Journeys Without a Map

Projects and Expeditions… Any Which Way

About Me

This is the long overdue showcase of expeditions and projects, photographs and jottings, musings and rants, past and present, from a life spent in pursuit of… well, I’m still unsure; why not simply a time well spent?

I called it ‘Journeys Without a Map’ because one of the first things to document was a 3-4 month expedition across Central Asia with my wife using using camels and donkeys, but no map.  And besides no map, we had no GPS, nor any pre-planned route to follow. Instead we followed the leads that were presented to us by the people we met along the way.  Sadly, in China at least, these were more often angry policemen than any other demographic and most of the leads were not those we wished to follow.  In fact, I might term them ‘mirror leads’, as we generally tried to do the exact opposite, which attracted more and more angry policemen and eventually saw our camel impounded.

Nonetheless, it’s still my preferred method of traveling and in many ways it seems that my entire life has been without a map.  I generally just follow my nose or my heart and make it up as I go along, a modus operandi that has always yielded rich and unusual experiences as long as I’ve stayed true to it, which hasn’t always been the case.  But I think the title covers extremely well everything that I have done and am doing.

We’ve been back from that journey for a while now and this blog is onto other things.  I was working on editing the film we shot in China and Kyrgyzstan, entitled ‘Getting My Wife To Settle Down’, but it’s been  buried beneath the latest project, which might even prove to be the biggest yet, including, as it does, world domination.  And then, of course, there’s a living to make, a wife to keep happy, two small children to feed, teach and entertain; health to keep up, meals to cook and eat, hours to sleep.  Where do the high achievers in life – you know, those individuals who are described as ‘prolific’ ‘this and that’: successful businessmen who are also prolific writers and the like – find the time to do all this stuff and get even more done on top? How do they do it?  By delegation, obviously, and by having a private income, I suspect.  But I have nobody to delegate to and no money.  Hmmm…problem.

It’s time to create the right conditions to be a prolific son of a bitch.  An idea is forming.

Watch this space, or at least click on ‘follow’.

And who am I, exactly?  This is how my current Biography appears.

1.  MARK ANSTICE – army officer, explorer, filmmaker, author, TV presenter, yacht master.MGA Freedive

Mark is 50 years old and was brought up in the Scottish highlands by parents who believed their children should learn to analyse risk for themselves as soon as they can walk.   I began leading expeditions whilst serving as an officer in the British Army, coercing the lads into joining me on ambitious desert, jungle and mountain adventures squeezed between operational commitments that took me to Iraq, Bosnia and Central America.  Leaving the Army in 1995 I continued to carve a living of sorts from leading expeditions in Earth’s wilder places, despite the occasional ill-conceived attempt at business and settling down.  A friend, Bruce Parry, rescued me from one of these in 1999 and together we co-directed, shot and starred in the ‘ground-breaking’ and multi-award winning film ‘Cannibals & Crampons’, and I authored my first book, First Contact (Eye Books 2002).  When 9/11 crushed all hopes of expedition funding I briefly resorted to my military background, running an armed force of over 1,000 Iraqis in defense of infrastructure, but then returned to the safety of Arctic ice and malarial jungle to become a TV personality/presenter for the BBC (Blizzard-BBC2; First Contact–BBC4) and then Travel Channel (World’s Lost Tribes, 3 series; Secrets of the Tribes1 series).  Losing that gig in 2010 I have spent the last years self-building an eco-lodge and permaculture centre on a remote stretch of Africa’s Atlantic Coast, and a charity devoted to sustainable agriculture.

It’s about time to engage 5th gear.

And the other person who’ll feature heavily on this site is my wife and team mate on this ‘mapless’ journey through life, Ayelen (pronounced Ash-e-len) Aguilar, Argentinian hottie.  This is her biography.

AYELEN AGUILAR – Ski & Rock Climbing Instructor, Artist, Accomplished Solo Traveller Ayelen 3

Ayelen, 36, was raised in the north of Patagonia where the outdoor life was pretty much obligatory.  A ski instructor by the age of 16 she was also a keen climber, becoming a respected instructor of the sport whilst studying at Cordoba University.  After 4 yrs of study she set out to hitchhike 17,000kms from Ushuaia at the foot of South America to Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean.  Working wherever possible it was a journey that took her 18 months and the length of the Americas and it forged her lifelong love for solo travel and for putting her trust in the locals she meets along the way.  Such faith has led her to experience, amongst others, tribal living and such ‘men-only’ work as deckhand on a Central American coastal trader for 6 weeks.  More normal work opportunities led her eventually to settle in Europe where she became a painter and decorator while also continuing to teach rock-climbing and skiing.  Always keeping the spring and autumn for travel, subsequent adventures included hitchhiking the Sahara and West Africa and cycling throughout Europe, South East Asia and Japan.   And neither has marriage to TV adventurer Mark Anstice brought any sign of settling down – for the last few years, when not working in Ibiza and the Pyrenees, she has been building a permaculture centre in North Africa, often on her own for weeks at a time in the middle of nowhere with a workforce of up to 20 men speaking nothing but Arabic.  In American parlance, she kicks ass.

21 Responses to “About Me”

    • markanstice

      Sign up? I dunno, I’m still working this out, pal. I think you apply to follow me on twitter and if you’re lucky I peruse your request in a generous frame of mind. x

      Reply
  1. richard anstice

    you look completely barking in that picture………..two sandwiches short of a picnic bro’

    Reply
  2. RUTH

    I’m a fan!
    What an amazing pair you are. Looking forward to following your next adventure

    Reply
    • markanstice

      Thank you, John. I’ll be blogging where I can but we aren’t planning to hit many towns and in any case I have no idea how popular a camel tied up outside an internet cafe will be. We’ll just have to see.

      Mark

      Reply
  3. Nick Wright

    Fantastic and great you’ve set off. You should have kept the hats though. Tracking your adventure. Cloud

    Reply
    • markanstice

      Thanks mate, but we´re clearly having enough trouble in any case without looking like that. But this place has some great hats anyway. I´ll be stocking up on the way back through.

      Reply
  4. Ian Penman

    Good Luck Mark & Ayelen, have fun and get back safely. Mark I would like you to sign the British Bike mag from Feb ’89 about your Passage from India if you don’t mind? It’ll be framed and go on the wall in the man cave next to Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark’s autographed pictures. I’ll work through Richard to get it to you, greatly appreciate it. Safe travels. Ian Penman

    Reply
    • markanstice

      My God, Ian, you have one of those! I might have to nick yours cos I have no idea where my copy is. Check out the natty 80´s singlet, I made that in some dysentery-ridden torpor as i tried to figure out how to go the remaining 2000 miles on the remaining 15 quid. When the torpor lifted I was dressed like a twat but had the answer…a four foot length of hosepipe!

      Best

      Mark

      Reply
  5. Ian Penman

    Mark, I have bought a copy of the magazine for you, now I know the exact Publication name & month and year it was easy to find, I found one, amazingly, here in the US! It took me ages to find the mag on ebay UK, I’ve been looking for it for years. The last one I read was undoubtedly your copy in Lintrathen, remembering the story detail about the CND battery cover is what confirmed the find. I sent Richard a copy of the scanned cover and pages if you need an electronic copy. I’ll send them over. All the best. Ian

    Reply
  6. richard anstice

    Bro’, thanks to Ian’s efforts you can now put a framed copy up in your new cludgie and your guests will no doubt be able to look out from the ‘chocolate starfish’ window and see the real thing. . . . . . . . . . . . . dripping oil all over your lovely moroccan tiles.

    Reply
  7. Hazel

    Hi Ayelen and Mark! So good to know about your experiences and past trails. Very inspiring! Wish you a safe and wonderful trip with your camel! Looking forward to more of your stories!

    Best,
    Hazel

    From Urumqi

    Reply
  8. Darshan

    Ahh…The dance with the unknown.Sounds like a very interesting adventure.Go the way of the white clouds!

    Big Love

    Darshan

    Reply
  9. Nellie

    Just started reading the blog – bit confused which way round to read it! Fascinating read – and in love with Kashi… pity you couldn’t have taken her home to carry the cement! Keep safe, nellie xx

    Reply
    • markanstice

      Hi Nellie

      My blog entries are listed on the right of the page in ascending order. click on them individually to read in order.

      Next one coming soon.

      xx

      Reply
  10. Katy Lynton

    Hi Mark and Ayelen, I loved reading your blog it was really engaging. What a journey….what an adventure. Hope you manage to salvage enough film footage, loving the title of your film! Haha the universe has plans. love to you, Katy xx

    Reply
  11. Marisa Guerrero

    hola Aye, como estas? las fotos son increibles!!! cuanto valor!! jajaja nosotros muy bien!! q hermosa es la vidaaaa!!! abrazo

    Reply

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