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To avoid making the same packing  mistakes on my next backpacking trip, I made a (warm-weather) list. I’m posting it here so you can benefit from it, too.

My Packing List



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Sunday, Jan. 25
Back in the States

It’s game time.

Time to write. Time to create. Time to turn all the blog entries from the last six months into one cohesive story, a travel tale that will appeal to the masses. I’m writing a book!

And I need your help. You’ve read this blog for months, and no doubt made judgements on which stories you liked and which you hated. Now I want you to share them with me.

Which blog entries made you laugh? Cry? Stop reading after the first sentence? Or come back to my site first thing the next morning, hoping for another story? Which tales stuck with you? Which did you tell your friends about? Which made you give this blog link to your co-worker in the cube next door?

Comment below, or e-mail me at alexiskgrant(AT)yahoo.com. I’ll put together a list of your favorites and post them here. We’ll create a “Best of Inkslinging,” so I can create a best-selling book.

Merci, merci!

Friday, Jan. 16
Back in the States

50,000 hits!

In just six months, the blog has gained 50,000 hits, thanks to all of you readers!

Wednesday, Jan. 14
Back in the States

When I travel, I walk. A lot. It’s the best way to explore new places.

But when I explored by foot in Africa during these last six months, my knee hurt, although I wasn’t sure why. It pained me enough that I gave up running for the duration of my trip, hoping rest would help me recover.

I skipped out on climbing Mount Cameroon, which I had considered one of the highlights of my trip.  And I popped pain pills even for light hikes.

So one of the first things I did when I got home was see a knee doctor. (Looking back, I should have visited the doctor before leaving for Africa, since even then I was suffering from knee pain. I had hoped it was temporary.)

Two visits and an MRI later, I know why I’ve been in such pain: I have a torn meniscus and a cyst. That meniscus, or cartiledge on the inner knee that allows for movement, is pretty necessary for an active 20-something like me.

To fix it, I need minor surgery. I’ve scheduled it for the end of the month.

Of course the idea of surgery is less than thrilling. But to be honest, I feel relieved to find out what’s been ailing me all these months, ever since I ran a series of trail races in Houston in April. If this surgery will help me get back into running again, I’m up for it.

In fact, I even feel lucky. Not lucky to have an injury, but lucky to have the means to fix it. Africa has a way of doing that — making me feel lucky for everything.

Imagine if Africa was my home instead of a place to visit, if I was a villager in any one of the countries I just explored. I’d be in the same pain, probably working out in the fields every day, cultivating crops to feed my family. Yet I’d likely never have the chance to visit a knee doctor or undergo surgery to fix the injury. I’d be forced to live with the pain.

But I’m an American! I’ve got access to a doctor, a surgery and health insurance to pay for most of it. (Thanks to Dad, who forced me to buy health insurance before I left.)

So I’ll gratefully go under the knife. Two months later I should be able to run again.

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