Some weeks ago, I wrote a poem inspired by Paul Salopek's Out of Eden walk, his seven-year quest to cover -- on foot -- the original migratory journey of humankind. (You can find my poem on the Out of Eden blog -- Couplets and kilometers -- and it's now available in April Dailies, which you can read about here.) If you have any interest in travel, I can't commend Paul's work to you highly enough. You can read his chronicle of his journey at National Geographic, and on the companion website you can listen to audio clips, look at photographs, and encounter other multimedia glimpses of where he's been.
As it happens, these last several weeks he's been walking through some places to which I have a deep attachment. (Me and just a few other people, as it happens.) His most recent blog post is about a city I revisited only six weeks ago:
"This place is too complicated," says Yuval Ben-Ami, my walking partner in Jerusalem. He is a big man with gentle eyes. A writer. A radio host. A street singer—a bard. He has hiked Israel’s entire perimeter along its borders. He knows its village bus stations. Its cheap Ethiopian restaurants. Its most scenic battlefields. He has been up all night thinking. "The only way we can do this--"
And with a blue pen he draws a curlicue...
That's from Vortex: Walking Jerusalem, the most recent dispatch from Paul. Later in the essay he writes:
In a 5,000-year-old city where changes in neighborhood zoning rules earn international headlines—such is the ferocity of ownership over each square inch of Jerusalem—we orbit painful questions of identity, of zealotry, of personal loss, of national survival. We trudge over a hundred lonesome boundaries—invisible and monumental—that Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalemites do not cross...
I found his post incredibly resonant with my own sense of the city. It's poignant, surprising, and thoughtful.
Once you read it, click through to the walking Jerusalem map. You can see the dotted line of his walking journey through the city, and if you click on any one of the little icons, you'll be taken to a photograph taken in that spot. (As it happens, one of the first icons I clicked turned out to be the bookstore where I went for lunch with Bethlehem Blogger -- the place where I purchased Crossing Qalandiya, which I just reviewed recently.)
I'm looking forward to continuing to read Paul's dispatches -- especially as he walks through places which are entirely unknown to me. But there's something especially powerful about reading his words, and seeing his photos, from a place which I am fortunate enough to already know and love.