National Geographic

Stone Music

Petra, Jordan, 30°20'34" N, 35°27'16" E

“It is song about a camel. The camel is angry. It is asking the owner why he bought a pickup truck.”

“It is a song about a war.”

“It is a song about traveling.”

“It is a song about love. There are so many songs about about love.”

We are sitting in a shack outside of the ruins of Petra, Jordan, listening to Bedouin music.

Petra: the hidden heart of Nabatea—a 2,300-year-old empire, a crossroad of antiquity, of fabulous monuments, of palaces and grand avenues chiseled into a sandstone canyon far above the Rift Valley of Jordan. Towers. Columns. Stairs. Altars. Pediments. Aqueducts. Palaces. Petra is a city scooped from living rock. Its architecture rivals the majesty of Rome, the clean beauty of classical Greece—just two of the many empires with whom it traded. The Nabateans were once nomads, proto-Arabs. For centuries they monopolized the incense trade. Their gods are depicted as cubes, as pure geometry, as triangles, as abstract squares. (Al Qaum, the warrior god, a night deity who protected the caravans, was a guardian of all sleepers, whose wandering souls took the form of stars.) They held wine-soaked feasts for their dead. In Mada’in Salih, Saudi Arabia, they carved gigantic tombs from bergs of rock that stand like colossal Fabergé eggs in the barren deserts. Awesome. Imposing. Monuments to raw power. To monomania.

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Qasim Ali sings the blues, Bedouin style, at Petra, ancient heart of the Nabatean empire. Photograph by Paul Salopek

In the tin shack, Qasim Ali tightens the string on his rababa. He plucks it, listening.

The rababa is perhaps the oldest stringed instrument in the world: a Bedouin fiddle. Qasim draws the bow across the single string. He sings a sad song about an old man abandoned by his sons in the desert, a lament of ingratitude, of fecklessness. (You can play Qasim’s song above.) The sky outside is lidded with clouds. A cold rain has fallen. Inside the shack a wood stove ticks with heat. The air is yellowed by a naked bulb, by a nimbus of cigarette smoke. Other men sing along. They are all Bedul, a Bedouin tribe that migrated into the region just 200 years ago, from where nobody knows. Yet their music sounds older than the ruins around us. Nomad chords. Repetitive, sinuous, smoothed and eroded by time like the red Umm Ishrin sandstone from which Petra is carved: Paleozoic rock that flexes like a muscle along the Rift Valley, the crack that stretches southward beyond the rim of the world, all the way back to the beginning, to our journey’s start in Ethiopia.

There are 110 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Eva Maria Huschka
    January 29, 2014

    Thank you, Paul, for giving us an insight into Nabatean religion and their gods. Depicting gods by abstract symbols makes sense to modern minds.
    I also loved the sample of the nomad music. These tunes sound hypnotic and remind me of a similar musical instrument I heard, played by the Ethiopian shepherds.
    I thank you also for the beautiful language by which you paint your impressions.

  2. Linda Hoernke
    January 29, 2014

    Wonderful writing! The music played into your words. Thank you again Paul~~

  3. Nancy Bujang
    January 29, 2014

    Greetings Paul from Singapore. Thank you for
    the wonderful post. Take care!

  4. Michele Foy
    January 29, 2014

    Your writing, pictures and sounds truly give a sense of “place”. You make it very easy for us armchair travelers to be there.

  5. Tina moore
    January 29, 2014

    Thank you once again. For the music, for the pictures and your words. I instantly remember edit he lines of a poem called Petra. It has always been a dream to be where you are, to see the rose city. I live near Death Valley, CA USA. We have many beautiful natural sculptures here. Red Rock Canyon. I have often been driving and the morning sun hits just right there. I see hidden cities carved like those of Petra. There is a poem, now easily found on the net-
    It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
    by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
    But from the rock as if by magic grown,
    eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
    Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
    where erst Athena held her rites divine;
    Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
    that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
    But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
    that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
    The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
    which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
    match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
    a rose-red city half as old as time.
    Peace

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      Thanks for sharing, Tina.

  6. Adam
    January 29, 2014

    Qasim Ali’s performance was educational and, of course, inspiring! Your journey continues to educate those who follow you via your postings. The photographs and the audio selections add much to the written posting.
    Travel safely on your journey!

  7. Tevan
    January 29, 2014

    Thank you Paul for your detailed writing of Petra. I enjoy your descriptive and colorful writing of your journey. Be safe.

  8. Ramze Elzahrany
    January 29, 2014

    I think you should have included a translation of the song lyrics!
    Excllent work as it has been Paul.
    Best wishes and regards.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      I gave a synopsis, Ramze. It’s a long, long ballad—and this was just the first part of it.

  9. victor sanchez
    January 29, 2014

    Go ahead Paul. Show us the people´s world. We follow your blog from Spain

  10. Jim Grubba
    January 29, 2014

    Mr. Salopek, Greetings again. I trust you are well. And I can only say “Wow”. Please give my thanks to Qasim. I can close my eyes & feel that I am in that tin hut with you folks. Wonderful! Please also convey to him that his song & your journey easily eclipses the State of the Union address last night here in the USA. I do believe that our leaders (& by that I mean all of them on our planet) can learn how to better lead & understand the people they are entrusted to serve & protect by simply checking Out of Eden Walk every once in a while. Even tough it appears you are far from one, I wish you & your friends a fair wind and a following sea. Namaste.

  11. Mary R.
    January 29, 2014

    a couple “giants” dancing.Perhaps descendants of Petra? As always am enchanted by descriptive last post. Be well.

  12. Larry D.
    January 29, 2014

    More fabulous ruins, memories of mankinds tenure. Let us pray that they remain unharmed by the hand of man for future generations of travelers to marvel at. What would these people say now so many thousands of years later that what they built are still here amazing the pilgrims who pass by.

  13. no1special
    January 29, 2014

    Paul, how is your health and your legs? Additionally, just curious what your last meal was? Thanks in advance for always responding.

  14. Rachel MacNeill
    January 29, 2014

    I love your writing, Paul. I study and learn… The song was wonderful ~ clear and spare like the desert.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      I’m still studying and learning, too, Rachel.

  15. A. Vedat oygur
    January 30, 2014

    Thank you Paul. It’s easy to understand with your posts how the civilization has developed.

  16. anastasia
    January 30, 2014

    Here we go again bridging the gap of time and space: you in the gritty landscape of sand and the woeful sounds of a human voice expressing itself from the belly inside out. I’m feeling trapped by this form of experiencing your walk, I would prefer to be there, feeling the cold air and heavy rain while the memory of human history reveals itself through the souls of my feet.There is truly nothing like walking to “sort it out”. Thanks for your posting.

  17. nico
    January 30, 2014

    none

  18. anaosegueda559
    January 30, 2014

    omq Paul, this is really interesting . I love maps . I wish we were able to see how maps would really work , how their used .

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      I love maps, too. Take a peek into our Map Room. Our Harvard cartographer, Jeff Blossom, has created some beauties.

  19. anaosegueda559
    January 30, 2014

    nico that isn’t very nice .

  20. nico
    January 30, 2014

    wow most of this dosent really interest me at all but I like the guy that’s singing he looks like my uncle

  21. Lindsey cotterell
    January 30, 2014

    Wonderful writing and photographs.

  22. Azucena
    January 31, 2014

    That magnificent golden building isolated in the middle of the desert looks surreal, like a mirage.
    Safe travel, Peregrino del Mundo.

  23. Kusumlata
    January 31, 2014

    Wonderful effort.Music is not bound to language.It is universal. Your posts add to it.Looking forward to your visit to India.

  24. Marlene Planasch
    January 31, 2014

    Wonderful…Wow….and much more. Such a journey… What a tribute to our planet and to you..

  25. Matías Nicolás Tartara
    January 31, 2014

    I could barely imagine that beautiful places, with your posts is a little easier. I would love to visit petra some point in my life.
    Thanks again for your words, your pictures and sounds
    Matías

  26. Richard C
    January 31, 2014

    Thanks for your journey. New follower

  27. Sylvain Pascal
    February 1, 2014

    What a treat you are giving us. Can hardly believe my luck that am on to a 7year trip by your side. A big thank you again

  28. Elisabeth Bradley
    February 1, 2014

    I am somprivileged and honoured to be able to learn from your trip. Thank you. Elisabeth

  29. Silvia Fehr
    February 1, 2014

    Thanks for your posts Paul. From a sporadic follower, I’ve become one that checks for new dispatches every day. Your writing is like savouring a delicious meal. The music brings back childhood memories of small farm town Switzerland: listening to exotic sounds from other continents on my shortwave radio under the blankets at night and imagining travelling to those places. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Arshak
    February 1, 2014

    Dear Mr. Salopek,
    We know that you are now in Jordan, so you are not far away from Armenia. Students of Anania Shirakatsy lyceum invites you to Armenia. It’s a very beautiful ,cultural country and what is mostly important for you is that it has a large history, so it would be interesting for you to explore Armenia. Armenia is very old country. Here were found instruments wich were made 800 000 years ago.There are many old churches. Our religion is everything for us. We are the first country who accepted christianity. We were under the domination of arabs, monkhols, persians, turks for about 800 years, but we never changed our religion. So it would be perfect if you visit our small country, be introducted to our traditions and explore the territory. The participants of “Out of Eden walk” programme and Anania Shirakatsy lyceum wait for you visit.
    With best regards, Anania Shirakatsy lyceum students

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      Armenia is a writer’s paradise, Arshak. I’m still working on the routing through the Middle East, but I will keep your kind invitation in mind for year two of the walk.

  31. Barbara Quinn
    February 1, 2014

    One of the things I like most about these posts is the chance to hear other cultures. From water coursing over rocks in a River,the sound of feet walking across the stones to the music….it’s all,like opened doors to another time and place. Thanks again Paul. Stay safe.

  32. Patricia Sosa
    February 1, 2014

    I am telling all my friends about this amazing journey you are on. Learning a lot about our planet. Love your posting about the desert, camels and Beduins. Now all those things that seem so foreign before hit a lit closer to home through your observations.
    Absolutely want to visit Petra. Happy to see in your instagram that the Beduins are happy because they dont have to pay taxes. Curious where that comment came from. I doubt they follow US politics. Or do they?

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      They could care less about US politics. It’s simply part of the Bedouin cultural heritage to shoot the taxman. (Joke. Sort of.)

      Historically, the revenues have usually flowed the other way: Over the centuries, various Islamic empires—particularly the Ottomans—paid the martial Bedouin tribes of Arabia stipends in gold to allow pilgrims safe passage through their lands while journeying to Mecca. This didn’t always work, and accounts of early Muslim travelers are replete with attacks by desert raiders on caravans. Here’s a squib from the British news wires dated June 16, 1899:

      MOHAMMEDAN PILGRIMS ATTACKED:
      Bedouins Capture the Holy Carpet

      In connection with the annual Mohammedan religious festival in sending the Kisweh, or Holy Carpet, from Cairo to be placed in the sacred sanctuary at Mecca, a party of Bedouin attacked the soldiers who formed the escort, and a large number of pilgrims, who always accompany the Carpet. They killed six of them and captured the Carpet. They demand a 200£ ransom for the Carpet.

      The “Carpet” is the cloth that covers the Kabaa, or shrine, at Mecca during the haj pilgrimage. It was traditionally brought from Egypt.

      Today, the Bedouin are taxed like everyone else. In both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, however, they also receive generous government subsidies to help float their way of life—just like American ranchers and farmers.

  33. B.
    February 2, 2014

    following the journey

  34. ASMA
    February 2, 2014

    Paul, in a matter of one week, I went all the way to New Zealand and back while you are still walking within 250 miles or less (12 hours x 3 mph). With several airports where I had to walk for a mile or so, I kept reflecting on my walk in comparison to you were and felt ashamed! Yes my travel was efficient, but the guilt of my carbon foot print made me think you are better for the walk than I was for the efficiency! Not complaining, but your journey is going to make many people think differently (I hope) about their lives, actions, and its impact on the world! Keep on waling and thank you for all you do.

  35. Mary Radtke
    February 2, 2014

    I too am amazed and so excited about your journey. I work at an elementary school in Minnesota and have shared this with our staff and students. We will be following your journey with great excitement. Thank you.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      Don’t forget to visit our education hub, Mary. Glad to have your students join our rambling caravan.

  36. Chelsea Revell
    February 2, 2014

    Paul, do you ever pause along your route to speak to a group or make space for questions about your journey? I am a recent college grad and will be beginning two years working in Israel very soon. I e-mailed National Geographic previously to inquire about the possibility of inviting you to drop by the university I will be working at and share about your experiences in journalism, particularly this one!, but have not heard back (I understand, as I’m sure they receive quite a few e-mails). I understand that my e-mail address, though not displayed, is connected to my comment; I would love to hear back from you if at all possible. If not, blessings on your continued walk. I am deeply appreciative of the spirit of the journey and the way that you use your gifts as a journalist to share it with the rest of us.
    Best,
    Chelsea

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      I pause to speak to schools when possible, Chelsea. I’ll get in touch soon to see if we can work something out. Thanks for the kind words.

  37. SIMON FRENCH
    February 3, 2014

    Beautiful words.
    Takes me back to when i visited
    Petra – a stunning place that will stay
    in my mind for ever. Had a wonderful
    time just exploring the area and
    appreciating what the Nabateans achieved.
    Thank you

  38. Gohar
    February 3, 2014

    Hi Paul, first I want to say thank you for giving us so much information about all over the world. It was very interesting and the song…I didn’t know that now there’s the oldest string instrument and I knew a lot after reading your project.

  39. Benpast!!!
    February 4, 2014

    The camel hates the Truck

    • Paul Salopek
      February 6, 2014

      Except when the truck brings alfalfa.

  40. ninjadeathhawk
    February 4, 2014

    I would never be able to do this but I give you my support as for being so brave. I won’t put any pressure on you by listing all the things that can go wrong when you are doing this, yet I will try as much as I can to cheer you on.

  41. Holly Hayward
    February 4, 2014

    Best wishes to you on your awesome endeavor! I was hooked as soon as I read the NG article and will follow your journey with anticipation and appreciation for your insightful writing and the beautiful pictures. I feel a closeness and compassion for my fellow humans that is sorely missing in today’s world. Thank you for the “limbic memories”! Best of luck to you and your fellow explorers.

  42. Elizabeth Byers
    February 5, 2014

    This is Fantastic! Do you accept tag-alongs in a few years once I’m out of the Navy? I would like to walk the section from Alaska to Chile at least.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Expertise in navigating water might come in handy in the lawless Darien Gap, Elizabeth. My dad was a sailor in WWII. My brothers and sisters were probably the only kids on our block who knew the definition of “pogey bait.”

  43. Geraldine Valiakas
    February 5, 2014

    Thank you, again for revealing through the richness of journalism, sounds and video a people and their culture that bring to life a time forgotten.

  44. Kshitij Srikant
    February 5, 2014

    The music is out of the world. Thanks Paul for such a wonderful post. Exited about your visit to India.

  45. Lachlan Sims
    February 5, 2014

    Greetings from Italy, Paul! What you are doing is an extraordinary feat that should tighten the bonds of worldwide cultures.

  46. Tim Smith
    February 5, 2014

    Hi Paul. Our science teacher is teaching us about your walk, and I think it is incredible.From Italy
    Hi Lachlan

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      That’s great to hear, Tim. I was just told by my partners at Project Zero that more than 100 schools around the world are following along. Glad yours is one of them.

  47. Herb P.
    February 5, 2014

    Have been enjoying your travels Paul ever since reading NG. We have been wondering at what year and month you will be travelling down the west coast of B.C. Canada and what mode of travel you will be using, probably horses is our guess. We will be posting our guess next posting. Looking forward to your next post and wish you good health in your future travels! H&J

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Western Canada would be around 2018, Herb. I’ll be the subtropical guy wearing electric socks in mid-summer.

  48. Miguel Garcia
    February 6, 2014

    It was very wonderful of you to post this! I’m a composer in Houston, and it’s so hard to find anyone doing something like you and appreciating music history! Thank you again!

  49. Maria Candida da Conceição Gomes
    February 6, 2014

    Wonderful music and writing, i wish your adventure´travel continued successful, with happiness in your hurt. Take care, be safe!! I continued very attentive your travel until it finish…..seven years!!!

  50. Miguel Garcia
    February 6, 2014

    Im silly!

  51. Shawana
    February 6, 2014

    Thank you Paul and may GOD protect you.

  52. Ariane
    February 6, 2014

    Thanks for the hypnotic song… It is soft and rough simultaneously….
    Makes one get a glimps of how transient life is and all the empires and structures mankind leaves behind no matter how grand. Being nomadic (transient) connects us all in a most profound way. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  53. Linda Stepp
    February 6, 2014

    This is wonderful and thrilling writing about the past in the present; I wish I could walk with you for real, but at least I can read your artful words and live and learn along with you. I love the music and feel it is integral to the written words; please add them whenever possible. Linda Stepp

  54. Jo Currie
    February 6, 2014

    goosebumps! reminds me of driving through Wadi Rum . Awesome journey

  55. J.G. Sandom
    February 6, 2014

    This reminds me so much of the music of the Tuareg of the Maghreb (Sahara) who use the “imzad” (also a one-string instrument) to accompany their oral poetry. The Tuareg (caucasoid berbers) used to use oral poetry as a way to defuse tension, sending their bards out ahead of their armies to sing; often, the best poet would win the day, and no blood would be shed. If only our contemporary conflicts could be solved as easily! Thanks for this beautiful story and song. Reminds me so much of the 3 months I spent in Algeria on the back of a camel with the wonderful Tuareg. For those who really want to feel the music of the desert, I suggest reading “The Publicist” by Veronica Wright, which features a great scene of an “ahal” or Tuareg party where young musicians compete under the stars.

  56. Blanca Pinon
    February 6, 2014

    Oh Paul … thanks so much for sharing … for giving us a chance to be part of your experience … Petra is priceless … i do relate to the Rababa’s cry … magnificent …

  57. Suzan Shalabi
    February 6, 2014

    What a great article! I am from Jordan and I love Petra and love the way you interpreted its beauty.
    Can I suggest a tiny detail Paul, it might be a bit confusing for foreigners who haven’t been to this part of the world to see the picture of Mada’in Saleh with your title of Stone Music (in Petra, Jordan), noting that the distance between both is 288 miles (463.5 km).. I would suggest putting a picture for Petra itself. Thank you again for your beautiful words

  58. Douglas Raybeck
    February 6, 2014

    Dude, you can write!

  59. Mark Roberts
    February 6, 2014

    Glad to be a part of your journey.

  60. Sally Jennings
    February 6, 2014

    An excellent experience – and I hope Paul is enjoying it too.

  61. Christy Costigan
    February 6, 2014

    Hi Paul,
    Greetings from Dublin Ireland.
    I’m still following your amazing journey every day.
    Take care.
    Christy

  62. BruceHud
    February 6, 2014

    Very cool ,sound reminicent of Morocco influence on Page&Plant’s “No Quarter” CD, love that sound, and to be that old an instrument, Love, Qasim Ali’s singing too.
    Keep up the great work Paul…

  63. Frankenstein
    February 6, 2014

    Amazing work. Insightful and profound. I found the idea of geometrical gods truly brilliant.
    Thanks Paul….. don’t stop

  64. Anne Langs
    February 6, 2014

    I am in awe of Petra and it’s ancient builders. Your writings Paul, gives me the opportunity to “see” !!!

  65. Chuck
    February 6, 2014

    Well written Paul but you should stop using “Ethiopia” as the cradle of life because it is not. A site in Iran has been found that is 7000 years old and to date the oldest site is in Turkey called “Gobekli Tepe”, it’s around 12000 years old. Who knows what will be found next.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      The oldest Homo sapiens site with solid dating is Herto Bouri in Ethiopia, Chuck. It’s 160,000 years old. No sapiens finds this ancient have been found outside Africa. That’s not say places like Gobekli Tepe aren’t amazing—they are. (And I hope to walk to it.) But they are very recent by comparison.

  66. Lloyd Bligh
    February 6, 2014

    Thanks for your stories, it’s nice to hear what it’s like in different countries , cultures. You are like a medieval Minstrel sharing the stories on your travels. Thank you.

  67. Gary Schlosser
    February 6, 2014

    I am awestruck. Your journey brings people from everywhere, (literally) to comment, enjoy, and give their thanks. I too am one of those people as I sit in my home midst a rainstorm, We live in the drought stricken Sierra Foothills of California! Now rain!

    Your observations are so sharp yet simple and direct. Your experiences become ours, a sharing that could be lost in the hubbub of the world but is not. Please keep this up, Paul. We need you to show us a way, (not the way but a way). From the comments here your journey has become ours. Thank you for such a beautiful, clear exploration, (step by step) across our world.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Very kind, Gary. Thank you.

  68. Regula
    February 7, 2014

    Thank you Paul, for the glimpse into another world – and the music: it is soft and gentle and unlimited like their animals in this eternal landscape. How beautiful is that.

  69. Binky Atherton
    February 7, 2014

    Pure poetry. Stay the course.

  70. Murad Q
    February 7, 2014

    Great capture of the old Nabatean spirit Paul. It’s a magical place out there. I’m happy your sharing it with the world.

  71. V MATTHEWS
    February 7, 2014

    It sure is the food of love….let it play on and on and on and soothe every one’s taut nerves!……MATTS

  72. Nana
    February 7, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this journey, Petra is such a dream city to me! It must be really different there in Saudi Arabia, wish I could travel there someday and experience the culture there!

  73. Miguel Garcia
    February 7, 2014

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL XDXDXDXDXD SO RANDUMB #CAMELS #STONEMUSIC #SWAG

  74. Jose Socorro Murillo Gudiño
    February 7, 2014

    AMAZING…thanks.

  75. Dean
    February 7, 2014

    Not to detract from your great adventurous work and writing/observations, but a cow wailing in labor sounds better than this guy….maybe he is in copyright violation of the cow!

  76. Fritz E. Young
    February 7, 2014

    Greetings! Began my journey with you via National Geographic’s Dec.issue! My dr. permitted me to bring this mag. home so I can read you account of your beginning. It’s a fascinating and challenging endeavor! Promise to follow with you and Elema through the miles and months ahead! Assure you of my prayers and best wishes!

  77. Rebekah Levy
    February 7, 2014

    Beautiful music from the corpus callosum of the planet. You have been ascending it, you know! Have a wonderful journey and thank you for taking it and reporting to us so beautifully.

  78. Kimberly Ayers
    February 7, 2014

    Paul, you are making me homesick in a lovely way! I grew up in Saudi as an oil brat and Arabic music delights my head like a rich linguistic dessert! There is nothing quite so captivating as a winter desert breeze bringing you just the silence of itself. It always surprised me to be happy in such a sere place, but it was “home.” Thank you for sharing this journey with us: I hope you find “arabia” as “felix” as we did. traveling mercies // Kimberly

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      I was born in a desert where the indigenous people were six feet tall and painted themselves in stripes of white and blue. More than one tree cramps a landscape. So I guess we carry our deserts with us, Kimberly.

  79. Kathleen Flannery
    February 8, 2014

    How wonderful, Paul. Your writing and travels are special: Safe escapades to you. I so enjoy these comments from so many thoughtful people.
    This music takes me back to some ancient time in my dreams! I am amazed and delighted. Thank you!!

  80. vajira
    February 8, 2014

    Thanks Paul for giving us a wonderful opportunity to understand about different nations and their amazing life styles. The photos explain a lot. The music is different but i enjoyed it very much.
    take care..
    Thank you …

  81. Terry Treman
    February 8, 2014

    I love this. My students are part of out of Eden Walk and are really beginning to get it. Keep on truckin’ Paul and peace be with you.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Glad to have your class join us, Terry.

  82. Robbie Lowe
    February 9, 2014

    Very soulful, Qasim Ali…from a blues fan. Paul, your undertaking thrills my soul on many levels. Maybe because I’m a lifelong wanderer of sorts. Looking forward to your next post. God bless.

  83. Brian Leikert
    February 9, 2014

    That is very strong music. It sounds angry.

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Interesting you picked up on that, Brian. It is a ballad of sorrow and anger. Some versions end with a bitter curse hurled by the father against his faithless sons, who have marooned him in the desert at the urging of their wives: He prays for the wives’ barrenness and early widowhood. Life in the desert was tough.

  84. Elver Gonzalez S
    February 10, 2014

    Cada dia aprendemos mas
    maravilloso!
    gracias

  85. Kathy
    February 11, 2014

    Thank you for the beautiful writing! Your posts never fail to brighten my day.

  86. EmilyB
    February 11, 2014

    Hi my name is Emily! I think you had a birthday recently, so happy birthday! Thank you so much for giving kids like me all around the opportunity to follow you on you’re great journey. You are such a role model! It is overly generous of you to reply back to all these schools on how to be the best person you can be. You even emailed my teacher! She encouraged us to follow you on your journey and I am thankful and over joyed to watch you progress :)

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Thank you, Emily. The strength flows both ways. A poet, as always, frames this shared journey best:

      “I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes.”

      Thanks for walking along.

  87. Brij Singh
    February 12, 2014

    I have heard your interview on NPR, and since then I have looked on internet so many times. But, this is the first time I came to this blog.
    God bless you and have a safe journey that would educate lots of people who do not care about history!
    Brij
    Chattanooga, TN

    • Paul Salopek
      February 13, 2014

      Welcome to the journey, Brij. As a writer from your neck of the woods once wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

  88. Jackie Lamb
    February 15, 2014

    Wow, I learn something from every post. Thanks for keeping us updated and showing us a different part of the world. I truly enjoy checking up on you.

  89. Aramis de la Nuez
    February 17, 2014

    Every 100 years or so along comes a great wanderer and traveller. For this century it is our Paul Salopek. I am glued to his posts, jealous, in awe, bewitched by the experience, enthralled by his journey. May JEHOVAH GOD guide him on his way and may he unite us all with his stories and experiences. From afar we can feel his warmth, his genteelness, his love of life and nature, his love for science & the humanities. He may be a knot that ties all the laces of our humanity and our universal history. At first 7 years seemed so long, now it seems like time will fly. When the going gets tough Paul, remember you have thousands of fans out hear who are walking with you daily. Cheers, … Mr. Aramis de la Nuez – Sultanate of Oman (Middle East)

  90. James Newall
    April 1, 2014

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your wonderful stories, that I was ably t read. I think that you are an amazing writer and that your stories are really descriptive so that I feel like I’m really there. I can’t wait to find more about your adventure.

  91. Ted Jennings
    April 12, 2014

    Many of us wouldn’t “get it” so to speak. But it is surely ‘opera’ to his ears; and, that’s what really matters. We should appreciate it – if for no other reason than that (though I, nonetheless, find it quite entertaining).

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