one photo, one story
LIVELIHOOD | His skin was leather, witness to a noble life spent beneath the generous Ethiopian sun. He looked 80, but was probably closer to 60 when deducting the dignifying furrows a career of arduous labor had left on his face. The wide-awake eyes gave it away. And at no point did the cruel Simien ascends seem to take a toll on him, while I paid plenty. His reticent demeanor expressed a polite indifference to my existence. And yet, somehow I felt like he would guard that existence with his if necessary. He exuded an air of loyalty to his responsibility as a scout, and at least by proxy to any wannabe adventurer in tow. All he carried with him into the mountains was a small rucksack, a quilted jacket, an umbrella, a shawl that inexplicably sufficed him as blanket throughout the relentless altitude nights, and the AK-47. Ka-lash-ni-kov, rat-tat-tat-tat – what a perfect last name to invent a rifle, I thought. The phonetics and connotation were a match made in Russia. What kind of machine gun would a “Wilson” or “Gonzales” be? But if the rifle made me feel any safer, it made me feel unsafer in at least equal measure. I disliked the tangible proximity of death the presence of the gun established, notwithstanding that this one was more livelihood than weapon – a tool of life and death that was just a tool. Some written or unwritten rule somewhere obliged him to carry it, and me to enter the park accompanied by an armed veteran. Wild animals or robbers are no real threat here, as I learned, but a family going hungry is.
Sometimes it only takes one photo to tell a story. You can find more of these dispersed throughout the photos and countries sections as well as the entire collection on social media and in the archive below:
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