I just recently got back from an adventure in Slovakia. It was one of the most enjoyable trips of my life. My sponsor treated me with better hospitality than I think I’ve ever had. I also learned a lot – good rigs, good hands, great food, beautiful accommodations and a beautiful country that almost no one here knows about.

There are not a lot of English-speakers in the western part of the country, and I couldn’t handle a word of Slovak, so communication was a mite difficult. It was easier at the rig. Rig hands all somehow seem to understand each other, in spite of the language barriers. It got more interesting in the evening. We all searched for words the other could understand, and we rephrased and worked on it until we understood each other as best we could. My friends all were very interested in my drilling stories, and I did my best to distill things down to digestible chunks.

They also are well aware of the upcoming presidential election here, and wanted to know my views of the candidates. The questions were great because they were not burdened by political correctness, which may be defined as the ability to pick up a cow-pie, by the clean end.

They asked me to explain the candidates, so I told them I thought: John McCain, while a true war hero, is too old to be a Wal-Mart greeter. Took a while to explain what a Wal-Mart greeter was; I finally got it across this way – too old to work on the rig, but deserving the respect of a grandfather, so we gave him a chance.

I explained Barak Obama this way: He’s a post turtle. The translation of that one took quite a while and several glasses of Pivo. (One thing I can say is that part of the world seems to have invented beer, and they sure know how to make – and appreciate – it!) After properly lubricating my tonsils, and the tonsils of my translator, I asked them: Have you ever driven down a country road and noticed a box turtle sitting on the top of a fence post? It’s like this: He doesn’t know how he got up there, he doesn’t know what to do up there, and he doesn’t know how to get down. The only thing left is to wonder what kind of fool put him up there. The only thing we’re sure of is he wants change. Since America is the richest, most successful, most productive country in the history of the world, it makes you wonder what this post turtle wants to change.

My hosts also were eager to talk about their freedom from the Communists, and how things weren’t better in the old days. They spoke of things that we are considering voting on right now, and wondered how Americans could be so ignorant of the ways of the world as to attempt to perfect something that had been tried for 80 years without success, like socialized medicine. In the old days, they explained, health care was free; the problem was that there was only one doctor for each zillion people, no medicine, poor facilities, and a waiting list that makes a permit for a nuclear plant look quick. They also explained the pay system. In the old days, they said, “We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.” They love their freedom, and will not trade it for all government handouts in the world. Here, we used to call them Republicans.

Another thing I noticed was that their history goes all the way back before the Romans. It makes Americans sound like short-term renters when we speak of long-ago events like the Civil War. I stayed in a building that recently was converted to the only five-star hotel in the whole country. It was built in 1362, without any building codes or anything – just common sense, wood and stone – and it’s still standing. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

They do have their share of bureaucracy, though. It turns out they had to have 18 different permits to drill a hole in the ground. One of the more remarkable was from the Department of Antiquities. The deal is if they drill up anything like bones or Roman spearheads or anything else that might be old, they are supposed to shut down and call the Department of Antiquities who would send scientists, students, scholars and I don’t know who-all to the rig to root around. (I suppose that even those ex-Communist thugs need jobs.) The rig would have to shut down – and pay for all the time and people who showed up. In practical terms, it makes it so very few antiquities are drilled up!

I gave them a dose of the world according to Wayne, enjoyed myself, learned a lot and look forward to going back, if they’ll have me.