Okay, so I do feel a little bit guilty, relying on people’s hospitality, but what can I do? They’re just so damn hospitable! I have this all to blame on a German with smelly feet I met in Ecuador. He told me about a website called Couchsurfing where you can easily stay with local people wherever you go, who will host you, feed you, show you the town, and never ask for one penny. I was sceptical at first. Now I am evangelical!
Now to me the idea of Couchsurfing is great. Someone has a spare couch, or floor. They want to meet people and show them around their city. On the other hand travellers are always looking for a cheap place to stay, me included. The major revelation for me though has been the amount of trust that has been shown. I am currently in Brazil and have so far stayed on 3 couches. Every single person has given me the keys to their house, told me to treat it like home, feel free to eat any food, etc., etc. I could go on. Yet they’ve only just me. Okay, I have a profile on the website with a few jokes and a little bit about myself, but it’s not much to go on. This isn’t to say I am complaining, more I am praising the amount of trust that people are willing to endow on stranger. It’s a beautiful thing.
I also have not had to buy a meal while I’ve been staying with anyone. The only time I have was shortly before meeting a new host, who then took me to his house and placed a mountain of food in front of me, informing me that I should eat everything as otherwise it will just go to waste. Safe to say I slept with a slight sweat on that night. During these meals I have had the chance to try some of the staple local foods, ask about what foods I should try when I go out and also learnt the names of all the dishes and ingredients. As a traveller whose days revolve around food, this instant knowledge is something of a god send.