monkeys in the wild...


Letting a wild monkey climb on me (yikes!)....

What about you? Have you ever been somewhere that's changed the way you view things?

7 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

Wow Rachele, that looks like such an awesome time!

Kristan said...

I've been to Taiwan several times to visit family, and I lived in Spain for a summer. My experiences in each of those countries definitely... impacted me. I don't know that they changed me at the core (but then maybe I'm arguing semantics right now). I feel them in my spirit, now; they are home for me, in addition to the other homes I already have.

Re: Being out of the country during/after Sept 11-
That does sound fascinating, and I'd love to read more about it. Whether in your fiction or on your blog. :)

Sandy Shin said...

Thank you for sharing all these photos! It seems like such a fabulous and fun place.

I was born in Vietnam, and I believe that gave me a view of things I wouldn't have otherwise. :)

Okie said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip/experience...way cool. there have been lots of places that have inspired me. Some close to home and others that are more distant.

Anytime I step out of my door, there's opportunity for inspiration...I'm sad when I don't see it. :)

Jen said...

Rachele what a beautiful and fun experience! I've never done anything like it but I felt like I was living through you with all the awesome pictures!!!

Thank you so much for sharing!! I have been places or just with people that change my way of thinking. Eat Pray Love actually did this when I read it a month ago, gives you a new lease on life!

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

Those pictures -- and your experience -- look awesome. Except the giant bug. OMG I hate bugs, and the thought of one that big ... well, all I have to say is that if I ever teach abroad, I'll be going someplace colder and un-exotic. Like Canada.

:)

Lisa Nowak said...

That monkey is so cute. I understand they're bitey, though.

Hey, if you ever want to see the real Goonies beach, just come to Oregon. :)