National Geographic


Near Al Quweirah, Jordan, 29°42'56" N, 35°17'14" E

We walk out of the desert and come to where the Earth rises and falls beneath our footsteps in long, regular wales, like corduroy—fields of plowed sand. The hills of Wadi Rum fade in iron-colored light. Dusk is falling. It grows colder by the minute. A path leads through the thickening dark to tents that glow yellowly from within, like belled medusas adrift in a sunless sea. We tether our two cargo mules to large stones. We approach the first tent.

“Sala’am aleukum,” calls Hamoudi Enwaje’ al Bedul, my guide.

Another day of life. Hamida and her daughter Sara wait for the sun to warm the world. Photograph by Paul Salopek

Another day of life. A refugee and her daughter wait for the sun to warm the world. Photograph by Paul Salopek

The tent, which had been noisy with voices, falls silent. A man throws back the flap, and after an exchange in Arabic that lasts no longer than 30 seconds, he waves us in. Fifteen people sit inside atop foam mattresses. A sad-faced woman layered in sweaters—blue tribal tattoos dot each of her wrinkled cheeks, dot her chin—loads more sticks into a small woodstove. She beckons us to sit near the heat, in a circle of staring, wild-haired children. She pours us glasses of syrupy tea. She serves us a platter of fresh tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes, fried broccoli.

“There is no meat,” the man apologizes. “Here, we only dream of chicken.” Everyone in the tent laughs.

They are tomato pickers. They are Bedouins from Syria.

The field of tomatoes awaits. And then another. And another. Photograph by Paul Salopek

The field of tomatoes awaits. And then another. And another. Photograph by Paul Salopek

Officially, there are 550,000 Syrian war refugees in Jordan. But most people know better. The true number might be twice that. Tens of thousands of refugees languish inside two gigantic UN camps. Others drift into urban slums where they beg at potholed intersections. And many more, like the 104 people encamped outside Al Quweirah, rent out their muscles at desert farms. Many Jordanians complain bitterly about these guests. Unemployment is ruinously high in Jordan, where the local poor can’t find work. The small country has been staggered over the years by throngs of Iraqi refugees, by long-homeless Palestinians, by émigrés fleeing troubled Egypt. Syrians are just the latest neighbors to arrive in exodus. They are a breaking wave of war-displaced people that ripples back millennia, to the conquests of Babylon, to the wanderers led by Moses through the wilderness.

Our host, a small, friendly, energetic man, tells this story:

Bashar al-Assad, the chinless ophthalmologist who presides over the abattoir called Syria, sent tanks against his own people the summer of 2011, following the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring. Shells ripped into bakeries, plowed into parks, drilled into apartment blocks. Soldiers shot every sheep and cow in sight. Wheat crops were torched. “We burned our family papers, our shoes, to survive the winter,” the man says. “There was no bread. We tried grass to try to stop our hunger.” Then one night he and his family—he sweeps an arm around the tent—grabbed their chance. They slipped through the siege lines and crossed into Jordan. The snow on the mountain passes reached their knees. They carried the smallest children.

Forty of the 104 Syrian refugees at the tomato pickers' camp are children. Photograph by Paul Salopek

Of the 104 Syrian refugees at the tomato pickers’ camp, 40 are children. Photograph by Paul Salopek

“War, war, war. Syria goodbye.” He slaps his palms together, cleaning off imagined dust. “It’s finished!”

All of the tomato pickers came from the same Syrian province, from villages near the ancient city of Hamāh. Poor, star-crossed Hamāh! In 1982, the country’s then dictator—Al-Bashar’s father—leveled the city during a previous uprising. (The CIA is believed to have supported the toppling of Syria’s first elected president in 1949, initiating an unforeseen chain of coups that led to the Al-Bashar regime.) Hamāh fell to Tamerlane in 1400. It fell to Crusaders in the 1108 and before that to Muslim armies in the seventh century. Almost 3,000 years ago, an Assyrian conqueror named Sargon II captured Hamāh and flayed alive its king.

About 120,000 people have died in the current civil war. I ask the man if he has lost any family members. He nods. A brother. A son. Shot by government troops in Hamāh. The woman gets up and leaves the tent. She doesn’t come back. We all sit quietly for a moment under her beautiful handiwork: fine embroideries called sarma, which she has pinned to the inside walls of the canvas. She lugged these gold and white remnants of home with her across the Jordanian frontier.

In the icy morning Hamoudi and I heft our saddlebags onto the mules. The animals have gorged overnight on too-ripe tomatoes. The fields around the camp are garish with them. Hamoudi, a tribal man, a Bedouin, gives the woman, who has reappeared to brew tea, the jacket off his back. He gives her our cheese.

“It’s cheese,” he assures her when she stares at the foil-wrapped wedges in her calloused palms. She raises the cheese to her forehead. “Praise God,” she says.

We walk on.

“Solvatur ambulando,” Diogenes proclaimed: “It is resolved by walking.” But do you actually believe that grief can be walked away? It is like these goddamned tomatoes. Given the hands that picked them for $11 a day, you would think they would be inedible—too bitter to swallow. Toxic with pain. But they aren’t. They are good tomatoes. They taste just fine.

There are 139 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. HikerBob
    January 9, 2014

    Fantastic to read about firsthand. The sorrow cut my heart.
    The UN is opining the Syrian refugee crisis will be the most costly in modern history. I couldn’t read this without crying.
    Say, you travel with good folk, like Hamoudi.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      Thanks, Bob.

  2. mary
    January 9, 2014

    Thank you, Paul,for another terrific post.The photos. of beautiful children with expressions of acceptance in their young eyes, brings tears to my own. I am so enamored of your knowledge of history and current events, that creates such fabulous reading. Stay safe.

  3. James Janega
    January 9, 2014

    I felt it, Paul. Walk gently. — Jas.

  4. Katie =^..^=
    January 9, 2014

    It feels very sorrowful – and as a handicrafter myself, just even the thought of the loss of something leisurely to do with my hands is too much to imagine…Much less my home.

    Travel safe, Paul.

  5. Robin Emery
    January 9, 2014

    I cannot stop from tearing up as I continue to read the posts in your blog that speaks to the generosity, love and kindness of my human family worldwide. Please keep bringing us back to the reality of our Oneness in this world. May The Lord continue to bless you and give you safety in your travels.

  6. yasna mc Donald
    January 9, 2014

    i also cried reading your story
    you Paul have so much knowledge and beautiful heart to write so well and with so much of your own insights that we can’t stop reading.
    we follow your long trip and support you all the way…countries you are going through are truly amazing and so are the people…just can’t understand all that unnecessary war.
    people when you get to know them, are so much better than what media
    writes about…..continue with your friends and may your tired feet feel the warmth of the earth and us your readers….Jazz

  7. Clara Kelly
    January 9, 2014

    Wow, what a story you send to us today. This really brings the war home.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      War resides everywhere, Clara. In the tracks of DNA markers from ancient invasions. In the lone, overwhelmed psychiatric hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. In the hearts and brains of countless veterans walking American streets. Tattered plastic poked up from the sandy fields of the tomato pickers. It reminded me of the clothing I’d seen peeking out of mass graves in Rwanda, Congo, Iraq, Kosovo. As for the Syrian war, the refugees are fully aware that it is an orphan conflict—there will be no rescue, from any quarter, anytime soon.

  8. Sonja Kodric
    January 9, 2014

    Felt I was right there with you, walking up to the tent.
    The sadness cuts very sharp.
    On my Twitter timeline just a few tweets above your photo-tweet of the lean breakfast, there’s a gory photo from someone in the civil war opposition – ‘the abattoir called Syria’.
    I’m so sorry for all the suffering.
    It’s good to know those people encountered a compassionate face…Thanks to you, Paul.

  9. Tevan
    January 9, 2014

    Dear Paul, thanks to your very well written report. Very sad indeed of the living condition of the refugees. A generation is lost of these wars. Be safe and God be with you.

  10. Guy Dube
    January 10, 2014

    Since yesterday I read about your big trip. It is very interesting and you are very courageous! I like a lot your posts. Thank you Paul to give us the opportunity to discover those far away countries.

  11. Cacee HU
    January 10, 2014

    Thank you! Everything gonna be ok!

  12. Azucena
    January 10, 2014

    Hi Paul,
    I really liked seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces. Timid smiles, and eyes filled with hope despite their circumstances. It’s amazing to see the resilience of the human soul, just like those tomatoes grow in such arid land.

  13. Magrebi
    January 10, 2014

    I like the previous nick. The Spanish word azucena, the name of a flower, comes from the Arabic susanah, and this from an iranian word. Thank you for the post

  14. Casey
    January 10, 2014

    Beautiful, Loved It!

  15. Matt Z
    January 10, 2014

    Your most touching installment yet. Thank you for sharing with us the human aspect of this war that is digested here in the US mainly in political terms.

  16. Arni M
    January 10, 2014

    Your incredible journey has stirred up something in my soul, Paul. Your humanity and compassion is reflected in all the wonderful human beings you have encountered so far. May the Divine carry you far safely in this spiritual journey.

  17. Karen Winterholer
    January 10, 2014

    A harsh reality that many aren’t aware of, this brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this with the world, Paul. Blessings.

    January 10, 2014

    Tears to the eyes

  19. Barbara Quinn
    January 10, 2014

    I can feel your anger and frustration in this post. How sad all this is and what a resilient people you met. Many blessings.

  20. Stephanie Saldana
    January 10, 2014

    Thank you so much for your beautiful writing about these Syrians. I am moved by the fact that, even with so little, they were able to offer such hospitality. Yet I wonder if you may have been confused by the Arabic? In addition to being a drug,”hashish” also means grass in Arabic– it seems to me that they might have been so hungry that they were trying to eat grass.

  21. Nate
    January 10, 2014


  22. Joe
    January 10, 2014

    Paul, thanks for giving us all a brief window into the burdens people carry from war. I hope that their life will improve over time.

  23. no1special
    January 10, 2014

    Is there any game in the area? Rabbit or some kind of fowl bird perhaps.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      Not even rabbits, no1special. The deserts of Jordan, excepting some fenced nature preserves, are essentially hunted out.

  24. Maria Candida da Conceição Gomes
    January 10, 2014

    Thank you so much Paul for your beautiful and real posts, they show the hard reality which these peoples live. i´m going be attentive your epic trip, your odysseia!! Be safe and God protect and bless you!

  25. Catherine G. (Cathie) Freeman
    January 10, 2014

    How many refugees can Jordan handle without help from the UN? They are already over-run with refugees from other countries.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      The UN refugee agency administers two large camps and distributes food and other supplies to registered refugees living among the general population. Its budget in Jordan has ballooned from $63 million in 2010 to $430 million this year. But it is still struggling to cope with the huge influx from Syria.

  26. Linda Hoernke
    January 11, 2014

    You have touched my heart and soul with this story of the people of war..of their compassion and of yours~~

  27. Nita Gupta
    January 11, 2014

    Such a touching story. So much sadness yet so much hospitality among these Syrian refugees.How come people in power are so blind to such suffering? After they have children too. I pray these situations are going pass and better times will come. Paul you are bringing people’s hopes and despair together. This will hopefully bring peace. Pray we can all share your feelings of joy and sorrow. Thanks for letting us share your experience.

  28. monique hersh
    January 11, 2014

    That courageous smile and look in his eye on the little fellow forefront in photo….ripped @ my heart. I will never understand human aggression as long as I live. What good becomes of it?

  29. Jim Grubba
    January 11, 2014

    Mr. Salopek, Hello again. Hope all is well. I watch your journey with a smile on my face, an increasing respect for your tenacity, & bit of envy, as I have a bit of a problem walking to my mailbox, much less thinking about walking around the world. Thank you for sharing. I must also add that I find the comments of my fellow followers of your trek enlightening! While I do not know you or any of them, I am becoming connected to you all, which I am beginning to think is one of your major goals. Namaste

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      Thanks, Jim. This is a laboratory. We’re making it up—together—as we go. Glad to have you along.

  30. ASMA
    January 12, 2014

    I agree with Stephanie Saldana about the hashish word. Some of my old friends are in that country and this story brought me so much sadness and sorrow. Stay safe and godspeed.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      You’re right ASMA. We’ve corrected it.

  31. Tracey G
    January 12, 2014

    Thank You to Paul and all who have made this trip possible and brought this story to the world. We all are traveling together.

  32. HikerBob
    January 12, 2014

    I am thinking of this poem, reading all this loving comments wishing you well, Paul S.
    “Walking. I am listening to a deeper way.
    Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.
    Be still, they say. Watch and listen.
    You are the result of the love of thousands.”
    -Linda Hogan

  33. Christy Costigan
    January 12, 2014

    Hi Paul,
    Your some Man for one Man,loving your comments.

  34. ernielara
    January 12, 2014

    Is wish I could begin wiyh you one this journey. But I small not able too walk order good one and long hike. Reading feels like I’m walking with you.

  35. Onni Milne
    January 12, 2014

    As commented above, I felt sad reading this contribution. Meaningful sharing – (the Syrian family shared food though they had little), you and your guide shared a jacket and cheese. This reminds me of the 1914 Christmas truce when German and Allied troops celebrated and shared in the trenches. Both situations show the true spirit of human beings when we have an opportunity to see beyond “stranger” and “the enemy”. I feel outraged that the UN has not handed a bill for the Syrian conflict to Russia and China. Both those countries have done all they can to ensure the violence continues so they can profit from selling armaments and weapons. Meanwhile, innocent people are dead or displaced. When will we ever learn. When will we say “No more” and mean it.

  36. Pranav Krishnan
    January 14, 2014

    Hello Paul,
    I’m thirteen years old and writing from India, and I’m deeply inspired. Though I subscribe to National Geographic, I got to know about your walk only in late November, but since then have gone through all of your trail notes. I dream about journeys such as yours, but maybe not of such large scale. I want you to know i support you all the way, and if ever in the seven years it will take, you feel fatigued or think of giving up, think of all the people around the world living their dream – in you.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 15, 2014

      Your support gives my step a boost, Pranav. Many thanks.

  37. Scott
    January 15, 2014

    Solvatur ambulando is also the motto for the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society. Thanks Paul Your posts are indeed inspiring enough to take our eyes off our own narrow frame-of-mind, and for that I can only thank you…

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      Great to have you along, Scott. And for those readers who aren’t familiar with it, the Escaping Society commemorates the Allied aircrews who made their way to freedom after being shot down over WWII Europe.

  38. Eva Maria Huschka
    January 15, 2014

    Where are the mothers of all these children? Do they pick tomatoes too?

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      The adults do most of the heavy work, Eva, but I saw kids laboring in the fields, too.

  39. TJ Jennex
    January 16, 2014

    I too just learned of your journey in the December edition of National Geographic. You’ve given us a wonderful gift filled with inspiration, hope, compassion, wisdom and knowledge. I share Mr. Grubbs sentiment of feeling “connected”. I feel connected to a world I knew very little about. I, like the 13 year old from India, am reading all your trail notes and every step you take “boosts” my courage to someday gift back to others as you are doing now. My mom always taught me “love and compassion begin at home, so I will start my journey by paying your gift of enlighten forward to my family and to you my friend I sent positive thoughts filled with energy to continue, strength to endure what lies ahead and a watchful eye to keep you safe.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      Thanks, TJ. I like your thinking. Sometimes, it’s tougher to see the pain right in front of us, and easier to feel compassion for those suffering far away, because distant lives often seem simpler, less complicated than our own lives and communities. That’s an illusion, of course. The most difficult charity is personal. But it’s often the most important.

  40. Jared Baker
    January 17, 2014

    Thank you Paul for your insight into an intimate portrait of the repercussions of this tragic conflict. The resilience and beauty of the human spirit as well as the generosity shared between you and your hosts reminds me that as humans, what brings us together is far more powerful than what separates us. Appreciate reading your stories and like many others, praying for your continued safe journey.

  41. Barry J Gifford
    January 17, 2014

    Thank you Paul for these dispatches. They are amazing. Your knowledge of the area, the history and the cultures are incredible. From the pictures it seems the children still have hope. It’s hard to understand why. Tears streaming down my face as I write this. I’ve been to Syria many times but not since this conflict broke out. These people are paying with their blood for the brutality of the regime. Please be careful, you are in a dangerous area. Be safe.

  42. anastasia doherty
    January 18, 2014

    sitting in the dark before daybreak here in California, the image of camel bellies full of ripe tomatoes and the sharp sting of cold dry air in the dusty landscape of Jordan I’m inspired by the pictures of Syrian refugees who in spite of starvation and displacement manage to survive and even offer a smile like the one on the young boys face you posted. What struck me in looking at the picture was the expressions of the other refugees standing near him. They looked courageous and communal. I’m glad they have each other in this absurdly in humane situation. Meanwhile on the other side of the world spring has arrived 2 months ahead of schedule and people continue to clog up the highways oblivious to their impact on the problem. War comes in many guises: poverty of imagination is one of them and I sad to say Americans are choking the life out of this planet and could use a few weeks of living in a tent in sub zero weather with a pot of tomato sauce for breakfast!! Thank-you for writing honestly, it helps connect the stories we share in a real and deep way. What can I do to help?

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      I think awareness—not averting your gaze—is the crucial first step to compassion. From there, many paths diverge: donate time, resources, write letters to policymakers, take refugees into your community. Those decisions are yours. But you’ve already started.

  43. Bconove
    January 18, 2014

    Thank you for a beautiful report, that really captures the misery and resignation of the huge Syrian refugee community. What is crystal clear is that the quality of the time you are able to spend with people because of your slow pace allows for deep, thoughtful and much more moving stories than the sort of reporting even the most passionate journalists are able to do, due to the reality of their time constraints.
    Thank you!

  44. Kaisa
    January 18, 2014

    Hi Paul, May this email find your feet in good order and your Spirit calm.
    There truly is so much misery and sadness in the world, yet on a personal human scale much generosity and love. Your dispatch makes me reflect on the human condition.
    Look forward to your next post.
    Happy walking!

  45. Gary Boivin
    January 18, 2014

    No one ought forget Syria, or any suffering land. There must be enough spiritual energy generated from this and similar accounts, that the long process of recovery and regeneration finally begins.

  46. Maxine
    January 18, 2014

    Paul, You are doing what many of us are experiencing in our hearts. If my feet weren’t seven decades old, I’d be right beside you. If loving energy gives you hope and strength please know much is with you.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      Thank, Maxine.

  47. Vajira
    January 18, 2014

    Interesting and touching stories that i’ve never experienced in my life. It’s so sad hear how people struggle for survival.
    Paul,many thanks for sharing some wonderful stories with us.
    waiting for your next one.
    Paul, safe journey & good luck

  48. Cila
    January 18, 2014

    I suddenly understand the Syrian crisis in a new way. Thank you

  49. Betsy Spiegel
    January 18, 2014

    Paul your vivid prose/poetry takes me with you to the refugees from Syria, the ripe tomatoes and the unvanquished heart and generosity of the people you meet. Keep writing

  50. Joyce
    January 18, 2014

    In the 1960s I was in Africa and South america as a wild life photographer, and I saw REAL poverty, and REAL courage in both these places. Each day when I arise I give thanks to my God that I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink, enough food (and then some) to feed me and there are no bullets whizzing by my head. Your stories bring me to tears. Thank you for sharing them.

  51. Lesa Lane
    January 19, 2014

    Paul, It is nice to see some women in your photos. I realize women are “protected” from the eyes of men and their cameras. Still, it is nice to know that there are women out there in the world. And I am enjoying your walk and stories.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      It’s been a struggle, Lesa, given the gender divide in the societies I’ve walked through. But this imbalance will be corrected in the months ahead, as I gain access to half the world’s population.

  52. Lois
    January 19, 2014

    you bring the suffering into light, a reality that no one should endure…thanks Paul, your posting has touched my heart.

  53. JC
    January 19, 2014

    Your dispatches are depressing, uplifting, heartbreaking, and certainly infuriating in that people of such courage and endurance are suffering so. The intimate nature of your interaction with people as you walk around the world is much more powerful for me than the news stories in the media today. Thanks, be safe and don’t forget to plan ahead for a new pair of shoes.

  54. fulvia delisser-Nuttall
    January 19, 2014

    Thank you Paul We must petition the US Goverment to help end the War in Syria, your touching story shows how we are all connected ,by our concerns for family.

  55. sue clendaniel
    January 19, 2014

    Thank you for bringing these stories to the world.

  56. Sofía Dela Garza
    January 20, 2014

    Gracias, Paul por compartir tus vivencias, es increible lo que estas haciendo.

    • Paul Salopek
      January 26, 2014

      Es un honor.

  57. Heiko Hildebrand
    January 20, 2014

    Stupendous. I’ve been following you for the last few months and this story is heartrending and heartwarming at the same time. Stay healthy and strong. Namaste

  58. Geraldine Valiakas
    January 23, 2014

    I’ve been an avid reader of NG magazine for over four decades but never have I been brought to my knees by your baring, honest travel notes. God bless you Paul for sharing with the world your incredible trek of through humanity. We all walk with you in spirit and love for this miraculous planet.

  59. Jonathan Allen
    January 25, 2014

    Shame on the British media worrying about immigration from Romania elsewhere…we have no problem, these people have…report on this…give us perspective, insight, understanding and facts…like Paul.

  60. Helen Clements
    February 3, 2014

    This is wonderful. Its helped me understand better the troubles and hardships that people in syria are going through. I thank you so much for what you are doing.

  61. Arthur Blackwell
    February 6, 2014

    Take away the weapons of war.

  62. Lloyd Bligh
    February 7, 2014

    Thank you for relating your experiences from your Trek.This story made my Glasses smudge. It makes me feel for the people that are affected by the Syrian conflict. All the Leaders in the world should take this trip with you to give them more insight. Take care- Blessings.

  63. robin mellings
    February 8, 2014

    Wonderful descriptive posts, should be read by everyone who cares passionately about the innocent people who become the victims of current civil wars. Heartbreaking to read the powerful narrative of Paul Salopek’s posts on his travels.

  64. Veronica Fitzrandolph
    February 8, 2014

    “Unemployment is ruinously high in Jordan, where the local poor can’t find work.” Why can’t the local poor work in the tomato fields?

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Because they can’t survive on the low wages accepted, under duress, by the Syrians. According to the UN, refugees put their kids to work in order to buy food. Their children miss school. Not too many people, even the poor, will accept that sacrifice outside of a war zone.

  65. Alicia Davis
    February 13, 2014

    What can we do, really? Our aid is diverted, our aid workers thwarted at best, detained or killed at worst. When will we humans stop hurting one another? Why? my heart is broken every day. Paul, you are so brave and strong to do this. I pray each day for a cessation of the cruelty we visit upon our fellow man/woman/child. I pray that somehow your walk will help. Bless you.

  66. bill vance
    March 18, 2014

    god bless you, and safe journey all the way

  67. Jill
    March 27, 2014

    Thank you for this article, Paul. Do you know of a trustworthy group who is accepting donations to help the refugees and/ or the citizens of Jordan? I refrain from sending money or goods because I don’t know exactly where it’s going and who is using it.
    Thank you for being one to bridge the gap.

    • Paul Salopek
      April 15, 2014

      Without question the agency doing the most to alleviate the refugee crisis is the UN High Commission on Refugees. You can contribute to their efforts on this web page.

    April 12, 2014

    É isso aí Paul. Quando passar pela América do Sul hospede-se na minha casa na Rua Digitalis, 38 Parque Savoy City, São Paulo, Brasil. Grande abraço

    • Paul Salopek
      April 15, 2014

      Obrigado, Roger. São Paulo é um pouco fora do meu caminho. Mas é bom saber que eu tenho um amigo lá – apenas no caso.

  69. Win
    April 19, 2014

    On this Easter Vigil evening I offer this prayer that I intend to pray until wars end.
    O God our Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth, deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
    My tradition may be Christian, but I think perhaps all traditions and beliefs wish for that time when we can recognize that whenever we are cruel or thoughtless to another, we are actually doing that harm to ourselves! May you keep finding that wonderful hospitality in your travels that you describe so beautifully.
    Happy Easter to all.

  70. kate
    November 11, 2014

    But do you actually believe that grief can be walked away? It is like these goddamned tomatoes. Given the hands that picked them for $11 a day, you would think they would be inedible—too bitter to swallow. Toxic with pain. But they aren’t. They are good tomatoes. They taste just fine.
    I like this sentences very much.Sadness can’t be gone away.War isn’t a good way

  71. GIGEKTY.
    November 18, 2014

    Love it.Thank you for this article, Paul.You are so brave to do it.I think i can do it like you,in the future.It’s my dream.I pray each day for a cessation of the cruelty we visit upon our fellow man/woman/child. I pray that somehow your walk will help. Bless you.

  72. whisper
    November 25, 2014

    Wish no war to make them pain and thank to them leave the pure nature under the misery environment.

  73. Linda
    November 25, 2014

    It’s really heartwarming.I love the good tomatoes.

  74. Aidan
    November 26, 2014

    I see you have walked through Israel and your route now takes you to Iran. Will the Iranians let you in with an Israeli stamp in your passport?

  75. Abdul Kader Moola
    December 10, 2014

    I was fascinated with your interview with the CBC (Canada). I’ll be following your odessy until, Inshallah, you reach the tip of South America. Although not with you physically(I wish I could), I’ll be travelling with you all the way in spirit. Please take care of yourself. Khoda Hafez (may God be with you).

  76. Khaula
    February 5, 2015

    The most poignant narrative I have read in a while. Makes me shiver how war is everywhere, and the number of refugees are increasing. Concurrently, its ‘their’ stories we need upfront. Lets continue to listen.

  77. Omer G.
    February 8, 2015

    This is so tragic, it makes any reader feel sadness. It sorta makes me feel guilty for all these people having all these devastating problems while here in the U.S we dont really have to deal with this type of thing. Thank you Paul for informing us with these peoples story’s.

  78. Kayla G.
    February 8, 2015

    This article made me feel bad for the people living in Jordan. I felt this way because they had to escape their homeland that was under attack to live in another place where they only had tomatoes and that tomato picking was the only job or source of income.

  79. dylan
    February 9, 2015

    where are the childrens mothers? Do the children pick tomatoes as well or is the picking done solely by the adults?

  80. Morgan
    February 9, 2015

    This piece makes me feel very bad for the less fortunate. Why does the woman with the wrinkles have blue tattoos on her face?

  81. Zach c
    February 9, 2015

    This article was interesting because just like in any other lace in the world there is poverty. For example the people pick tomatoes, like how in California there is a very large amount of harvesters.

  82. Lanz
    February 9, 2015

    how many tomatoes do you eat?

  83. natalie
    February 9, 2015

    The people of Jordan and all its Refugees are very brave people. This article makes me feel quite worried for these people because anything can happen.

  84. Dillon
    February 9, 2015

    How many kids help work or do the mothers pick all of the tomatoes

  85. josh
    February 9, 2015

    i like how you are tell other peoples stories! keep it up paul!

  86. Richard M.
    February 9, 2015

    This article made me feel sad, because I don’t have to go through the problems that they are going through. Also how they had to get through a winter in tragedy. Along with a war where their close family members died.

  87. Erin T
    February 9, 2015

    Will the children ever be freed from the refugee camps?

  88. Ashley H
    February 9, 2015

    Wow. What an incredible story. This article made me feel sad for the people living in Jordan because the only thing they have to eat is tomatoes and they don’t have any meats so they probably don’t get very good nutrition and are probably sick a lot.

  89. makenna
    February 9, 2015

    Wow! What an incredible story. They’re all so brave. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. Must be very stressful and scary. They’re all so strong and I hope someday things get better for them.

  90. bryce
    February 9, 2015

    this article makes me feel grateful for what we have..

  91. Eric B
    February 9, 2015

    this story really touched me in many ways. it really made me feel grateful of what I have and who is surrounding me. it also made me feel sad because what they have to go though just to make some money is not right. I like many others are probably feeling the same way.

  92. Zahid
    February 9, 2015

    This article makes kinda guilty because there are a lot of people out there who are struggling and we are living peacefully here in U.S Thank you Paul, for informing us about those people.

  93. Ashley
    February 9, 2015

    This article makes me sad to see how may people dont see this upsetting situation. But also makes me feel greatful

  94. Deven
    February 9, 2015

    This article makes me feel grateful for having the things that others dont have.

  95. lancers12
    February 9, 2015

    soth are a lot of tomatoes

  96. Vivian
    February 9, 2015

    This story is truly sad & upsetting, but Paul makes these children feel like there worth the moment to spend & he truly supports there culture no matter what.

  97. Gurveer Singh
    February 9, 2015

    This story makes me sad because all of theys peopel went to so munch sadness. Does the childern help tthere moms to pick tomatoes.

  98. Gurveer singh
    February 9, 2015

    I agree with you Dillon how many childern do jobs or help there mothers

  99. Aileen
    February 9, 2015

    This is a very touching story. Thank you for inspiring many people throughout the world

  100. Gavin D. Pauley
    February 9, 2015

    This is very interesting and neat. Its amazing seeing how people live in other countries and gives me a new perspective on life.

  101. Jason
    February 9, 2015

    why are the tamatoes so big and rotten?

  102. jason l
    February 9, 2015

    Why are the tomatoes so rotten and big

  103. Emma
    February 9, 2015

    The last lines you wrote really hit me, and I wish that first world people were more aware to situations such as this.

  104. Sebastian.S
    February 9, 2015

    I don’t believe that their pain would ever able to walk the pain away. But I believe that what’s sadder is the truth that “We’re all just chalk lines on the concrete. Drawn only to be washed away.”

  105. Kadence
    February 9, 2015

    I think that it is very interesting to know the stories of these people. Its not very often we realize how lucky we are to have what we have and to be gratful for it. I think that its important to learn about these becuase of how blind we are to these situations. Thank you for sharing this toucing story with us.

  106. Kyle S
    February 9, 2015

    Why are their so many Syrian war refugees?

  107. Alicia
    February 9, 2015

    I really enjoyed the article. It made me feel sad, especially when the man said he had lost a brother and son, and also where the lady lifted the cheese up to her forehead and said “Praise God.” By the end of the article it makes me feel more grateful for what I have.

  108. Max Hill
    February 9, 2015

    Why do they let the tomatoes get rotten before they are used?

  109. Madison
    February 9, 2015

    I think its very sad but it is nice that Paul is helping these children. We really don’t realize that this is going on in the world and we need to become aware of it.

  110. jaydon
    February 9, 2015

    why are the tomatoes on the ground all gross looking why cant they put it in a better envirment for the food so it doesnt get contaminated

  111. Lenin
    February 9, 2015

    This article makes me feel bad, because it is the type of stories that aren’t shown on the media and not heard of in the mainstream, and this keeps us from helping any of the people who aren’t as privileged as us.

  112. Alex H
    February 9, 2015

    Learning about how these people live when my own life is so privileged is a real eye-opener. My biggest problems right now include tests and various school work. Having to endure a civil war, fleeing your home, working for next to nothing, it’s sad, but truly amazing how much these people have managed to put up with. My respect runs deep for them and their hardships, and I wish them best of luck with everything they’re doing, because they’ve endured enough hardship.

  113. sienha
    February 9, 2015

    This article is very moving, and reminds me just how lucky I am the be in a first world country and given our basic needs

  114. Iram
    February 9, 2015

    This article made me really upset because of how that guy was telling everyone that he lost his brother and son.

  115. John M.
    February 9, 2015

    Thanks Paul for doing this . I learned that there is no chickens around there, because they dream of eating them while we can eat every day chicken meat. Thats something what i never had known before and i enjoy to follow your tour to learn more about the world.

  116. Ana
    February 10, 2015

    I learned that there isn’t any chickens in that area. How many kids help the mother with the tomatoes

  117. zuhair
    April 19, 2015

    Thanks Paul its a great story I wish the leaders of Russia and China to read this story because they are supporting the syrian leader to kill his people by giving him the weapons by supporting him in United nation council

  118. Hubert
    November 17, 2015

    This Article made me sad because when the man lost his son and brother and it was a little bit interesting.

  119. Victoria
    March 23, 2016

    Touching story, very moving

  120. eleni papadopoulou
    March 27, 2016

    dear Paul after reading and translating to my children all your discription it started a deep talk about Syria and war and the refugees that come every day here in Athens. Thanks a lot for the opportunity to talk with my children at the classroom for such serious things that happen close to us!

  121. jason13
    April 4, 2016

    That is very sad. One of the leaders of my church was a refugee. Very touching.

  122. Sam Morrison
    April 6, 2016

    My first post(4/5/16) I am now in Jan 2014 of your journey.2 years later and still Syria!!…not to mention other “conflicts” . I hope some of your readers will be enlightened to the part we have played in some of the misery thruout our world

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