Danny Garcia may be the closest the world will ever get to having a real-life Forrest Gump.
The Spanish Harlem, New York City, native has witnessed firsthand some of history’s best-known events. He’s been on the front lines of what nearly became a war with Cuba, worked as a producer at the original Woodstock in 1969, and was in a taxi in Amman, Jordan, on Sept. 11, 2001, when unexplained madness broke out in the streets.
“My life has always been very dramatic, very exciting and very unusual,” said the former U.S. Marine and ordained minister.
Garcia, 66, has spent the last 15 years walking the globe for peace. It began in December 1996 as a walk from San Francisco, California, to New York City as an attempt to achieve peace during an emotionally difficult time. Today, Garcia has logged more than 25,000 miles and gained a following around the world.
“When I first started, I was nearly hit by cars and trucks. After I got to New York, I realized that I could do it all over the world,” he said. “When you walk, you experience pain. I was in shambles when I started, but I had to learn to let go of things. I wanted to help other people find peace.”
Garcia’s mission is to walk with people of all different backgrounds while praying for peace and understanding. He also prays for the world’s children, who he believes go unnoticed as everyone else “walks all over them,” he said.
Garcia has left footprints in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. He said he has his eyes on South America in 2012.
“This is about God’s love going through the people. It doesn’t cost anything. I love to walk, and I love people,” Garcia said.
The highlights from Garcia’s trips are endless. He’s shaken hands with numerous world leaders and learned valuable lessons from people along the way, including the Australian Aborigines.
“They were driving around, showing me the route,” Garcia recalled. “They told me if a kangaroo attacks, you should just fall down, cover your head and your face, and they won’t bother you.”
During that trip to Australia, Garcia walked during 16 days of nearly nonstop rain. That experience gave him an idea of what to expect during Costa Rica’s rainy season, he said.
“There was no way to stay dry, so I just accepted that and waited for it to stop,” Garcia said.
Garcia began a walk through Costa Rica on Sept. 11 in Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste. His route took him south to Puntarenas, then east to Alajuela. He is scheduled to arrive in Heredia today, from where he will proceed to the Caribbean port city of Limón before returning westward to Cartago and San José, where he will end his journey on Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace. Upon his arrival in the capital, he will present a gift symbolizing peace to Costa Rican Renovation Party legislator Justo Orozco, who will accept the gift on behalf of the people of Costa Rica.
Garcia already has plans to return to Costa Rica next year. He said he would like to produce a benefit concert promoting peace; at the end of the concert, his walk to South America would begin.
“I want to walk in Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, down to Brazil, maybe farther,” Garcia said. “We all have to come together, not as nations but as people.”
For information about Garcia and his past walks, visit www.globalwalk.cc.