Ben Winston

Not your average travel blog

My last morning in Alaska

The concerning wait for a ferry which hasn’t arrived yet, after being delayed for three days has been frustrating. It’s also been threatening and frightful while in the woods. Filled with another adventure’s worth of memories and scenes in the back of my melancholic mind, played out on a highlight reel in sepia as the greying Alaskan backdrop drains me of colour. I sit frustrated on the dock with a handful of trail mix bars, a jar of water, a spoonful of peanut butter and an intense feeling of empty accomplishment.

I already have things to look forward to; apparently a four day ferry ride in about an hour (assuming one turns up and weather permits), a few weeks to recoup in fantastic and familiar Portland, two months in Malawi on projects and expeditions around wild elephants and other massive land mammals (the next adventure), and then Christmas in the English countryside with family. However, at the end of every trip, there is an emotional void. Sometimes it just appears out of nowhere, or you can fall into it when you’re least expecting, long after the journey. I’ve experienced unpredictable and spontaneous “depression”, but on this trail it’s slowly grown over the last few weeks and the empty feeling has been creeping up on me. In this instance, depression is too strong of a word. I’m getting used to the void. It’s part of travelling, part of completing something, and goes hand in hand with saying goodbye to something or someone.
Perspective is a wonderful thing, but accomplishing something always leaves a harrowing, unfulfilled feeling which strips my consciousness of focus and drive. It’s the end of a relationship. Like flushing a toilet. So “full of accomplishment”…but then emptied in a second as the valve opens and everything disappears. It’s easy to feel completely relieved and joyful of what wonders just took place, but it’s also easy to forget the occasion, the moment. It’s not like many notes were taken to remember it. Ok….maybe the toilet was not the best analogy, especially as I’m fairly au fait with taking a few notes and being optimistic to healthily and unconventionally fill the voids. I’d also rather you didn’t make an accomplishment synonymous with me using a loo.

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I’m sad. The adventure is behind me. There is nothing more to achieve on this journey and I must focus on another. Sometimes it’s just difficult to move on, but to be stagnant, is to die – just ask any shark. My heart already jumps forward to see what exciting things it can find and stalk, before journeying again, but I’m also wondering about what has just happened, where I’ve been, what I’ve seen and experienced – What it all means. The simplest way of summarising what or why I just travelled, was NOT for this moment of fulfilment, NOT for the completion, NOT to reflect on an achievement or the end, and NOT to find what was loitering prior to the flush. It was to experience everything on the journey to the fullest. To fill myself with encounters, ordeals, affairs, and everything on the way. This empty bowl, this blank canvas, this limbo between conclusion and inception will soon be over. It just takes a little time to wade through, before a new inauguration can begin.
For me, nothing fills this thoughtful void apart from another unconventional life project….and that is what’s already waiting beyond the ferry ride…

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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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