1 year down: American walking from Africa to Chile

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm •  Published: November 20, 2013
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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — In Paul Salopek's first year of his trek across the globe, the reporter walked alongside his camels for days in Ethiopia without seeing glass or bricks or any other signs of modern humanity, ate a hamburger on a U.S. military base and was shadowed by minders in the Saudi desert. He has only 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) to go.

Salopek is walking from Ethiopia to Chile, a seven-year journey that aims to reproduce man's global migration. Beauty and difficulty filled his first year, which is now nearly complete. In his second he will skirt the violence of Syria but will cross Iraq and Afghanistan.

After about 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) on foot, Salopek has walked through five languages (Afar, Amharic, Arabic, French, Somali), filled 40 notebooks full of words, said goodbye to four camel companions and has logged one 34-mile (55-kilometer) day.

Beginning in Ethiopia's Rift Valley, where early man lived, Salopek walked east into Djibouti, where he ate a hamburger on a U.S. military base, then waited nearly six weeks — because of insurance requirements over piracy attack fears — for a boat to take him over the Red Sea and into Saudi Arabia.

Much of Africa, the 51-year-old noted, is still dominated by humans who travel on foot.

"The Africa segment was remarkable for its kind of historical reverberations, and getting to go through historical pastoral cultures like the Afar, and walking through a landscape still shaped by the human foot," Salopek said by telephone. "It really has struck me that walking out of Africa, a place that still walks, how fantastically bound to our cars the rest of the world is."

Salopek's journey will take him from Africa, through the Middle East, across Asia, over to Alaska, down the western United States, then Central and South America, ending in Chile. That's about 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometers).

The walk is called Out of Eden and is sponsored by National Geographic, the Knight Foundation and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. A two-time journalism Pulitzer Prize winner, the American plans to write one major article a year, the first of which appears in December's National Geographic.



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