21,000-mile, seven-year walk nears end of first year
— Paul Salopek (@PaulSalopek) November 7, 2013
Paul Salopek walked 1,300 miles since January and he only has a bit under 20,000 to go.
The 51-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is in the first year of a seven-year, 21,000-mile trek that takes him through Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Alaska and the western United States, Central America and South America, where the journey will end at the southern tip of Chile. The walk, “Out of Eden,” sponsored by National Geographic, The Knight Foundation, and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, aims to retrace the steps of mankind’s global migration.
His walk began in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia as he set off eastward through Africa, a land he told the AP was “still shaped by the human foot.” After waiting a month and a half in Djibouti due to insurance concerns over piracy attacks, Salopek crossed the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia, where he believes he was the first outside journalist to walk through the kingdom since 1918.
Except for limited access to information and his family, Salopek told the AP he didn’t really miss the Western world — though he does miss his family. His wife plans to join him in his current location of Jordan.
In a Twitter chat Wednesday, the most useful gadget on the trip was said to be a pen and paper. Salopek, who told the PBS NewsHour in 2012 that he was worried about finding a space in today’s world for long-form journalism, has filled 40 notebooks with his observations about his journey thus far and will write one lengthy article a year recounting his travels, the first of which is set to appear in December’s National Geographic.
“This has been very fun and very interesting and I have no indication as I sit that I’m getting bored with it. On the contrary, walking into a new country on foot with your clothes on your back and a shoulder bag stuffed with notebooks was really fascinating.”
Iraq and Afghanistan are on the itinerary for his second year.