Translated from Spanish to mean: “My home is your home.”
I couldn’t write a travel blog without dedicating an entire post to Couchsurfing. Since I’ve joined this community in 2008 while studying abroad in Florence, I’ve met some pretty amazing people who have taught me, among other things,
how to solve a rubik’s cube,
how to give a good massage,
how to dance the salsa and
how to travel around the world on a bicycle.
Couchsurfing is an online international hospitality network that was formed in 2004 to help connect travelers (or ‘surfers’) with locals. By signing up on the website, you have access to an entire database of people who are willing to open up their homes to you for several days. If this sounds sketchy, it really isn’t. Members set up a profile with fairly detailed information about their travel philosophy, interests, experiences etc. You can hence read what they write themselves and what other people write about them in their references before deciding if this person is trustworthy. You don’t have to reply if you think someone is sketchy or insincere (this is why my reply rate is 39%), and you get a pretty good idea of how your potential hosts are like if you really look through their profile thoroughly. I usually make it a point to read through all the references before sending a request to my hosts, and this hasn’t failed me in the past 2 years. It’s undeniable that one of the biggest draws of Couchsurfing is the free accommodation, but when you’re actually living like the locals, it’s a whole new experience altogether.
Here are some of my favourite moments while Couchsurfing:
Alex presenting me with my birthday cake baked by Sabine. It was called White Dreams, which I very embarrassingly heard as wet dreams the first time. To date it remains the best birthday cake I’ve ever had. Alex and Sabine were the first CS hosts we stayed with, and they left an indelible impression because of their amazing hospitality. We were hooked on CS from then on (:And then there was the time we stayed with Jose in Puerto Rico. A professor in sports science, he is also an avid hat-collector! He was so in love with the Chinese hat that we brought for him that he wore it for the whole day, even while lecturing! We also got to cook a Chinese meal (lotus root soup, mapo tofu and braised chicken!) for his three gorgeous children. And in return, they taught us how to dance the salsa 😀
Watch Weibiao try!
Being with Carlos in Tulum was a cinematic experience. Fate was already in the cards for us as we bumped into each other at the hotel he worked at the day before we were supposed to meet. He serenaded us with Spanish ballads as we were driving back in the rain after snorkeling with turtles. We tried to reciprocate with Mandarin pop songs. And he gave the most. amazing. (and sensual). massages. Weibiao enjoyed it so much he concussed on the massage table.
And of course, there was the incredible time we spent with Axel and Mariana, who have such an amazing story that they deserve a post to themselves. For now, I’ll leave you with a snippet of the fun we had (: