Walker circles globe for peace
By JOSEPH DEE
Circling the globe, Canadian walker takes steps for peace
TRENTON _ On Aug. 18, Montreal resident Jean Beliveau kissed his common-law wife and two children goodbye and went out for a walk.
He's expected home for dinner in about 10 years.
Back in December, Beliveau hatched a plan to circumnavigate the globe on foot, except for a few flights over oceans. His journey, which he started Aug. 18 on his 45th birthday, brought Beliveau to Trenton Wednesday.
His mission is to promote peace and non-violence for children, laudable themes in general, but fraught with special urgency for a guy who is heavily counting on the kindness of strangers.
He plans to traverse six continents and walk more than 51,000 miles.
Less than a month into the trek, he reports he has usually found someone willing to offer him a meal and bed for the night. But Beliveau is prepared to sleep outdoors. He has a tent, sleeping bag and mattress on the stroller packed so full that it resembles a miniature Nordic sledge minus a team of huskies.
In Tuesday's fading sunlight, Beliveau had no luck finding anyone on Staten Island willing to offer him a place to sleep. He said he knocked on the doors of seven houses and got seven rejections before continuing on to New Jersey.
In the darkness somewhere near New Brunswick, he approached what appeared to be a church. The door was open, so he walked in. What he had entered, however, was a mausoleum.
``We all slept well,'' the intrepid traveler said.
In Trenton, Beliveau found livelier quarters. He bumped into Garfield Avenue resident Rose Lowe outside a store and asked her, in his heavy French accent, for directions to Philadelphia. When she asked him where he had parked his car, Beliveau pointed to his
stroller, which he calls his ``Winnebago.''
``He said he's walking around the world for children,'' Lowe said. ``It just freaked me out. I said, `For what?' Then I thought, how wonderful that you would take 10 years out of your life for world peace.''
After a brief conversation during which Lowe became convinced Beliveau was on the up and up, she invited him to stay at her house for the night, where she lives with her son and her fiance.
``He hesitated at first, but I said, `C'mon, I'll feed you chicken soup. It's really good.' ''
Lowe was with her nephew, Matthew Lowe, 16, when she met Beliveau. Asked what he thought when he heard his aunt invite a total stranger in a T-shirt and gym shorts to her house, he hesitated for a second.
``You don't think I'm crazy, Matt?'' his aunt asked.
``A little bit,'' he said with a slight smile.
He seemed to have a few doubts about Beliveau, too. When the conversation turned to his safety, Matthew pointed out that there are ``lions and a lot of wild animals in Africa.''
Beliveau said he planned to seek the safety of villages as he makes his way up the western coast.
Lowe said she opened her house to the stranger ``because that's what Jesus would do. Everyone he passes should open their doors and feed him.''
Beliveau said he is keeping a journal of his trip and periodically sends his wife handwritten pages for a few books he hopes are eventually published. He has no
sponsors, and relies on the small bit of money he saved while working at a neon sign company in Montreal. His wife, Luce Archambault, works for a government agency. He also has accepted small donations from well-wishers along the way.
Beliveau struggled with the question of how his journey promotes peace. ``I don't promote peace, really. I only dedicate my trip to peace.''
Lowe chimed in, ``I think I know how he's going to make a difference. I'm never going to forget him, and people will react to the story,'' she said.
His journey coincides with a decade-long United Nations campaign to promote peace and
non-violence for the benefit of children. But that is simply a happy coincidence, Beliveau
He came up with the idea mainly out of the simple realization that it's possible in this day
and age of more open national borders.
Beliveau has mapped out a southerly route that will take him through Atlanta, New Orleans, eastern Mexico, Central America and the west coast of South America. He
expects to arrive in Rio de Janeiro in about two years, where he will board a jet for South
An itinerary including major cities through which he plans to pass can be viewed at his Website, www.wwwalk.org
A 10-year trip works out to about 3,650 nights. Anyone who has a relative or friend who would be willing to put up Beliveau for one of them can reach his wife by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org If it seems that he'll be in the neighborhood at the end of a day's walk, his wife can pass along messages and directions, he said.
Beliveau's email address is email@example.com
Beliveau telephones his wife and mother every week and e-mails his wife more frequently. Almost every family he has stayed with so far has Internet access, he
Beliveau said he sprang his plan on his family just 3 1/2 weeks before he departed. Speaking of his wife, he said, ``I told her I have a secret in my heart. She realized I was serious. Then after I told her, she began to cry a little bit. But she said, `Do it.' ''
Archambault said she plans to fly to a few major cities along her husband's route for festive reunions.