OTN Tour of Latin America: Wrap-up…

The OTN Tour of Latin America is over for me. Several brave souls continue on to the second leg in about a week. For those playing catch-up on my little adventure, you can read the posts here:

These OTN tours are a great experience and I would advise anyone who gets the chance to take part in a tour to do it, but keep in mind the following points:

  • These tours require a massive investment of time. This tour has taken about 17 days in total for me. For some of the speakers this meant taking annual leave. For others it meant unpaid leave. Not everyone is able to commit this amount of time and potential lost earnings.
  • The conference agendas were rather fluid for the days preceeding the conferences. In some cases, people were dropped off the agenda entirely, only to reappear the day of the conference. It can be a little unnerving arriving at a country, not knowing if you even have a slot to present.
  • The breakdown of the audiences varies quite widely. It’s worth having a few spare presentations prepped before you start the tour. On several occasions we switched presentations around when it became apparent what we planned to present was not suitable for the audience. I started the tour with 2 presentations. I came home with 4.5. You’ve got to be flexible when you do this stuff.
  • We didn’t always know where conferences were taking place before we got to the country. We quickly got into the habit focusing only on the next country, rather than worrying too far in advance.
  • You spend a lot of your own money on these tours. The Oracle ACE program generously provides for the travel and hotel room bills. Some local user groups pay for social events in the evening, which is greatly appreciated, but there are still many other costs that come out of your own pocket. Paying for visas, exit taxes associated with some countries, subsistence costs and things like laundry services all come out of your own pocket. It’s a mere fraction of what you would have to pay to fund the whole tour yourself, but you should be aware it’s not a free ride.
  • It’s hard work. For the whole of this trip I was constantly tired. I feel like I need a holiday now to get over it.
  • There seems to be some misconception that we get paid to do these tours. We definitely do not!

So now I’ve scared you off talking part, I guess I should to tell you why you really need to get involved:

  • Some of the speakers on the tour I have met before, some I knew via the internet and some were new to me. It is surprising how much of a bond you can develop in such a short time. I’m not the type of person that is quick to consider someone a friend, but there are people I’ve only known for a few days who I now consider my friends. I don’t know if I will ever see them again and that makes me sad, but I will definitely not forget them.
  • There are great Oracle communities around the world that us English speakers never get to experience. This is one way to bridge that gap.
  • It’s a very humbling experience to know that most of the attendees are listening to you present in their second or third language. Even more so when they have the guts to approach you to talk about the content of your presentation. It kinda makes you ashamed to be a lazy Brit who only speaks English… Badly…
  • Above all, it’s a really fun experience.

I need to mention a few people for their sterling work in getting me through the tour:

  • Sheeri Cabral for translation services and general organisation skills. I just piggy backed on her (and Debra’s) flight plans, hotel bookings and relied on her Spanish to get me through assorted airports and shops etc.
  • Debra Lilley for being a little island of (near) sanity on the occasions when I was starting to lose the will to go on.
  • Tom Kyte. Watching you present reminds me I must try harder. It was nice to see you out at the social events too. It’s been a few years since you’ve knocked around with us. :)
  • Melanie Caffrey. You are a scream and I suspect we would have seen less of Tom at the social events if you hadn’t been around. :)
  • Graham Wood. I know we are a similar age, but if you don’t mind I would like you to adopt me. You can be my Oracle dad… :)
  • Sergio Tribst. Where do I start with you dude? Quite possibly the most consistently amusing person on the tour. A top bloke!
  • Noel Portugal. What a cool guy. Such a pity you only came to the first couple of events. Hopefully we can meet up at another event so you can  find out how annoying I can be…
  • Shay Shmeltzer for juggling worthy of the Cirque du Soleil.
  • Joel Pérez and Ronal Vargas for my Spanish lessons. Sorry I’m such a terrible student.
  • Plinio Aribizu. Yeah.. init! :)
  • All the other speakers I chatted too.
  • All the attendees for coming and listening to my sessions.
  • All the conference organizers for making the events a success and keeping us entertained.
  • The Oracle ACE program and Francisco for making this happen.

Enough of the mutual appreciation society… :) Next time…

Cheers

Tim…