Out of Eden: The Seven Year Walk


Salopek and a guide walk through Eastern Turkey
Photo by Murat Yazar via Instagram

Why would a man walk over 38,000km? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid tell about Paul Salopek's 7-year walking journey around the world.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Scientists say that the earliest humans came out of Africa around 60,000 years ago. The theory is that humans migrated, or moved, from one area to another. They started in the country of Ethiopia. From there, humans spread to the rest of the world. Scientists have found ways to make a map that shows the paths humans walked during their migration.

Voice 2 

Today, people do not need to walk across the world. They can fly in an airplane, ride on a boat, or drive in a car to anywhere they want to go. But one man, Paul Salopek, is choosing to walk. He has begun a project to walk the ancient migration path. He is calling this walking project “Out of Eden.” He will walk almost 33,800 kilometers. It will take him seven years. Today's Spotlight is on Paul Salopek and his walking trip around the world.

Voice 1 

Salopek is a famous journalist. For many years, he reported on news from all around the world. He wrote stories about conflict, culture, the environment, and science in more than 60 countries. He won major awards for his writing. But after all this, Salopek wanted to do something different. He wanted go slowly. He told the news organization NPR,

Voice 3 

"I travelled around the world as a foreign reporter. After flying in to tell stories, driving into them, even helicopter-ing in, I thought about what it would be like to walk between stories."

Voice 2 

Salopek decided to travel the slowest possible way – walking, just like human ancestors did. Salopek wants to connect the ancient stories of our human ancestors with the stories of our time. He wants to look at development and progress. He wants to see what humans long ago saw. He thinks this experience will help him find a different kind of story. These stories can show us more about what it means to be human. And Salopek believes that he needs to find these stories slowly. He wrote on the website Kickstarter,

Voice 3 

"I have come to recognize that the major stories of our time are connected. We can only see this connection when we slow down. So I am trying to return to a more human speed of story-telling - to dig deeper into the important stories we do not see because we are always moving too fast to listen."

Voice 1 

Salopek began his seven year walk in January of 2013. He started in the beautiful Rift Valley in Ethiopia. Since then, he has travelled up through Africa into the desert of Saudi Arabia. Then he walked through Israel and Turkey.

Voice 2 

In 2015, Salopek began his walk across Asia. He will continue to walk through Russia, where he will cross the Bering Sea to the top of North America. The last part of his walk will take him down the coasts of North and South America. Hopefully, in 2020, he will end at Tierra del Fuego, the very bottom of South America.

Voice 1 

Salopek must travel with only the things he needs. He travels with a light laptop, a satellite telephone, a local cell telephone, a camera, and a digital recorder. He also travels with local guides and language translators. While he travels, he writes stories about what he sees and experiences. The science and nature magazine National Geographic is helping to pay for his project. National Geographic publishes Salopek's stories during his walk. And more than 200 schools and universities follow Paul Salopek’s stories on the internet. They use them as a learning tool.

Voice 2 

One of the first things Salopek wrote about was how technology is changing the world. He told NPR,

Voice 3 

"I will be walking through what is probably the greatest change in human thought since the invention of farming: the wiring of the world. Today, about a third of humans are connected through information technology like the internet. By the time I walk across my finish line in 2020, that connection will be complete."

Voice 1 

Salopek’s journey has let him see many different and interesting things. During his trip, Salopek saw Ethiopian tribes who survived by hunting. They did not drive cars or use computers. But they owned cell phones!

Voice 2 

Walking has also helped him to see great natural beauty. When Salopek traveled through the West Bank in Israel, he found beautiful golden hills and amazing trees. But he also heard the sounds of gunfire in the distance. Violent conflict like this is another major issue Salopek writes about. The earth’s physical beauty and the hard reality of war often do not seem to connect or make sense together.

Voice 1 

Because of war, Salopek also witnessed one of the biggest mass movements of people in modern history. In September of 2014, Salopek was near the Syrian border in Turkey. In just 72 hours, he saw almost 100,000 Kurdish Syrians flee Syria. He told NPR,

Voice 3 

"One of the defining parts of being a refugee is that you are reduced to being back on foot. The Turkish military forced these people to leave all their vehicles at the border. And so they walked, without power, into these new lives dusty, hot, and on foot. It was a very sad, serious time."

Voice 2 

During his walk, Salopek has also been in dangerous situations. He almost died when crossing the mountains in Turkey. He and his guides were almost 3,000 meters high in the mountains. The snow kept getting deeper and deeper. Then they fell through the snow. So they decided to find safety in a valley. But their feet were frozen. Murat, the Turkish guide, had to burn some of his own clothes to light a fire. Salopek was cold and afraid. But he and his guides finally found a way to safety.

Voice 1 

Salopek was also afraid in Israel. He was traveling with a Palestinian guide. They thought everything was peaceful. But there was a protest that day. The Israeli military began firing rubber bullets very near them. But Salopek and his guide managed to escape.

Voice 2 

Through his travels Salopek is telling the stories he sees today. But he sees how these stories are all connected. They are all about humans – people. As he slowly moves across the earth, he hopes to tell more and more stories.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Out of Eden: The Seven Year Walk’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Would you walk over 38,000 km around the world? What do you think you might learn?

Comments


unique's avatar
unique
said on February 17, 2016

I think there are a lot of different way to learn any information about the whole world. It is very dangerous to walk alone over the world.

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Honneur
said on April 14, 2020

38.000 kilometers is almost a complete spin around the earth. I think it’s a big trip, but I won’t learn more or less I will in my trip to the place baker of my street. Men are equals in every part of world do not matter they are young or old; white, black or yellow male or female… There is no surprise in the world…
Thank you for more this great text and program!

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kenhieuloilam
said on April 16, 2020

Each of us has abilities and limits. We learn and train a lot so that we can live to be good persons and we can live a beautiful good life. We go to discover achievements and beauties and know about limits and influences of limits. We wish a beautiful good world. If we do not make an effort, we will not be able to reach achievements. If we do not make an effort, we will not be able to overcome limits. Life goes up when good thing goes up and not-good thing goes down. Life goes down when good thing goes down and not-good thing goes up. Each of us has abilities and limits. We learn and train a lot so that we can live to be good persons and we can live a beautiful good life. We know to aim at good thing. We know to keep away from not-good thing.