These boots were made for walking!
Two Venezuelan boy scouts decided they wanted to visit the 1937 boy scout Jamboree in the USA. In need of a great adventure (and an even greater lack of funds) they decided to hike it, all the way from Caracas to Washington D.C. The boys departed Caracas on January 11, 1935 and walked 25 miles a day for two years in order to make it to the 1937 Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington DC. On June 16 they walked into D.C. even becoming the first scouts to register themselves for the 1937 version of the world jamboree. Great timing and some greater marching!
The real kickass-ness of their trip is revealed in an article of the Washington post dated Jun 17, 1937:
2 Boy Scouts End Long Hike, Ready to Rest
Pair Finish 8,000-Mile Hegira From Venezuela to Washington.
In Spanish that means rest, which is what Rafael Angel Petit and Juan Carmona are going to get plenty of, now that they’ve completed their hike from Caracas, Venezuela, to Washington.
The two Rover Boy Scouts, who had been en route since January 11, 1935, puffed across the Key Bridge a few minutes before noon yesterday to reach the end of a trail that led through snake and malaria-infested jungles, head hunters’ camps and brigands’ hideouts.
They were greeted near the city’s entrance by a reception party of Boy Scout officials, legation attaches and motorcycle police but politely declined an invitation to ride.
“No, thank you,” said Juan, 26, and quite handsome with Valentino sideburns, “we’ve walked every step of the way to this point, except when we crossed rivers on handmade rafts. We want to walk all the way to the Capitol.”
At the Capitol were waiting the Venezuelan Minister, Dr. Diogenes Escalante, and Director General Leo S. Rowe, of the Pan-American Union. Much handshaking, newsreel and photograph shooting, more handshaking and South American gesticulating followed.
A few hours later the boys were telling a radio audience what it’s like to hoof some 8,000 miles apiece without ennui. (The actual distance may be far less but Rafael and Juan often had to take the long way around, not the crow’s route.)
Hardships were plentiful on the trip but the boys arrived fit and sound, save for a few vanishing malaria symptoms. Carmona was hit the worst and, through an interpreter, said he is going to look up a doctor here.
At times the heat was so bad the hikers nearly despaired of continuing. The tropical sun killed a dog companion and another perished of snakebite.
Two thousand miles, or about one-fourth, of their journey was through dense jungles. One of them, the Choco Colombiano separating Panama and Columbia, had never before been traversed by civilized man.
“We had to cut our way through this territory,” the scouts said, “with machetes, not being able to take one step forward through unbelievably luxuriant vines, trees, grasses, without first clearing our path.
“We were forced for many miles to lay a constant bridge before us of tree trunks in order to avoid quicksand and quaking marshland. For nearly six months we were wet constantly, as the normally difficult crossing of this jungle was further complicated by our striking it at the rainy season.”
Malaria, dampness, snakes, insects and heat plagued them. Often they slept in hammocks swung high about the ground for safety. Usually, however, they made their beds on the earth.
In Panama they were feted by the San Blas Indians who, more often than not, are hostile to strangers. A few of them spoke a Spanish dialect, which helped. The natives gave a banquet in their honor, featured by a beverage called chucula.
“This drink was bad enough by itself,” the adventurers said, “but we had to watch the women prepare it, and that nearly finished us. It is made of green plantains, grain and coconut, all chewed up personally by the women, mixed well with saliva and left to ferment.”
Juan and Rafael said they had a hard time explaining their way out of the clutches of Honduran bandits, then when they were liberated the police placed them under arrest, until their credentials were verified with the Venezuelan government.
It was pretty discouraging, too, when they arrived at Laredo, Tex., only to be halted because of passport difficulties. The scouts had to walk all the way back to Mexico City to get their entrance papers in order.
The sojourners averaged 25 miles a day, wore out 24 pairs of shoes, and passed through Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico before arriving at the Jamboree.