Friday, 1 February 2013

Seven Years to Walk Humankind's History: Paul Salopek's Excellent Project

Just came across a fascinating adventure that will retrace (more or less) humankind's trek out of Africa and around the world.  Writer Paul Salopek is calling it "Out of Eden:" he proposes to begin this year in Ethopia and trek into the Middle East and beyond, crossing Eurasia, grabbing a boat across part of the Bering Strait and then going south all the way to Patagonia.

The adventure will take seven years, and he'll be writing stories for magazines along the way.  The first of his regular blog entries was made 10 days ago as he set off from Herto Bouri, Ethiopia, 10°17'12'' N, 40°31'55'' E.

Salopek explains: "It is a hegira across 2,500 human generations. Across 22,000 miles of our planet’ssurface. And across seven years of my life. Far from being a stunt, it is a seriousnarrative project that draws together all the strands of my experience as a traveler and a journalist—innumerable journeys to among distant rivers, mountains and highways, plus a background in natural science—and braids them into the ultimate story of us: an “assignment” in the spirit of Herodotus, or of the medieval Islamic traveler Ibn Battuta. Alternating between deep history and the cacophony of contemporary life that I’ll encounter along the trail, it is, in sum, a very long walk into our becoming."

Wow!  There may be  a little hyperbole in there, but the idea is something I wish I'd thought of when I was young and unattached.  You can be sure, I'll be following Salopek's reports with interest.

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