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38 days remaining.  No clever mathematical symbolism in that number (that I can work out), I’m afraid. As the clock counts down, real life is beginning to behave oddly at the edges, like the period just before the end of a dream, when you feel what you thought to be real coming to an end – giving way gently to a new feeling of the world. This is that. It’s getting stronger and stronger, and will consume me soon, I know. But in the remaining days, there are things that must be done. Plans that remain to be planned.  A fundamental part of which is assembling a first aid kit.

After all, nobody ever died from a crappy camera.

What second-degree sunburn in Vietnam and sore feet in Mozambique should have taught me (and up until that point hadn’t) was that a well-stocked first-aid kit and knowledge of how to use it is important. In Vietnam, I had no first-aid kit. In Mozambique, it consisted of a box of sticking plasters and a gauze pad. It was only thanks to far better planning on Hawk’s part that I was able to fix my feet until we returned to a world of antibiotics and proper care.

This time will be different. I completed my level 1 first aid qualification a month and a bit ago. Now, my first aid kit has been assembled. While I guess this counts as a gear to take with post, I would urge other would-be travelers to pay far more attention to this than to camera models and netbooks. After all, nobody ever died from a crappy camera.

Contained in a small, green canvas bag-type thing, the first aid kit for this trip – and the first proper one I have possibly ever carried – holds the following:

  • Bandages (50 & 60mm)
  • #2 First Aid Dressing
  • #3 First Aid Dressing
  • Non-allergenic paper tape
  • Waterproof plasters
  • Fabric plasters of various sorts
  • Roll of fabric plaster tape
  • Dressing strip
  • Triangular bandage
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Tweezers
  • Resuscitation aid
  • Burn gel dressing
  • Rescue blanket
  • Gloves
  • Gauze pads (7.5 x 7.5cm)
  • Safety pins
  • Paracetamol
  • Scissors
  • Cotton buds
  • Povidone ointment
  • Wound cleaner
  • Rehydrat (Rehydration/electrolyte powder)
  • Anthisan (antihistamine cream for treating skin reactions, bites and stings)
  • Calamine lotion (for sunburn, rash soothing)
  • Immodium (for treatment of diarrhoea)
  • Panado (for headaches)
  • BC 56 antiseptic cream (for burns, cuts and abrasions)
  • Bactroban cream (slightly more hardcore antiseptic cream)
  • Plastic splints

Packed all together and then momentarily opened up on the sofa in order to be photographalated, the whole kit looks a lot like this:

The first aid kit. Packed full of life-saving goodness.

It's about the same size as two large books. Or the Lonely Planet guide to Africa (that puppy is huge).

So there you go. While I may still get sunburned, hurt my feet or eat something disagreeable, I should be able to cope with it better than anything I’ve yet dealt with on my travels.