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Behind the scenes of The Backyard Hostel

So I was asked to write something for the C-re-aid blog… However, I am not an architect. My name is Jens and I arrived in Moshi on February 18 to manage the Backyard Hostel for at least a few months. I have been thinking what to write about for the last couple of days, but I’ve been really struggling. After having my idea to write from the perspective of Malkia, the Backyard cat, turned down (you’re missing out on some great Cat Stevens material), I’ve finally decided to take it a little more seriously and introduce the current staff and maybe set out some objectives for the improvement of the hostel in the near future.

I’m not sure how aware you are of the hostel and its entourage, so allow me to introduce the team. Obviously there’s the aforementioned Malkia, Swahili for queen. Great name for a cat, were it not for the fact that she’s really a he. In with a less tolerable crowd the identity issues might have got the better of him, but not with us. Backpackers in any way, shape or form, take note and come on down for your own piece of liberal Backyard treatment!

Then there’s Nelson, the nicest and most admirable Maasai night guard in all of Tanzania, he scoffs at the modern gadgets less respectable security guards might be tempted to carry and duly guards the hostel with bow and arrow. Next, I would like to introduce Kathel, our lovely cleaning lady and by far the hardest working person here. There’s me, Jens, as pointed out before I just got here a few weeks back from Belgium and although I wouldn’t say I’m a born hostel manager, I am slowly starting to get the hang of things. And last but not least, apart from our three nameless rabbits, there’s our house turtle, Cowardly Frank, or at least that was before I found out he actually prefers to be called Frank the Tank. He’s getting on in years now though and little of his youthful fearlessness, which he was once known for apparently, remains… Allow me a quick side note to illustrate my point: as I am writing this, he’s been trying and failing to move past a cooking pot at least three times, recoiling in fear each time he knocks it over.

Anyway, moving on there’s the hostel itself of course. As the name suggests, there’s a great backyardwithan outside bar, a couple of hammocks, a great volleyball court which we all enjoy, even if by popular demand it probably should be slightly bigger and our pièce de résistance: a huge giraffe, expertly made by Seppe. Not only is it great to look at, it serves as a reference point for every piki-piki or taxi driver who might not be entirely sure about where exactly the Backyard hostel is, so much so in fact that we might as well be called the Big Giraffe Hostel! If you haven’t visited us yet (shame on you) and you haven’t seen our website, take a look at It paints a much clearer picture than my rambling ever could.

In order to end on an ambitious note, I would just like to finish by stating some of our plans for the next few months. Let’s hope I can get back to you on this with some good news and a few pictures in the near future. Although our backyard does look dandy, there’s a few things we’d very much like to add to it, some for practical reasons, others for pleasure. We all know the rain in Spain mainly stays in the plain, but if the rumours are to be believed that’s not the case for Moshi and seeing as there will be water everywhere, we want to finish the concrete tile path we’ve got in our backyard to at least continue all the way to the house. On the reconstruction front, we need to rebuild a shed that has nearly been taken down by termites and we’d like to do that with the help of our signature plastic bottle materials this time, so look out for that. As for pleasure, there are plans for a brand new stone oven! And then there’s still the chicken coop to come, so we can provide some company for our animal contingent and some eggs for the others. I’ve been reassured by Laia and her friend Giulia, two architects who have been with us these last few days for research on another C-re-aid project for next year, that they will draw us up some plans for a chicken coop/rabbit hutch (their current crib is due an upgrade)/compost bin-combo, which I’m probably looking forward to the most!

Right, time to sign off, this is the year 2017 and people don’t really read anymore, let alone 900-word articles on hostels with pretty backyards, so this is it from me for now.

Take care,


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