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Blondes have more pun

Hello, is this thing on? Check 1, 2, check… Oh, it is. Off we go then…

Sorry, I just wanted to see if technical issues might have caused this recent radio silence, but it turns out we have no-one to blame but ourselves. I do apologise.

From left to right: Dries Potier, Chris Camilleri and Jens Vandevyvere

We are back though and let me start off with some quite devastating news. My time here is swiftly coming to an end. I wrote a quick personal introduction back in March when I offered a little insight into the hostel and now, nearly ten months on, I already have to say my goodbyes. Next week I am off and Nuru, with the help of Loti, will take over at the Backyard.

As we all know, time is circular and so it is only right for my, admittedly scarce, blog posts to come full circle as well. I will update you on who is currently residing and working at the hostel as well as explain some of the things we have accomplished here over the past months.

First of all, Nelson is no longer with us. Don’t get me wrong, he is still very much alive and kicking, but he is doing most of his kicking in Kenya now, I hear. Good luck to him! Instead both Robison and Martin have fortified the castle. Far less certain is the fate of our dear turtle Frank who, believe it or not, managed to escape(!) the premises back in June, not really a feather in our collective watchfulness cap. However, knowing him, he is most likely living it up in Zanzibar right about now, so let’s not dwell too much on what has been. As far as the rest of our animal friends are concerned, not much has changed. Our rabbits have been living up to their reputation and have now increased more than threefold to a total of ten! Good for them.

More importantly though, we have not been resting on our laurels either and I think it is fair to say we have improved many of the hostel’s facilities over the past few months. Under the watchful eyes of the ever restless Dries and Chris, without whom all this would never have been possible, we managed to lay the foundations for what will undoubtedly be regarded in retrospect as the first steps towards lifting the hostel out of backpacking mediocrity and into the realm of high-end Moshi lodges… I am joking of course. Where would all the backpackers go?

Anyway, allow me a tiny pun run to offer a quick chronological overview of what we have accomplished over the summer months.

The revamped Backyard

Did June know that while I was off to take my exams in Belgium and the others were working on the library in Nungwi, Zanzibar, Dries and Chris took it upon themselves to finish the pizza oven shed and introduce a system of canals built out of stone in order to be able to properly drain the rainwater during the rainy season? It was a truly Brobdingnagian, forgive me, I have been re-reading Gulliver’s Travels lately, undertaking. And they managed to finish it in the same month!

Did July when you said they finished everything the same month? Well, I did, sorry. It took quite a bit longer than that. Blood, sweat and tears, mainly mine, were shed and many arguments about deadlines and budgets were had, but we did finish everything by the end of July if I am not mistaken. Sheds were rebuilt, Mathias finished the actual oven and new stepping stones which light up at night were put in place. All work and no play then, you ask? Nothing of the sort in fact! Besides our Friday cocktail nights, I had probably the best birthday of my life in July, thanks in part to the first Backyard hog roast, for which I would again like to thank everybody involved! I will never forget.

New hostel house

August of wind could have still knocked over the little guard’s house though, right? Right, which is why we took advantage of this opportunity to test out some rammed earth walls at the hostel and at the same time turn what was once a glorified toilet into a proper 21st century home! Loreto and Guillermo came over from Spain to lend us a hand and spent some time designing and then actually building this new place. In the process, I have proven myself to be somewhat of a reverse Robin Hood however. What was at first intended to be an upgrade on the guards’ lodgings, quickly turned into a permanent room for the hostel manager. Shame on me and my entire family. Although it has allowed us to rent out an extra room inside for backpackers and all profits go towards C-re-aid lest we forget, so not all has been lost.

Construction quieted down a bit afterwards and that was it. We have been able to enjoy an improved Backyard ever since. New volunteers arrived and people switched their focus to different projects. If nothing else, we have at least left the hostel in a better position than before!

As well as thank everyone for everything they have given me over the past ten months, I would like to wish Nuru and Loti the best of luck with everything in the future.

Jens

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