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Brian Dispatch

Beginnings and Endings
May 6, 2000

The strangest thing happened to me today. I woke up in the morning and realized I was in the state of New York. Yikes! How did that happen? Shouldn't I be in India, sweating with all the other trekkers and giving you the inside scoop on all the latest and greatest news? Well, the trek rolls on, and some of us trekkers stay behind while the others keep riding into the sunset. Abeja, Jasmine, Monica, and Kavitha just keep on truckin' across the world in search of that perfect dispatch. Andrew came back after going home for a while, and now he has rejoined the team in India. It's like a game of musical trekkers! For a few days it seemed like I might not be able to leave Iran. Do you remember our adventures and frustrations trying to get visas into Iran?

Well, once they let you in it can be just as hard to leave. Our last week in Iran was a flurry of embassy visits, telephone calls and airline offices. I needed a plane ticket home, and everybody else needed visas for India. And we also needed to extend our 30-day tourist visas that expired before the end of our stay. So for a week our daily routine was the same: wake up, eat, climb in the van, drive around Tehran, go to the Indian embassy, go to the airline office, go to the bank, sit in the car, drive to another office, come home, eat, go to sleep. Sometimes we felt like dogs chasing our own tails.

Every office would either tell us to come back the next day or tell us to visit another office down the street. It seemed like nothing was getting done, and our departure dates were quickly approaching. Hadi kept reassuring us that everything would work out, and in the end he was right. I wasn't sure until I passed the last security guard in the airport. I was on the 31st day of a 30-day visa, so it was technically illegal for me to be in the country unless I filed for an extension. We had heard stories of people who were kept in the country because of expired visas; causing them to miss their flights home. But I had to catch that flight because there was a connecting flight in Bucharest that could not be changed. I walked up to the customs booth, handed him my passport, crossed my fingers and held my breath. He looked at it for a moment, flipped through the pages, and then spoke those four dreaded words, "Your visa has expired."

Ugh. My heart and my stomach hit the ground, and I turned and looked at Hadi who was waiting to wave good-bye. "They said my visa has expired and I can't leave." He almost looked as shocked as I did, and he told me to wait for a moment. He dashed off into the crowd, and a few moments later he returned with another guard who waved me through. Wow, that was a close call! But Hadi knew that it would work out the whole time. And of course it did work out, the rest of the team got their visas and their tickets too, and now they are exploring every nook and cranny of India. Which leaves me to explore the nooks and crannies of New York. It's not quite as exotic, but the weather's nice. I am working at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, and there are always plenty of opportunities to meet new and amazing people. But none of them are named Jasmine, Kavitha, Abeja, Monica, or Andrew. Waaahhh!!

I will miss them, and I will also miss being a part of the Odyssey. We are all participating in a new and powerful form of education that may shape teaching in the future. As your eyes and ears, we have had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people in the last few months. People like Okan, who made a difference with their dreams and ideas and refused to take no for an answer. We can all make a difference, and as a part of the Odyssey, I am often reminded of that fact.

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So I guess this is good-bye for now. WAAAAHHHH!!!!! Say it isn't so!!! Can I press rewind and do it again? It was just so much fun! And challenging too! Even though I am home now, I know that my life has changed forever; once a trekker, always a trekker. You can take the trekker out of the trek, but you can't take the trek out of the trekker.

I'm not good at long goodbyes, but I do enjoy saying thank you. So thank YOU for being a part of the Odyssey. Thank you for being curious and adventurous and thank you for all your questions. I hope we answered some of them for you. It is so great to know that you are out there and following along with us. We do it for you. Have fun!


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Abeja - Lost in Bombay
Andrew - The Things We Do for Love -- The Story Behind the Taj Mahal
Jasmine - Indiana Jazz and the Temple of Doom...or Not
Kavitha - Delhi -- The City I Love to Hate
Monica - The Eternal Light Shines Brightly: Amar Jyoti, a School for the Differently-abled

Meet Abeja | Abeja's Archive

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