Posted by: gypsytales | October 13, 2009

How Couchsurfing Changed our Lives

How Couchsurfing Changed our Lives

I can remember my first overseas trip with my husband.  I so desperately wanted to get behind the tourist facades and meet a local who would take us back to their place, where we could meet the family, chat about their lives, allow us to taste the food they eat, introduce us to their friends, find out what work they did, where they did their shopping, discover what they believed, teach us their language.

So one evening, looking down at the underground below, in a foreign country, where we didn’t speak the language (although I’d taken Spanish lessons for 3 months I was still very rusty), we decided to catch the subway train until the last stop and find out what was at the end of the line. 

Subway in Argentina

Subway in Argentina

It didn’t take long before we were spotted by a local resident who asked us politely, “Are shooo mizzzing?”  (I think he was asking, “are you lost?”).  We soon began chatting and after many gesticulations and me torturing his Spanish mother tongue we settled for English, which he learnt by watching American movies.  We were able to converse quite easily, although there was the odd ocassion that his word mix-ups humorously confused us.  Like when we were leaving the subway he said, “it’s very juicy down there!” 

Coffee with Alejandro in Argentina

Coffee with Alejandro in Argentina

This unexpected interaction with Alejandro only fueled my curiosity to learn and discover more about other cultures and so we began to travel abroad as often as time and finances permitted.  Not merely satisfied with being a tourist, I seriously pondered how we were going to integrate into the fabric of foreign cultures, customs and traditions.  One possibility is to be able to meet and mingle with locals, but how does one accomplish this?  

My Eureka moment arrived when I discovered COUCHSURFING.  You’d get a much better idea of Couchsurfing if you click on their website (just click on the word Couchsurfing for a direct link).  A brief description using their tag line says, “CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.”

And so the adventure began.  While we’ve been planning our vagabonding, it made sense that if we couldn’t go to the world, the world could come to us and so we signed up to become members of Couchsurfing.  Being a Couchsurfing host has been a thrilling experience and we’ve had the most marvellous Surfers visiting us from all over the world. 

Our Couchsurfing experiences have confirmed for us that there are alternative methods of travelling for those who don’t want to be tourists.

Below are some pics of who has come to visit and from where:

Paul from USA & Marianne from Norway at Walter Sisulu Gardens

Paul from USA & Marianne from Norway at Walter Sisulu Gardens

Bobbi & Donna from New Zealand at Westcliff Hotel

Bobbi & Donna from New Zealand at Westcliff Hotel

Chris & Magda from Poland at Bean There Coffee Company

Chris & Magda from Poland at Bean There Coffee Company

Cristina from Spain

Cristina from Spain

Frederic from France

Frederic from France

Roberto & David from Mexico doing Abbey Road cover from the Beatles

Roberto & David from Mexico doing Abbey Road cover from the Beatles

Jim from Norway

Jim from Norway

Jonas from The Netherlands at Walter Sisulu Gardens

Jonas from The Netherlands at Walter Sisulu Gardens

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