TRURO, N.S. - A Guatemalan street dog, a 1990s Land Rover and the open road – for the past six years, this has been Benjy Davenport’s life.
In April of 2011, Davenport left his home in Truro, England, to set out on an epic adventure very few have managed to complete.
“Basically I am trying to drive around the world, that’s about it,” he said after rolling into Truro on a recent stop.
“I’ve never done the East Coast before. Since I’m from Truro in the U.K., I figured what better way to see this side of the country than to come see the other Truro.”
At the beginning of his trip, Davenport headed east through Europe, Russia and Middle Asia, had his vehicle shipped over to Canada, then continued down through the U.S. and into Central America before heading back north.
“I actually got turned around in Central America,” said Davenport.
“In the last year, they’ve stopped all right-hand-drive cars going through three countries down there. That really stuffed me up, so I turned around and came back up this way.”
Davenport had been inspired to drive around the world after he met a group of travellers who were overlanding – travelling across the country in a group of large off-road vehicles – while he was backpacking in Africa.
“I thought, ‘Well I could do that.’ So I went back home to plan it out, and started thinking about a good reason to do it,” he said.
Davenport had been born with Noonan’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that prevents normal developments in various parts of the body – sometimes causing dwarfism and congenital heart defects – and felt the trip could bring focus to the syndrome.
“I figured I would do this trip for a reason, to bring awareness to Noonan’s syndrome and show people that you don’t have to be perfect to chase your dreams,” he said.
With a cause in mind, Davenport used the next few years to plan out the trip, raise money by working and to modify his 1998 Land Rover Discovery 110 to handle the world’s various terrains, while giving himself a place to eat and sleep comfortably.
“It took five years to completely plan and prepare for the trip,” said Davenport.
“The whole trip was only meant to be 18 months to two years long, but I would have to stop places to work for a bit and went home a few times just to check in on friends and family.”
Eventually, keeping to his planned schedule became too hard, and was preventing him from actually enjoying the places he’d visit.
“As soon as I threw the schedule out, the trip got better,” he said.
“There was no schedule to keep, so I could spend time in a few places where I wanted to. I’m trying to keep it at a more slow and mellow pace now.
Travelling around the world is no easy feat, and while most would think life on the road would consist of laid-back days and new, exciting experiences, not every day is fun-filled.
“There have been some rocky places in the trip, but it’s just life,” said Davenport.
“It gets tough when so many people come in and out of your life all the time and when there is no structure. Sometimes it is good, but other times it’s tough, and you are always a bit unsure of the next step.”
Loneliness can also weigh when you’re travelling the world alone, but recently Davenport found a new travelling companion.
He met Jake, a golden retriever/Australian shepherd mix, while he was spending time in Guatemala.
Jake would follow Davenport everywhere he went, and would return to Davenport’s truck to wait for him if they became separated during the day.
Not wanting to see such a well-mannered dog return to the streets, Davenport took him to a vet, got all his shots and paperwork sorted, and took him along for the rest of his journey.
“I wasn’t really in the mindset for a dog, but he changed my mind on that one and forced himself upon me. They say you don’t choose the dog, the dog chooses you.”
Travelling can be expensive, so to raise funds, Davenport has worked various odd jobs.
“I worked as a fishing and water scout up in Yukon, I worked for a Baja race team and I try to work with horses when I can because I grew up with them. The funny part about it is I have never had to apply for a job during the whole trip. I guess it was a lot of right place, right time type of things.”
After travelling for six years, Davenport plans to take the next year off to rest, raise money and live a more “structured, normal life” before heading to his next destination.
“I still really want to do South America, but right now funds are beginning to get low again, and travelling is exhausting,” he said.
“I just want to settle in to a normal life for a short time, where you can call your mate up and go to the pub on a Friday night.”
Last Sunday, Davenport notched another milestone in his journey after making a stop at Peggy’s Cove.
“Just to let you know that today I touched the Atlantic by Peggy’s Cove,” he said, in an email. “That means I have just completed a total circumnavigation of the world by land.”
At the end of November, Davenport will head back across the Atlantic to his home in the U.K., but until then he is going to continue to take in the sights and sounds of Nova Scotia.
“I wouldn’t mind going up to Sydney, because I was born in Sydney,” he said.
“… Australia, that is.”
A two-Truro comparison
Before heading out on his global adventure, Benjy Davenport lived in the city of Truro, Cornwall County, England.
When he heard there was a Truro in Nova Scotia, he had to visit.
Davenport described his hometown as a small city with about 25,000 to 50,000 people in its centre, with smaller rural areas surrounding it, and a few main streets leading to its business and shopping districts.
“There is a big cathedral in the middle, which makes it a city,” he said.
“In England, in order for a city to be a city, it has to have a cathedral, otherwise it’s just a town.”
The city is surrounded by protected natural areas, and is situated near the bottom of steep valley slopes, which results in occasional flooding.
While it is slightly larger and more developed than Truro, N.S., the two do share similarities, such as both being surrounded by forests and farmlands and each having their own tidal bore, among others.
Asked about his thoughts on both Truros, Davenport said, “sometimes small towns are nice. Sometimes they are just what you need.”