National Geographic : 2014 Dec
6 national geographic • December 2014 Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief PHOTO: JOHN STANMEYER Paul Salopek pauses in the Kidron Valley in the West Bank. The Journey Continues Out of Eden Walk FROM THE EDITOR It’s a truism that men won’t ask directions. At least the men I know won’t. Paul Salopek is the exception that proves the rule: On his 30-million-step, 21,000-mile, seven-year journey, Paul is one man willing to inquire about the way forward. “I want to embed into the local cultures,” he told me recently, as we walked in a hot, dusty corner of southern Turkey, just north of the Syrian border. Asking directions, he finds, not only gets you where you are going but also unlocks something deeper. “It gives the locals a chance to tell you about their city, about their story,” Paul said. “They know more than you ever will.” Sharing rich, contextual narratives is the point of his quest. Paul is undertaking a solo walk (with the exception of a small cast of guides, camels, mules, and the occasional visitor) that retraces the 60,000-year-old path of early humans, from the ancient site of Herto Bouri in Ethiopia to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, the last corner of the continents settled by our ancestors. In an age of instant global news, Paul’s determination to engage in what he calls “slow journalism” is a remarkable storytelling experiment for hurried times. Paul, joined intermittently by photographer John Stanmeyer, has been documenting his journey ever eastward in National Geographic, including his trip through the Holy Land featured in this issue. And he regularly posts stories, his own photos, videos, and audio clips online at outofedenwalk.nationalgeographic.com. He encounters destitute refu- gees fleeing conflict, wealthy pilgrims seeking salvation, business people, nomads, farmers, everyone. He stops—to ask directions, to talk, to listen, to synthesize. Only then does he write. As you read this, he has been on the road for almost two years, distilling the best from the oldest and newest forms of storytelling. “I am reminded often,” he says, “of St. Augustine’s rapture on this long, slow, improbable walk: How late have I loved thee, oh beauty, so ancient and so new.” We are honored to be a partner with Paul Salopek on this epic endeavor. Join us.