While traveling, perhaps the most immediate difference one can understand, interact with, and will vividly remember is the barrier presented by language.
But, while language can isolate, it can also provide moments of comic relief and child-like delight to the weary traveler. As soon as we landed in London, and since (landing in South Africa and Namibia) we’ve found and held onto a few gems!
Pumula is Zulu for “to relax” or “lie down and rest”. And how fitting after such a long journey! This is the name of our hotel accommodations.
In South Africa, Namibia, and the UK: Elevators are called “lifts”.
Restrooms/bathrooms are referred to as “toilets”. Although it would seem impolite to call them this in the states, when you think about it, it’s actually a really direct way to ask for what you need. Our driver, a young Namibian with an Afrikaner surname told us a beautifully illustrated joke about a South African visiting the US and eating a taco for the first time. Hilarity ensues when he is asked if he would like a napkin for “the big mess”.
A diaper is a “napkin” and a napkin is a “serviette”. Do NOT make the mistake of asking for a napkin at a diner. You will be looked at, maybe glanced at twice, and then asked to clarify why you would need a diaper immediately after eating.
A safari is a “trip” in Kiswahili. While chatting with a woman on the bus that took us to our last plane, Maurice and Joanne were encouraged to take a ‘safari’ to the coast. Confused, they were wondering what safari options were available before quickly being told that a safari could happen anywhere, any time.
Hurrah to colorful language that we did not grow up using, but has already made us feel like we are learning!
Hurrah to learning new things and working to soak in as much as possible!
Hurrah to this miraculous safari!