Monday, January 5, 2009

Day of Preparations

The New Year kicks in and I am off and running with preparations for travel to Bangladesh. My hosts, the Integrated Protected Area Co-Management Project (IPAC), supported by USAID, have sent my formal letter of introduction to the Embassy of Bangladesh explaining that I will be working to develop a community-based nature tourism strategy.

I will be visiting the country twice in three months. The first visit is for 3 weeks in January and February. I return to my office in the United States for writing the draft strategy. I return in March/April to meet with a wide variety of stakeholders to review the draft. I finalize all the strategy paperwork by the end of April.

I prepared all of my Visa application paperwork and photos to send off via Federal Express to a visa expediter today. I should have my Visa in 7 days, so we have all the paperwork processed with a few days to spare. This is normal.

You can imagine the size of my passport. I got a double stitched passport years back now, so that all of the visas I need can fit into it. But when I arrive at each new destination they have to page through alot of visas. They look at me, look at all the pages, but there never seems to be much fuss. I heard someone describe the American travel experience as being part of "empire," just last night. We are not questioned, at least I must say I am almost never questioned. I am embarrassed by this, knowing how many others are questioned so heavily wherever they travel. But of course, I have all of the right paperwork and I am very careful.
I am going for very specific reasons, that are very carefully detailed.

And of course, I go in peace, hoping to bring prosperity to other parts of the world via the sustainable development of natural resources. I believe in this mission, it truly does bring prosperity to rural areas especially, places without options - places that are not likely to receive benefits from other development strategies.

Tomorrow, I will begin to work out scheduling and details for my visit.

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