Salopek Back on His Feet in Yunnan
Paul Salopek first set out from Ethiopia in 2013. “My aim has been simple,” he told National Geographic, “to foot-brake my life, slow down my thinking, my work, my hours. Unfortunately, the world has had other ideas. Apocalyptic climates crises. Widespread extinctions. Forced human migrations. Populist revolts. A mortal coronavirus.”
His walk was halted in Myanmar for 18 months, but on October 15 he was finally able to continue his Out of Eden quest. Salopek was required to fly to Shanghai, quarantine, and then fly to the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. The closest he could get to the Myanmar-China border was the village of Yusan, 47 miles from the border and 251 miles from Mandalay, where health restrictions stopped his progress.
Salopek wanted to avoid skipping ahead but was left with no other choice: “For the first time since 2013, I have boarded a plane and hopscotched ahead—into China. How to describe such an experience after spending a sixth of my life at boot level? Drunkenness. Intoxication. Unearned speed has pressed on my chest like the gravity of an alien planet.”
In the village of Yusan he marked milestone 74 of his long journey. The milestone marked 7,550 miles and 3,183 days since he set out.