@RoryStewart on #longdistancewalking and on #history

Rory Stewart, The places in between, 2004 (revised edition 2014) on walking across Afghanistan in 2002:

When we reached the building, with its high mud walls and its single corner tower, I realized it was a medieval caravanserai – a way station for merchants on the Silk Road…[C]aravenserai were built a day’s walk apart… When I had the idea of an Asian walk five years earlier, such legacies of the Silk Road fascinated me… But now that I was walking, I found it more difficult to be interested in the Silk Road. Such things had little to do with modern Afghanistan and I doubted whether the people who lived in this building had a clear idea of its past… 

Writing for two hours in my diary each night had become a fixed habit. I looked at the importance of mass-produced imported goods, foreign missionaries and development agencies in remote communities. I considered the journeys men had made on pilgrimage or for work in cities. I observed how religion, language and social practice were becoming homogenized, and how little interest people took in ancient history. I noticed all of this but I was not sure whether writing it down was any more than a cover story to justify the journey to myself. I was certainly motivated by more than anthropological curiosity.

church Vilshofen 415 3.JPG
(Vilsofen, near Passau, Germany, April 2015)

Over the past 8 years I have strung together a walk (mostly a walk) from Brussels to Passau. I long to take the next step and walk for many months together.

Doing that must change you.

Certainly, unlike Stewart, I myself am still at the stage where my mind is full both of the history, and of how people live today.

old cinema? Passau 415.JPG(Passau, April 2015)

It seems like a good idea to write up the journey at the end of each day. Paul Theroux does the same.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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