Over the four-month journey from Baalbek (Lebanon) to Bukhara (Uzbekistan), I encountered landscapes of dogged work and transcendental stewardship.
One cannot move through Petra without awareness of the workers. The Bedouin appear on every path with their pack animals. Up to the Monastery and other high places, they cart tourists and tea-shop goods. Stalls line the switchbacks, some open, many closed for winter. The calls encouraging rides and scarves and bottled water increase with every hour the sun arcs through the sky. Participation in the local economy is a tourist's duty, but the lean winter off-season months make it rough. Nerves can be on edge.
Because I lingered in Petra for a spell, I began to recognize the faces taking care of the world around me. When I crossed paths again with a boy I’d photographed, I followed. He was disconcerted, as were the other animal handlers taking their break in the shadow of a tourist police cabin. But when I showed this boy the photograph worked up in my hotel room, then showed the men and boys surrounding us other portraits, we talked of taking more pictures. So we did. We exchanged mobile numbers so I could send them the photographs for their social media accounts, and now we can keep in touch.