Review

Guanacaste Snapshots
Experiences in Rural Costa Rica

by Susan Gordon (Costa Rica 1964–66)
!Universe, Inc.
July 2004
150 pages
$14.95

    Reviewed by Stacey L. Flanagan (Costa Rica 1994–97)

    SUSAN'S COLLECTION of essays or short stories is about her experiences as a young woman living in a world unlike the one she had known. And yet, almost 30 years later, I was walking into Costa Rica and experiencing a very similar Peace Corps to that of Susan Gordon. I guess there is something to that saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
         As I read about Susan’s first visit to Costa Rica and her experiences as a Volunteer, it seemed all too familiar. A gringa making friends, a gringa helping others, a gringa finding the magically powers that rest in the wisdom of older women. I felt like I was reading my own journal at times —
         I felt somewhat kindred to Susan’s experience in Peace Corps and her expression of those times left me with my head spinning just as my first experience learning Spanish had done. I would begin to read each essay about her experience and get lost in how many people were involved in the plot — it truly did take a village! Susan’s writing was more like a telenovela — soap opera — as they say in Costa Rica.
         Her essays are about her transition into adulthood through her experience living in Costa Rica for ten years but not necessarily about her experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I felt she was tough on Peace Corps in her writing and that she holds a bit of a grudge 35 years later. I think maybe Susan grew up more during her days as a Volunteer than her later years in Costa Rica. And since this isn’t the end of Susan Gordon’s writing, I hope her future writing takes her to a place where she can find peace with her experience.

    Stacey Flanagan is the National Manager of Operation Frontline at Share Our Strength, the nation’s leading anti-hunger nonprofit. She has a B.A. from Michigan State in Political Science and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from the New School and lives in New York.