Summer in the rainforest was experience of a lifetime   Leave a comment

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Summer in the rainforest was experience of a lifetime

Kalinda Kolek is flanked by her father Cary Kolek and stepmother Christine, as they posed in front of a Buddhist temple in Indonesia.

If Kalinda Kolek was assigned to write an essay about what she did this past summer for her English class, she would probably have enough information and photos to produce an in-depth travel piece.

By Charlie Warner

Argus News Editor

If Kalinda Kolek was assigned to write an essay about what she did this past summer for her English class, she would probably have enough information and photos to produce an in-depth travel piece.

While most 15-year-olds might write about a trip to the Black Hills or spending several weeks at summer camp, the Caledonia High School sophomore’s summer vacation was much more extensive and exciting than that.

Kalinda, the daughter of Becky Holzwarth of Caledonia, spent 10 weeks touring the Far East and living with her father and step-mother in the mountainous rain forest of Indonesia.

Kalinda’s father Cary Kolek landed a job at the world’s largest copper mine near Tembagapura, Indonesia. Tembagapura is on the large island of New Guinea, about 500 miles north of Australia.

“My initial reaction when Dad asked me last Christmas if I wanted to spend the summer with him and Christine in Indonesia was ‘NO!’” Kalinda said. “I couldn’t imagine being away from my family and friends in Caledonia for 10 weeks. It took me a long time to agree to go. And I still had second thoughts when I arrived.”

Kalinda’s step mother sent her a detailed map of the Far East with an itinerary of where they would be going. She also provided the information regarding the various shots that would be required to enter the countries they would be touring. Kalinda was subjected to a series of three shots and an oral vaccination.

“When you’re living in the middle of a rainforest, you just don’t know what you might catch, so she had all those to be on the safe side,” Becky noted.

“My friends weren’t surprised when I told them I was going to spend most of my summer half way around the world. I think they would have been more surprised if I would have told them I wasn’t going,” Kalinda said.

The idea of sending a 15-year-old halfway around the world is more than a little daunting. But Becky pointed out Kalinda’s step mother would be meeting her in Los Angeles for the 14-hour trip across the Pacific to Taipei, Taiwan.

“Kalinda’s step mother is a wonderful lady. We get along well with her and I didn’t have any qualms about that,” Becky added.

Kalinda left the second week in June and flew the four hours to LA by herself. In LA she hooked up with Christine and landed in Taiwan 14 hours later, then flew four more hours to Denpasar, Bali, which is part of Indonesia. There they met Cary and spent June 11 and 12 resting up from the long trip and toured the island city.

For the next two weeks Cary and Christine showed Kalinda the many historic temples and sights of Indonesia. They toured Jakarta, which is the nation’s capitol, then returned to Bali for a week of touring and exploring.

“The Buddhist and Muslim temples are just incredible,” Kalinda said, as she called up photo after photo on her laptop during the interview. Kalinda had more than 1,000 images of her summer odyssey on memory sticks.

Kalinda, Cary and Christine then flew 1,500 miles to Timika, which is on the Indonesian side of New Guinea. From there they took a helicopter to the mountain town of Tembagapura, situated 6,000 feet above sea level in the New Guinea rain forest.

While the sights and sounds Kalinda experienced in the larger cities of Indonesia were eye openers, the mountain community of Tembagapura was a cultural shock.

“All the roads were rock roads,” Kalinda began,” and I don’t mean gravel roads. These were rock roads, made out of rocks this big,” she said, holding up both her hands. “There was one grocery store in the town, about half the size of Quillin’s, a small department store that had everything from Tupperware to shirts to all the necessities you couldn’t bring with you when you flew in. There was one restaurant called The Loop and there was a school for kids up to eighth grade. That school was for both the native kids and those of the expatriots who worked in the mines.”

When asked if she got bored during her four-week stay on “the mountain,” as she referred to it, Kalinda replied, “oh yes. There wasn’t a lot for the women to do. The men would head off to the mines and the women might go to the pool or the gym and maybe hang out at The Loop. That was about it.”

The mining town did have limited Internet service and Kalinda spent much of her time communicating with her friends back home. “The Internet service was real slow, but it was better than not having service.”

They were also able to view satellite TV, although there were only about a half dozen English channels.

“It rained every day. You just got used to bringing an umbrella with you everywhere you went. If you wanted to see the sun, you had to get up real early. By mid-morning it would cloud up and rain all day. We hardly ever saw the stars. It was usually cloudy at night.”

Towards the end of July, Kalinda admitted she was counting the days and then the hours, as her departure date neared. The day she and Christine were to fly off the mountain and begin the long trip back to the States, they got up at 5:30 a.m. only to be greeted by a thick fog. There would be no helicopter service that day.

The fog lifted, however and Kalinda and her step mother were able to begin the trip home.

The trip home took them through Singapore, whic
h Kalinda described as the cleanest place she had ever been.

“They call Singapore ‘the fine city’ because you can get fined for just about anything. They won’t even allow chewing gum because of the littering issues. And as we approached Singapore on the airplane, a message came over the speaker system that drug smuggling wasn’t tolerated in Singapore. They handle it there with the death penalty.”

While she had second thoughts about embarking on the trip in June, she was very glad she decided to go and recommended a trip like this to everyone.

“I had the chance to see all those beautiful temples, hand-feed a wild monkey in the rain forest, swim with dolphins in Bali and see the world’s tallest buildings in Malaysia. I got to learn about cultures that were very different than our culture here in Caledonia.

“It definitely was a learning experience and an opportunity of a lifetime.”       


  You can contact Charlie Warner at
charlie.warner@ecm-inc.com


Posted September 29, 2010 by dmacc502 in Uncategorized

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