I have met the most unbelievable people staying at Nairobi Backpackers! Its like every time I say hello to someone, I discover another incredible and interesting person! Let me tell you about a few of them:
I just met Rob tonight as he was getting off the internet. He mentioned that he was glad he was able to catch up on his work emails. I asked him what he does for a living so he told me that he was leading a trek to the top of Mt. Kilemanjaro! When I mentioned that I was interested in climbing Kilamanjaro, he told me about a local guide who could give me a good deal. He informed me that now is a wonderful time to go because there is more snow at the peak than he has ever seen. I learned that he’s a freelance travel guide from Austria and gets hired to take people all over the world. What an amazing job! He also told me all about Zanzibar and got out the map to show me the best way to get there! Rob is one cool guy!
Caroline is a brilliant and sophisticated doctoral student at the University of Washington. She is originally from England and has carefully retained her English accent. When talking to new people I enjoyed telling them that she was from Seattle and then watching her immediate clarification that she was actually from England. Caroline studied the Aids epidemic in her Master’s program, making her a fantastic source of information. She also has interest and knowledge about many of the issues in Africa today. She is on her way to Sudan where she is working on research for doctoral dissertation about Sudanese women who helped to negotiate peace from the grassroots during the long war in Sudan.
Although she is white, Vera is a native of Zimbabwe and his lived in Africa all of her life. This fact has earned her the right to have a biting sarcastic wit and sense of humor in matters related to Africa. She made us laugh our heads off as she described various conversations and experiences that she has had in Africa. She has led game hunters into the bush for years. She has a hardened and tough sense about her that has earned the nickname of “black rhino” from the Africans. When I’d come back from the World Social Forum in the evenings we would sit around and have the “anti-social world slummit” with Vera. Behind all of the jokes and laughter though, it is evident that Vera cares about the needs of Africa… she just has her own way of addressing them. She currently lives in Zanzibar where she runs a five-star resort.
Ludwig is one of those all around nice guys that you only find every once in awhile. He is an engineer from Germany and came to work in Nairobi as an intern for an NGO. As he described some of the experiences that he faces at work, it is evident that it must be hard for him to work in this atmosphere. He seems to patiently grin and bear it, however, and keeps on working hard no matter what happens. When I encountered him in the city center the other day, he invited me out for cappucino. He always seems eager to help and I like that about him.
Kevin is an illustrator from Brighton, England. He does his pencil drawn illustrations from his studio off a city street, so that people will stop by and talk, making art a more social experience. Every year for the last 20 years, he has taken October to April to travel somewhere else in the world. He takes pictures wherever he goes and then brings them back to England to use them as the basis for his illustrations. He showed me his work online the other day and his drawings are intricate and stunningly realistic. I would love to get some of his work someday. He was always up for a good conversation, and whether we were discussing India or his horrific safari with the Australians that he swears must have been Steve Irwin’s family, it was always entertaining and a good laugh!
One of the few Americans that I have met here in Africa, Celina is from Los Angeles. She came to Nairobi to attend the World Social Forum before heading to Ghana where she will be working in a refugee camp. She seems to have a genuine heart for the needs of people and in particular for Africa.
The owner of Nairobi Backpackers Hostel is a man named Ken. Having spent his career in the British army, and after working for many years in Africa, he decided to stay and run the hostel. He doesn’t need the money but says that he’s had the chance to have a lot of experiences in life and he simply wants to help young people have that opportunity. He’s working on developing an affiliated group of backpacker’s hostels from Addis Abbaba all the way to Cape Town. He learns the names of the people that come through his hostel quite quickly and he’s been very helpful to our group.
DJ Church is a teacher from Canada. He is very interested in current issues and knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has decided to take several years off to travel the world. He’s also a writer and has begun writing on various themes that he encounters along the way. He’s an excellent writer and very interesting to talk to about things that matter. Fortunately, we met him in Nairobi and are staying at the same place as him in Kampala.
Nairobi Backpackers, with all of its interesting guests, has been an amazing place to stay!