Editor’s Note
December 2013
Write of Passage
Map: Ryan Morris, NGM Staff

A quest, says journalist Paul Salopek, is the oldest form of storytelling there is. The quest he has set out to do is about the biggest one there is, as well. “To Walk the World”—the title of his article in this issue—sums it up. He has begun the first leg of an epic journey, the initial chapter in his Out of Eden Walk project, a retracing of the migration of the first modern humans who walked out of Africa to explore the world.

It’s a walk across 2,500 human generations and 60,000 years of human history. It will span four continents and 21,000 miles, but it’s more than just a retracing. It’s a way to tell important stories of our time—stories about cultural survival, conflict, and climate change, stories about differences and similarities. “News as pilgrimage,” Paul calls it.

“I am searching for the hidden connections that link global stories,” he says. “By walking, I am forced to slow down. The world blurs and flattens with speed. On foot there is clarity.”

The story begins in Ethiopia at Herto Bouri, the archaeological site where some of the oldest human bones have been uncovered. It will wind up years from now in Tierra del Fuego, where the continental migration of our ancestors ended. You might say this long journey is the culmination of everything Paul has done as a prizewinning journalist. He’s covered wars, traversed the Sahel, canoed the Congo River. But his impulse to walk the world has little to do with physical accomplishment. Rather, it’s about creating a portrait of humanity at the beginning of the third millennium, one step at a time.

blog comments powered by Disqus