I've been a photo pro at the Digital Shootout events for three years now, and the staff (and one of the participants) and I have become pretty close. These are friends and peers that I see only for 1-2 weeks a year while working at select island destinations, and while attending various dive expos around the States, but the intensity of our shared experiences are building what are likely to be lifelong friendships. Here in Palau and Yap, I can't help but feel that I've just finished a 2-week camp, complete with cliques and distinct personalities that have caused subtle social eddies to swirl around during our all-day interactions and geographical confinement. There was also some strangeness and sexual tension with a (slightly) older woman, which made me a bit uncomfortable; the attraction wasn't very strong on my side, and I've never had any sort of relationship with someone so much older (~8 years or so).
For the most part, the people on the trip this year were really great! A Swiss-French couple has decided to adopt me and has asked me to get permission from my mother. "A mother in Asia, and one in Europe! That is great, no? ... We have a house on Lake Geneva with a private chalet for you. You can bring your girlfriend and stay there with us."
Perfect! Well, except for the girlfriend part, which I have to work on... :)
Actually, I've been "adopted" quite a few times now. I think I have a good resume for being a son or something -- at least, on paper.
Everyone else is gone now, just having departed for a 3am flight to Guam. I moved upstairs to Mel's old room (the nicely renovated corner room), and am looking forward to more attempts at diving with mantas. They have not been cooperative for the past few days.