I cracked up this morning when I heard on the news that San Diego Zoo’s “Wild Animal Park” is going to change its name to the San Diego Zoo “Safari Park.” It’s hilarious to me because in Swahili a “safari” is a journey — sure, driving around looking at animals is technically a journey, but really any old road trip qualifies (even if there are no lions). Hopefully they left all the annoying guys handing out safari pamphlets back in Nairobi!

I don’t know when the word “safari” entered the American lexicon, but the Beach Boys definitely went on a Surfin’ Safari in 1962. Americans are apparently good at integrating words from other languages into English, though. Off the top of my head, we have kindergarten from the Germans and smörgåsbord from the Swedes, and hakuna matata! You did know that’s Swahili too, right?

On a semi-related note, I just went on a surfin’ safari in Pacific Beach. The water was freezing and the waves were small and blown out, but I managed to get twenty minutes of good body surfing in before my body was numb and I was tired of floating around out there. I had to take a walk down the boardwalk to warm up afterwards. Brrr!


There’s some Ethiopian Orthodox holiday going on right now. Nobody’s explained it to me, but most of my Ethiopian colleagues have sworn off milk and meat until April, and there’s a man chanting over a loudspeaker in some church next to the ILRI campus for hours at a time. I asked someone at lunch today what the man was saying but he said nobody knows. I laughed for a second but realized he wasn’t kidding — the man is chanting in Ge’ez, a dead language from Ethiopia’s past.

Add it to the list of things that make Ethiopia completely different than any other country I’ve ever been to (especially its neighbors in East Africa). I’ll be in Addis Ababa for another week; plenty of time to buy a bunch of gourmet coffee beans and postcards. Stay tuned and wish me luck!