Walking for eleven years around the world, Jean Beliveau is about to return home to Montreal.
Beliveau left Montreal on the day of his 45th birthday, August 18, 2000, after his small sign business went bankrupt. He decided to run around the world to try to escape that painful episode in his life.
Archambault and his two children from a previous marriage did not try to hold him back. “It was cool,” said his son Thomas Eric, who was 20-years-old at the time.
Beliveau ran all the way to Atlanta, Georgia before slowing his stride for what would become the longest uninterrupted walk around the world: 75,000 kilometers across 64 countries.
At one point, Archambault encouraged him to use his voyage to promote peace and non-violence for the benefit of children in support of a UNESCO proclamation. Suddenly what started as an escape from his weary life had a purpose.
Over 11 years, he traveled across deserts and mountains. He fell in love for nine days in Mexico, wore a turban and a long beard in Sudan, ate insects in Africa, dog in South Korea and snake in China, and was escorted by armed soldiers in the Philippines.
Beliveau only fell seriously ill once in Algeria, was mugged only once by two young drunks in South Africa, and was detained only once in Ethiopia for no apparent reason (he was released the next day).
It was also in Ethiopia that he was once gripped by despair, which nearly caused him to quit and go home. He said he felt very alone. Archambault back in Montreal egged him on, convincing him to persevere.
“After food and shelter, man needs to feel like he belongs,” Beliveau explained.
While few ever have the bug or the thought, many mean it when then “leave home,” traveling to physical places in the world they thought they would never see, and traveling to psychological places within themselves they thought not possible.
Unfortunately, few who leave home this way have the support and encouragement of their family and friends. Most think they are crazy, as they did Brent and I went we hit the road full-time in 1996 with only a plan for six months, never believing it would be 14 years.
Jean will have wonderful stories and lessons to share, and a life lesson about people and kindred spirits that will serve him for the rest of his life, as do we.
Congrats, Jean, on your amazing trip. If you would like learn more about Jean and his travels, check out his site at World Wide Walk.