It all began with a mid-life crisis. Jean Béliveau’s small sign business went bankrupt, which compelled him to run around the world to shake off his despair. He did run in the beginning, but the journey soon took on a slower pace that led him through 64 countries on six continents.
Béliveau, now 56, has gone through 53 pairs of shoes.
He told AFP that he left home with $4,000 in Canadian dollars and spent about that much each year, provided to him by his long-time girlfriend who stayed put in Montreal. She also encouraged him to complete the journey when, feeling just too lonely in Ethiopia, he had wanted to give up.
There were other inevitable trials and tribulations over the years. He was mugged in South Africa, got seriously sick in Algeria and was detained for one day in Ethiopia for no apparent reason.
Béliveau also speaks of meeting people, trying new foods and acclimating to different cultures along the way. He has spent nights under bridges and in homeless shelters, but strangers have supplied much of his food and places to sleep. “I left with nothing,” he told AFP, “but I return now with a wealth of knowledge and understanding.”