It was a sweltering 89 degrees Monday afternoon and along the US 27 corridor east of Williston there were few people stirring in their yards or farms.
Most residents, still at work or resting in their recliners, were planning on what the night’s dinner would be.
István (Steven) and Ferenc (Frank) Ivanics were more concerned about where they would lay their heads for the night, as they waged a battle against the seemingly endless batallion of mosquitos.
The brothers, Hungarian nationals from war-torn Serbia, are on a six-year journey to walk the earth in a mission of peace and brotherhood.
When finished, the two will have logged more than 25,000 miles on foot and have more stories to tell than a night around the campfire will allow.
Walking 15-25 miles each day, the pair travel lightly and have no sponsorships on their trek.
Their joy comes from the journey and the people they have encounted from Hungary to Africa and now to the United States.
Monday afternoon, they rested beside the road and with map in hand plotted how long it would before they reached their stopping point for the night–Raleigh.
Both speak impeccable English and both have mischievous glints in their eyes.
Frank, at 32, is the spokesman for the duo although Steven, 27, occasionally chimes in with his own anecdotes.
The brothers have carried the message that peace is the answer.
The two “lived as a member of a minority in a war-worn post-communist country, and that is the best school to teach you how valuable peace is. And not only how valuable it is, but how hard it is to keep it: don't bother about super powers, don't bother about weapon bussiness, just focus on your own connections to people in your narrower or wider surroundings. The peace of small communities will lead to global peace,” they write on their Web site.
With a self-imposed three-month deadline to reach New Orleans, the pair forge ahead, keeping their goal in mind.
“We’re going home,” Frank said, eyes twinkling and beaming broadly.
The two accept no rides and often work odd jobs to pay their expenses. They travel lightly with only the bare necessities in their backpacks.
About every 2,000 miles they replace their walking shoes and Frank said they’re each on their third pair now.
Steven interjects that the blisters are the worst–blisters on top of blisters and still they walk.
Frank has lost about 33 pounds while his younger brother dropped 22. Both said the weight loss was faster in the beginning of their trek but has stabilized now.
The two started their Florida journey in Miami and meandered through the Everglades. The hardest part, they said, was finding a dry, safe spot to sleep and most of that worry came from the mosquitos, which has been like a pestilence for them since they arrived here in the rainy season.
Gardeners by trade, they have enjoyed sampling papaya and mango, two fruits not known in their country.
Everywhere they have gone, people have been gracious, they said, and listened to their philosophy of world peace. Only twice have local authorities questioned them and verified their backgrounds.
Sometimes, Frank said, people here in the States took them for a hamburger or allowed them to sleep in their pastures.
“Maybe we have angels watching over us,” Frank said.
As often as possible, the two drop in to public libraries and blog on their adventures.
Keep up with them at http://worldwalk-peacetour.info/