For the last three months a group of English football fans have been walking the roads of South America en route to the World Cup finals in Brazil. Naming their stroll #WalktotheWorldCup they have been pushing funky strollers and made many friends – including a stray dog called Stinky Jefferson – raising money for charity along the way
David Bewick, Adam Burns, Pete Johnston, Ben Olsen and Stinky Jefferson the dog, have been walking from Mendoza in Argentina – England’s historic football rivals – down to Buenos Aires, over to Montevideo in Uruguay – one of England’s group opponents – and then up the East coast of Uruguay to Brazil and onwards towards Porto Alegre in time for the first game of the 2014 World Cup.
We wonder if they maybe bumped into Ben Oude Kamphuis, the Hulk Hogan look-alike who is driving his pimped 1955 Chevy truck from San Fransisco to the Brazil World Cup 2014 as well.
The idea to trek 1,966km – a distance that corresponded with England’s World Cup win in 1966 – was first conceived over a late-night drink in a bar (like many other ideas on Kickasstrips have)
Given Brazil’s mixed reception to hosting the tournament it was crucial for the four friends to leave behind a legacy; something the World Cup itself promises the Brazilian people. A family link to the J de V Arts Care Trust, a charity founded by Brazilian sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos and dually based in the Lake District in the UK and Brazil, provided a way of doing just that.
Their goal being to raise £20,000 that will go entirely to the construction of a water bore into a proven aquifer to supply water for drinking, irrigation and agriculture.\
When they started their walk to the world cup at the beginning of March it quickly became clear that their backs wouldn’t support the 20kg of equipment they each had to carry. So they upped their game and bought some real funky golf trolleys which they could push from place to place. Three months of walking five days a week at a rate of 30km-per-day has been their routine since then, with nightly accommodation a mixture of roadside camping, abandoned train stations, budget hotels and the generosity of those they met en route.
Highlights have included an ad hoc football match in the rural Argentinian village of Balde, whose population turned out in force; traversing Uruguay’s stunning Atlantic coastline – including the one-of-a-kind hippy/fisherman community, Cabo Polonio – and rest periods in capital cities Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
The boys explained: “The locals have welcomed us into their homes to debate the likely outcome of this summer’s tournament – from the elderly Uruguayan Aldo (who would be happy just to finish better than Argentina), the outspoken Brazilian backpacker, Julio (who wants Brazil to lose in the final so the country do not lose sight of the problems inherent with the tournament’s funding) to a Buenos Aires taxi driver’s conspiracy theories surrounding the omission of Carlos Tevez.”
“We’ve also become experts on a range of topics – asphalt types, roadside-verge management – as we’ve undergone long stretches of monotonous highway. Blisters the size of golf balls, muscle strains, recurring sciatica, sunstroke and beard-itch (like ‘the longest beard’ guy) have been tough but we have kept each other’s morale high during the low points.”
Bearded guys pushing ‘babystrollers’ through Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil…..that could have just as easily been the tagline for the Hangover movie part 4! The four friends should have invited Zach Galifianakis for a little stroll with them. He would have easily fit in
A major turning point was a chance encounter with a stray dog in a small beach town just short of Punta del Este. The first few hours he followed his nose and them hoping for a food handout and he has been with them ever since. 500 km further down the road the dog has become more than part of the walking team. They dubbed him Stinky Jefferson (for reasons only half-known) and dressed him in an England’s France 98 jersey. Stinky Jefferson crossed the Brazilian border with them and has been bemusing and winning over the hearts of the locals over there as well.
Ever since he started following the four friends another objective of the walk has emerged: finding a suitable home for Jefferson once they reached the end of the road. They had offers from Brazilian friends willing to rehouse him, although they haven’t ruled out taking him home themselves. But rest assured, they will find Stinky J, their morale booster and social-media icon, a suitable home once they arrive in Porto Alegre in less than a week.
But first Stinky J and his new four friends have to enjoy the world cup together!!