Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

Pensioners Pensioners Pensioners…


Dithers Complainahan (he has a new nickname) has been trying to figure out why, in the last handful of years, he has repeatedly befriended troubled men in their early 30’s. Myself obviously excluded…he isn’t aware that I’m troubled.
I try to encouraged him to not over think things like this, but it’s like trying to tell a fox not to eat chickens. Chickens taste delicious! Many roasted birds and half a dozen single chaps have all in some way or another found themselves in KP’s welcoming company in recent years, and he is a little bemused by it. Firstly, to dispel any assumptions, there have been no sexual or an intimate pairings. The fortuitous and not so fortuitous meetings have played on the mind of my introverted, Maggie Smith admirer and understandably, has been cause for curiousness without explanation. At least the fox can explain his chickens! Why consistently men in their early thirties? Why not a single woman who would like a respectful man and his dozy dog?! Why troubled? Why not a reborn retired woman who loves Downton Abbey and carefree motorcycle rides?! Why do they often needing a little “leg up” after either a financial crisis or emotional knock? Why not an optimistic lady who offers cookies and map reads at the same time, who might likely have a penchant for a quiet type?! KP asks me versions of these questions regularly….although I may add the bit about a lady friend…of which I think I’d lose out to if one showed up, and rightly so. I cook and drive, listen and negotiate, but I have a deep voice and large hands, and neither of us prefer that.

If my retired friend thinks he should worry about his “magnetism for men in need” (there’s a personal ad), I should maybe concern myself with relating too easily to “pensioners who travel” (about to set up a new personals group…immediately). Of course neither of us should be concerned, but maybe I’m more mature than I behave in my head, maybe I’m already a jolly old man, maybe I’ve already started complaining about the youth of today and with all their mod cons, kids don’t know they’re born! I’m glad I have KP here to remind me that I’m still a young’un. I have all my teeth, only my beard has the odd white hair, and I’m fairly certain my old ticker could manage a fair bit of strenuous activity (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Many people have suggested that with an accent, the USA might be a dangerous place for my heart, but as you’ve seen from previous updates, I often smell of wild sage, I camp in many unpopulated places (or worse for a heterosexual man – places like Deadhorse, full of burly men wearing blue tootsies to protect their feet)…oh, and I have a pensioner as a sidekick. Hellowww ladies!

Speaking of pensioners and my affinity with them, I met Tom. Imagine a tireless road runner, an enigmatic landscape lover, a gadget wielding, pottering, dithering, heart warming, independent 80 year old, tootering around North America in a campervan which he has owned for 18 years. We met as he straddled some bush to take a photo, and I reversed over him (almost). After a little banter just north of Seward on Glacier Road, I invited myself into his mini rolling-home to request he tell me stories. Strangely, as long as I shared, he agreed to. He told me all about being stationed in Germany, his family’s travels as they sailed across the Atlantic and down to South Africa, his campervan lifestyle and his temperamental gadgets that he so desperately tries to take the perfect photograph with. He admitted that it keeps him busy on his road trips, but crashing his drone multiple times is his most current, common frustration – and despite wading out into muddy lakes a sand bars to rescue it he still endures the search of a picture perfect. It might be easier to strap your camera to an eagle, Tom, and put a leash on it. Although I am maybe just a little unsympathetic, I am also envious of someone who, instead of backpacking with a small one, can drive around with a decent SLR. It was both enlightening and entertaining to sit and discuss life’s stories with a fellow happy traveller. Even though there are 50 years between us, we still discussed many hind legs off many donkeys.

pensioner, camper, camping, truck,

I asked both KP and Tom what world events they remember being shocked by, or any which had changed their attitudes towards life. Both instantly responded with President Kennedy’s assassination; how it shook them, and much of the world. They also both recalled their experiences of the end of World War Two. These guy’s current affairs were my history lessons in school. Over reading about it in a book, or listening to a gorgeous, 20 something year old teacher in a summer dress, holding her marker pen who I may have had a crush on, nothing is appreciated more than hearing about an experience from the horses mouth…and neither KP or Tom have a long face (I’m funnier in person, honestly). Many have found it odd that I sometimes associate with older people than myself, but as I mentioned in a previous post; our upbringing, experiences and environments shape us, and I have normally leaned towards “experienced” company.
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say in this update, but I met a guy in his 80’s and I made a friend. I’m also travelling with a guy who’s almost 70 and I think I cause him extreme anxiety most days. However, for wonderful reasons, the world is a brilliant place because of people that get off their backsides and experience it. People that create stories from their imaginations born from inspiration, people that do things differently, unconventional individuals who aren’t afraid to make themselves vulnerable. I don’t overthink why I associate with the varied characters I keep company with, and I believe if we rejected assumptions when we see people enjoying a friendship or intimacy, no matter how much they might appear to be from completely different worlds, we would all do a little better. If we must be ignorantly cautious, we should substitute judgment only for polite curiosity.
I also respect my elders. I find when you listen, most of them have better stories.

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Where am I now?

After extensive work and tours through Southern Africa, most of my time is spent between Malawi and Europe.
Go Untamed Safaris was striding into top gear, but volatile poitics in 2019, Covid in 2020, the impacts of Russia vs the World as well as insesent corruption forced my hand.
The dust is now settling. Everything has changed. New chapters are about to be written.

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