Entry #19

I have returned from the Great Barrier Reef and the live-aboard Scuba certification program. I am now officially certified by the PADI organization to go Scuba diving on my own. I'm sure this class and new certification will propel my career as a savvy business professional forward by leaps and bounds. I wonder if this class can be deducted off my taxes as a business expense? Any accountants out there reading this blog?

This is also the first time I have spent my favorite holiday, Halloween, in another country. I was shocked to find out that Australians don't celebrate Halloween! What's up with that? Who doesn't love chocolate? Who doesn't enjoy getting the neighborhood kids all hyped up on a sugar? Free candy for kids has to be one of the best concepts Americans can export to other countries. Iraq would be a different place if WE greeted THEM with candy and flowers a year and half ago.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a waterproof digital camera with me, so I don't have pictures of the sharks, octopus, turtles, lionfish, parrotfish, etc to share with you. While the reef life is beautiful and colorful, I was a little disappointed. The only other reef I have visited is off the coast of Ft Lauderdale, Florida. But since this was the "GREAT" barrier reef I expected more. I mean they don't just throw the word GREAT in front of everything, right? But the reality is that even though the reef is some 2,000 miles long, you really can't see it all, because, (yes, I know this is quite obvious) it is all underwater. I probably only scuba dived (dove?) a 1/2 mile of the 2,000 miles, and while fun, exciting and beautiful, you can save yourself the long trip and just go to Florida.

On a completely different topic, it has come to my attention that this website has become water cooler fodder at a few companies in Boston and an elementary school in Worcester. So I'd like to give them a "shout out" to say thanks for reading my blogs. Pam, my webmaster, and I have been putting in hours of effort, so its nice to hear that your enjoying our little web site in the vastness of cyberspace. I hope you continue to take this journey with me for the next 2 months.

Sean's little rant
I have a pet peeve to air here. Over the past 2 months I have met many people that are going on extensive travels of a month or more. In Europe, it is actually law in certain countries that you get 5 weeks of vacation; no, this is not a joke, its true. So if you take your vacations back to back for two years you can take 2.5 months off from work. Australian law states that you can take a year off with the guarantee of your job when you get return. I really wish American culture reflected these Euro and Australian attitudes a bit more…

However, I meet lots of people along the way from Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Now, usually within the first 5 minutes of conversation fellow travelers and I trade our itineraries to see if we're coming or going in the same direction, and trade tips. Invariably people say to me, "You're doing all THAT in 4 months?" in a condescending tone. They quickly follow that with, "You won't be able to 'experience' the local culture!” Well it’s been two months and I'm quite happy with my speed and I feel I have had several chances to experience "local culture." From the cockfight in Ecuador, to the fundraising dance party for the local mayor on Easter Island, to betting on the Melbourne Cup (similar to the Kentucky Derby, but bigger and Australian) today, I’ve seen, heard and smelled normal life in various countries.

Many of the people that claim to be going a slower pace to "experience local culture" are really wasting time smoking pot at the hostel with other twenty-somethings from EU countries. I hate to break it to them but there are amazing, incredible people all over the world, in every town and in every city. And in cities like Boston, London, Berlin, and even Toronto there is someone from almost every corner of the globe that can teach you about their culture and their people if you’re willing to take the time to seek them out. I'm here to see things I can't see anywhere else in the world. There is only one Great Wall of China, there is only one Taj Mahal...ok, maybe at Disney I can see smaller versions of these things, but it’s not the same. Anyway you get the point. If you are reading this and thinking of taking your own "world tour", don't listen to those naysayers that tell you can't do it this quickly. I'm here to tell you that you can see the WHOLE world in a year.

Oh, and people that spend 8 months just in New Zealand aren't "traveling", they are living there! I wish they would just recognize that and get off my back!
Wheew! That felt good.

Now get out there and Vote! Well, that is assuming you are voting for Kerry. If your voting for Bush, the election has been postponed due to a terrorist threat and will now be held on Wednesday! :)

Sean McGrail

 

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