PAUL SALOPEK November 22, 2013
ON THE GULF OF AQABA, Jordan — I am walking across the world. In January I set out on foot from Herto Bouri, an early site of Homo sapiens fossils in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia, to retrace the pathways of the first anatomically modern humans who colonized the planet at least 60,000 years ago. My finish line is in Tierra del Fuego, at the chilly tip of South America, the last nook of the continents settled by our ancestors. This long ramble will last seven continuous years. It will span 21,000 miles. (I have logged about 1,700 miles to date.)
I’m writing dispatches along the way for National Geographic on subjects as varied as human evolution and conflict, nomadism and climate change. The “Out of Eden Walk,” as I’m calling it, uses deep history as a mirror for current events. But even as I adhere strictly to my brand of bipedal journalism, trying as it were to put myself in a Pleistocene state of mind, cars keep roaring into my awareness. They are inescapable. They are without a doubt the defining artifacts of our civilization.