and intrigue in far-flung corners of the globe

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Aloha Wanderwell Liked Living Dangerously. Aloha stands on top of her famous car as it is lifted onto a ship during her tour of Africa in the 1920s. 

Aloha Wanderwell

The first Woman to Drive around the World

Adventure, exploration, danger, and murder: this was the life of Aloha Wanderwall. Inspired by the fantastic tales she read in her father’s beloved collection of boyhood books, she dreamed of travel, and intrigue in far-flung corners of the globe. In 1922, when she was 16, she embarked on an ambitious around-the–world expedition led by “Captain” Wanderwell…

Wanderwell was an explorer, a vaudevillian and filmmaker, a female Indiana Jones, a wife and mother. She visited places no western man or woman had seen before. She was a figure of controversy, self-invention and marketing. The romance that informs her legend is both real and contrived.

When she was still a teenager, she hopped into a Model T Ford and drove through 80 countries in the 1920’s. They called her “The World’s Most Travelled Girl.” An early filmmaker, Aloha captured her husband and two children as they explored the world.  Did she have adventures? Stranded in Brazil, she lived with and documented the Bororo people.

Trying to find fuel (never mind roads) in the 1920’s, she used crushed bananas and animal fat for fuel.   Her husband was mysteriously murdered.  Apparently, she cut her hair and fought for the French Foreign Legion. She flew a seaplane.  In Indochina, she had to shoot her way out of a gauntlet of angry elephants. In India on their round-the-world trip oxen were frequently required to tow the Ford Model-T across mud flats and rivers. In China in 1924, when civil warfare made it impossible to purchase fuel, labourers pulled the car for eighty miles…

She died in obscurity, and you’ve probably never heard of her. Even with a name like Aloha Wanderwell.

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