Back in the late 90's, I spent almost two years teaching myself Amharic. I bought tapes, listened to Ethiopian radio, and taught myself the alphabet.
I planned a trip, bought my plane ticket, and got my shots. I prepared my parents for the idea that I might not come back. 6 weeks before my departure date, a war broke out between Ethiopian and Eritrea, and all westerners were removed by the State Department. End of trip. End of story.
Fast forward to today. I've been trying to learn a little Swahili. I'm guessing it will take me another year to get to any level of proficiency that would make it fun.
But yesterday I found out that my parents are going to Tanzania in June. According to my friend Charles, Tanzanian Swahili is very cool. And now I'm very jealous.
The only thing that assuages my jealousy is knowing that the group going is lead by a bunch of priests. Older priests. I'm guessing they won't be interested in going to nightclubs and probably not interested in finding out if hip-hop is really being used as a revolution/movement building tool. I saw an interesting film on that subject, done by a PENN grad student last year.
I also know they're planning on a safari of sorts. I'm not sure how I feel about safari. I might be into some hiking that happened along some animals, but I don't think I'd be interested in going to a reserve. I've never like the zoo, and I'm kind of afraid of the wilderness.
Regardless, I'm still jealous. But I will use the extra energy brought about by the raging jealousy to learn more Swahili and try to save money.
For any of you that are interested in Tanzania, try listening to their "hot" radio station: http://www.bongoradio.com/