COUCHSURFING – the best way for travelling and meeting locals!
Firstly, I would like to explain the term “COUCHSURFING” for those who have never heard about it or don´t know a lot about this amazing way of travelling.
Technically, www.couchsurfing.com is hospitality and social networking website which enables people create their profiles and realize their travel plans based on exchanging cultures by hosting or being hosted by people who love travelling!
Less technically, couchsurfing is an amazing way how to travel more cheaply and meet local people who offer their houses to travellers for free. Why would they do that? Well, the answer should be following: “to meet new people, to exchange cultures, to learn and experience something new, to help people who need it, to show the best of their cultures, to teach about their habits and traditions, to promote their countries, and much more…”.
Now, after short explanation of couchsurfing (CS – my abbreviation), I would like to describe my personal experience with CS during my travels through South America. Around 70% of my travels were realized through CS and I am more than happy to have found the courage to do it and experienced the best of South America through this amazing social network. During my travels I was hosted by 27 couchsurfing hosts, by 7 friends and/or people I met during travels and I stayed in couple of hostels (one night stay or while travelling with a group of people what happened to me in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina). I met more or less 20 people from or thanks to couchsurfing who didn´t host me but were willing to spend some time with me and show me their cities, towns, villages, traditions, habits or just spending hours about funny conversations with travel stories. Of course, I was meeting dozens and dozens of other local people, travellers and backpackers but especially thanks to couchsurfing I never felt alone!
Based on my personal experience, there are 4 different types of CS hosts. Type n. 1 – the best one! The real traveller whose intention of CS is to help travellers, show them their culture and to share their free time! Type n. 2 – the introvert one! Quiet, introvert and shy type who wants to improve his/her social life by CS. Mostly amazing people with great hearts and open mind! Type n. 3 – the one who mainly want to have sex! Yeah, sorry to write that but there are some CS hosts whose main CS intention is to have a sexual contact with a couchsurfer. Lucky me, if there was an intention from the side of my host and I said no, they completely accepted it and didn´t bother me anymore. Type n. 4 – psychopaths! Yeah, it doesn´t sound good but honestly you have to be very careful with selection of your CS host (especially looking at their CS references). Fortunately, nothing happened to me but I have heard some stories which shouldn´t be part of couchsurfing.
So after this short “CS host type division” I would like to emphasize that most of my CS hosts were TYPE n. 1, therefore, I had amazing CS experiences and would like to share more with you.
All of my CS hosts were kind of special, in the way of their thinking, in the way how they wanted to help me, in the way how they live… The countries like COLOMBIA & BRASIL are the countries where I didn´t have to look for any hostel, countries where I stayed all the time with people and hosts from Couchsurfing! And countries where I probably had the best CS experience, though it´ s difficult to decide which one was the best as most of my CS hosts were truly kind, friendly and special. Most of my CS hosts in Colombia always took me to places I didn´t even know they existed (such as Playa Costeno in Caribbean coast with Santiago, the most beautiful village Guatape with Diego, San Vicente Thermal waters in Eje Cafetero with Nico, national park “Las Farallones” with Camilo).
Most of my CS hosts found time to show me around, go for dinners, introduce me to their friends and family, etc … Some of them even prepared me breakfast to bed or give me some gifts just to remember our time together. An amazing example is mom of one of my CS host Nico from Colombia, whose mom was the one who was preparing me breakfast to bed every single day and who gave me good-bye gifts like Colombian coffee when I was leaving. Diego from Medellin and his friends prepared me good-bye traditional dinner. Then, after only a day stay in Colombian Armenia with Fabian, I got a coin from Fabian who received it as a leader of scouts. I received a beautiful poem in a form of Slovak flag by Jose from Lima, an Argentine T-shirt from Wichy and his brother Astor from Buenos Aires, a paper flower from Alex from Rio, a Brazilian signed flag from Bryan from Sao Paulo. I received so MUCH that I don´t know how to express my gratitude…
So what did CS experience give me?! The chance to meet incredibly inspiring people such as Diego from Medellin, Colombia who proved me that people with great hearts still exist, Caleb from Mexico but living in Quito, Ecuador who spent days and hours talking to me about life and its absurdity and chaos, Juan from Banos, Ecuador who not only gave me the opportunity to work in his travel agency but also showed me the beauty of Ecuadorian Amazonia jungle, Jhorge from Ica, Peru who would give me everything I would ever need, Manuel from Cusco, Peru who showed me typical Peruvian hospitality, Leandro from Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina who showed me the most interesting way of CS (by accepting many couchsurfers at the same time), Wichy from Buenos Aires, Argentina who was willing to make my last days in Argentina unforgettable, Conrad from Picarras, Brazil who gave me the best CS accommodation ever, Roger from Ubatuba, Brazil who taught me about “runes reading” and importance of being happy in life or Michel, 70 year old French sailor who is living on a boat in Paraty, Brazil and who was great inspiration for me at least because of his great life stories.
It´s difficult to mention all of them, so many of them, and all of them are special in a certain way. But via this article I would like to express my gratitude to COUCHSURFING generally, to all of my CS hosts who were willing to spend their time with me and who made my solo backpacking travelling through South America UNIQUE and UNFORGETTABLE!
I learned to be flexible and not too demanding (especially regarding the accommodation, most of the time I had to share a room with my CS host, sometimes even bed, sometimes I had to sleep on uncomfortable couches or mattress placed on kitchen floor), I learned a LOT about cultures from the point of the view of local people, I learned to respect people of all cultures not judging their customs and way of thinking, I learned to be more independent, I learned to be brave, simply I LEARNED a LOT thanks to COUCHSURFING!
Muchas gracias y muito obrigada por todo mis amigos, siempre seran en mi mente y corazon y espero verlos muy pronto, si no en LatinoAmerica, pues en ESLOVAQUIA!!!