We have been told so many times how crazy we are for doing what we are doing, whether it be the risks we take or leaving our careers or being away from our daughter……well yet another bit of alleged craziness, finally couchsurfing.
For those of you less familiar with this approach, this is when as a host you advertise your home on Couchsurfing website, offering a bed or couch for someone to sleep on for a short period of time, usually one to three nights, the idea being a chance to help travellers find accommodation and meet people from different cultures. From the traveller perspective, known as the Couchsurfer, they get the chance to meet locals and spend time with them in their homes or local towns. There is no monetary exchange, this is all in the spirit of sharing and learning from each other. Radical, out there…not really, just different from staying at some sterile hotel or hostel, an added benefit is that it is free, but not the main focus.
Prior to our travels we had had several couchsurfers stay at our home in Cape Town and had missed out on our only previous opportunity in Dar es Salaam to couchsurf due to a train delay, so in Florida was our first real opportunity.
We struck gold with Tina & Tony in Fort Lauderdale, a wonderful friendly and entertaining couple who welcomed us into their home and shared meals, drinks, swimming, jokes and a general good laugh together, to such an extent they invited us back to spend Halloween with them at a nearby party, that’s another story.
Our next couchsurfing was a virgin host or were we her virgin guests, either way, staying with Robin in the leafy suburbs of Coral Gable in Miami we definitely met a wonderful lady. Robin, a sprightly seventy-something had never done this before, she figures that while she can’t travel this year, she will bring the world to her through couchsurfing. Such a kind lady, very hospitable and knowledgeable, our long conversations eeking out stories from her life and views on the world, add laughs galore to the laugh-bank. Maybe she is brave for doing this, but I fugure her friends at church have a secret desire to be this brave in learning about the world, an inspiration!
We did not stay with Brett in Miami as he was fully committed to other visitors, but he offered to take us out oneday. Off we went to find his house somewhere in Miami and be welcomed by this generous guy who just loves his city and showing it off to visitors. Brett drove us all over Miami, showing us sights and explaining key spots and developments in the area, great bloke and full of life and vigour.
Next up was Kris, a retired surgeon living in New Orleans, where we stayed with him in his apartment. Kris originally from Kansas truly loves his adopted city, mainly due to his huge selection of nightlife around Bourbon Street. Taking us out and showing us around town and having drinks with us, whenever he could twist my arm, was quite a treat as the added plus was the fabulous ‘arguments’ we had about life and our varying perspectives on things, a great character for sure.
This is just a brief sample of our couchsurfing exploits at this time and the joy of making friends with locals and learning about their culture. I think the greater risk is not opening yourself up to different ideas and beliefs but smiling and learning about each other, no rights and wrongs, no good and bad, just differences we should all be learning about.
Friends we shall make every effort to keep in touch with and return one day in the future.
If you are interested to find out more about Couchsurfing check out the below link.