Tag Archives: couchsurfing

Porto House-Sitting Begins

1 Aug

My house sitting assignment has finally begun proper. The little dog-rat has been taken by one of the owner’s friends, which leaves me with the job of looking after just Neil the Alsatian and the plants, both pictured here:


Yesterday was my first day of watering the plants. It took about 2 hours. I think this is going to have to improve slightly. Problem is that it’s just too hot here, everything needs a lot of water every day just to survive.

One of the great things about staying at this place is the room I’m staying. It was originally the cinema room but they’ve taken the projector away – I can only presume they think I’ll destroy it with my fat hands. Still, it’s probably the biggest room I’ve ever stayed in and happens to be pretty damn blissful in the evening when I can get the balcony open, as per this here picture:


Now I just want one more picture of Neil, a dog that is so unbelievably friendly that when you get near him he jumps on you, smashing your ribs with his huge paws while pretending to bite your hands. I can probably understand why some people are a bit scared of him. He is really though one of the softest dogs I’ve come across.


When Couchsurfing does not seem like the best idea in the world

28 Dec

I think I am going to have to find another home! The Dutch guy has gone too far now. I just arrived back at the house after a date to find Ulysses alone here at the house. I had bought a carton of apple juice which I had just opened. I plonked it down on the table and the next thing I heard was “is it okay if I finish off the apple juice, there’s only a little left anyway?” The bastard drank the whole thing. Then he talked a load of shit for about half an hour which I really can’t remember, something about maps. Then he asked me about the date and realised he’d met the girl at the xmas eve and was quite happy to tell me that the girl was not even good-looking and so maybe it was just nice for me to go on a date with anyone. I thought she was one of the better looking girls there. Then he popped into the kitchen and walked out with all the food I’d bought and cooked last night on his plate and started piling it into his face, without even thinking of asking me if it’s okay to finish this one off. All this after just 2 hours sleep and I really think this is going to have to motor me onto another couch. Plus, he left the water pump on and now there is water pouring through the ceiling. Although I think this is more of a structural problem and don’t want to blame him too much for this one!

Chalk this one up (Couchsurfing gone wrong)

16 Nov

Well I guess it was bound to happen sometime. I fell out with a couchsurfer. In fact, he kicked me out! A little bit drastic if you ask me but he was a military man, a man of discipline, and he wasn’t taking no prisoners.

I think he had it in for me from the start, asking me if I knew what happened in 1982 and how he’d worked for the Navy at that time, and how since then he’s had something of a special relationship with the English. I don’t know if that’s ever the way you should start the conversation. He kept referring to me as just a kid and how it’s crazy that kids can just go on holiday for a year willy-nilly, without ever really asking me if I was just on vacations or how old I am or anything, so I wasn’t too surprised when he asked me to leave.

I had decided to climb to the top of the nearby glacier. A 5km walk to the top of the hill followed by a 1000km vertical ascent. In my canvas shoes with holes in the soles it wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made, especially since it had been snowing for the past 12 days. About halfway up I realised I had a plastic bag in my backpack and so could stop at least one of my feet from freezing to death, the other unfortunately was going to have to suffer. I didn’t make it to the top, probably about 100m off. The snow was getting too deep and I was started to slip more than ever so decided to call it quits before the summit. Nice walk though.

As soon as I stepped off the snow and onto land a Frenchman drove past and offered me a lift, straight to the door of my couchsurfer. Luis was sleeping so I quickly popped upstairs, grabbed my laptop and headed out again. I wanted to try and make a couple of phone calls to England before night-time across the atlantic seeped in a little too much. As it was, all the cafes in town have useless WiFi that I couldn’t use so spent around an hour or so jumping from one to another before I finally found a connection in a pub on the main road. It was too late to make any calls now but I had quite a lot of work. After a couple of hours of work, with a hamburger break in the middle I headed back to the house. It must have been about 1am before I got back to see Luis sitting in his armchair through the window. He wasn’t happy. He told me to go to sleep and we would discuss it in the morning. In the morning he woke me up by saying “can you please pack your bags and I will take you into the town center?” And that was it. If you ask me he should have just gone to bed instead of waiting up and getting angry, but hey I think maybe he wanted to make a point of something.

It has been a lot harder to find couchsurfers in Patagonia, and this has meant me asking some people I wouldn’t normally, Luis being one of them. I guess it’s just not possible to get on with everyone!


1 Nov

How did this happen? How did I manage to get an all expenses paid trip to Buenos Aires for the weekend? I really have no idea, but feel quite like a responsible gent, with you know, all that responsibility of that, of having had meals paid for and accommodation for free, which means that eventually I will have to give something in return.

As soon as the idea was mooted, let´s meet in Buenos Aires I knew there was going to be some joy in it. I was told I would have my journey to BA paid for and my accommodation. Meals weren´t mentioned but they were easily part of the deal. I even had dessert on one occasion, my first dessert since I don´t know what, it had been a long time.

Now I am heading south to explore Patagonia. I have arrived at a couchsurfer´s in a little town called Choele Choel. Yesterday I was in Bahia Blanca where I had to stay in a hotel because the only hostel was full and then ended up going out for every meal (partly because I had no kitchen and partly because I was so tired for my journey that my body was constantly crying out for nourishment) and spending far too much money. The next day, after being secure of having a place to stay in Choele Choel I decided not to eat anything til I get there. Some kind of method of balancing the books. Despite feeling a bit faint on the bus all was good and worked out better than could have been imagined. My hosts drove me around the town to see the sights (really just a bunch of fields and a river, but enjoyable nonetheless) before planting a plate of sweets in front of me, filling up the matte, washing all my clothes, cracking open a few beers, a decent bottle of wine from Patagonia and finally home-made Milanesas. Things really couldn´t be any better!

Take me to the river

30 Oct

I think I have just had my best ‘going to the shops’ experience. I spent the last few days in Tigre, a short one-hour journey from Buenos Aires. It’s a delta, and to be honest I never really understood what one of those was, until now anyway, because i know that deltas are amazing. I managed to find a couchsurfing living there, Paola, who lives in a beautiful little shack by the river. It’s actually been a couple of days since I left Tigre now because all I did each day was canoe down the river in the sun, and it took me quite a while to recover.

rowing down the delta

When I arrived there the water was quite low and we had to go super-speed on the boat to get it over the mud and up onto the bank. It remained at this level when I went out on the canoe but when I returned the bank was no longer visible, the water had shot right up to the foundations of the house. It’s a crazy environment, and one which makes the delta really special. On my second day we built a fire to get rid of all the wood that Paola had chopped down. Still with a load of wood remaining to be burnt, the water had managed to rise underneath the fire, so that it was no longer burning on earth, but on water. Unfortunately this was the moment Bonzo (currently my favourite dog in the world) showed up with a dead cat he had found in the river. He thought this cat was hilarious and was throwing it around the garden like an epileptic bull would throw off its rider. We decided to put it on the fire, unfortunately just at the point when the fire was about to stop. In a desperate attempt to rekindle it we slapped a load of leaves and twigs on top offering it a brief respite. I like to think it did the job although I didn’t check in the morning. Nobody wants to see a dead cat before lunchtime.

paola and the fire

With the river at its highest I set off to buy bread and some provisions. Two hours later, wearing sopping-wet clothes I returned remembering to buy some food for dinner but not the bread, which was the only thing I was really supposed to buy. There’s nothing quite like rowing down the river, tieing up your boat and popping into the shops. In this case I had to do it a lot of times as every shop I could find was closed. Something about it being Monday and Argentines not being bothered to do anything on a Monday.

And to finish, a photo of Bonzo!
Bonzo, only just about the best dog ever!

How not to write a subject heading article wotsit?

24 Oct

It has proved extremely hard to find a Couchsurfing host in Rosario. I have spent most of the week in hostels, busy firing off messages to various members in search of a possibility and going to Couchsurfing events around town. At every event they have looked at me in amazement as I told them it was impossible to find a couch yet at the same time declaring that they unfortunately have no room aswell. My brain was constantly trying to think of a spanish equivalent of ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ It is still working on it.

Eventually I found Mauricio and am staying at his this weekend. I don’t know if its because I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in hostels lately or something but it seems I am becoming a huge silent judge, slowly picking out people’s faults. Mauricio has a bad back but has so far spent the entire day on his computer, using Messenger and sending e-mails (he’s been at it remarkably from 11am to 7pm). The weather has been glorious so I’ve been out a few times, each time returning to refuel and look curiously as Mauricio continues grasping his back with one hand and typing with the other. He also committed the cardinal sin of throwing away food. I made what I’d have to describe as a pretty incredible ‘Cream of Chorizo, Garlic and Pepper Pasta’ dish last night, with plenty left over for lunch today. When my empty belly reminded me of this fact in the morning I ran into the kitchen only to find it deserted in the bin. What kind of person would do this? This is the question that constantly runs through my head.

This together with my recent trend of talking to myself as I walk the streets are beginning to draw a conclusion I didn’t want to see. I think I have ‘traveller’s disease,’ a condition brought about by spending far too much time with oneself, constantly with a million questions in your head (How many hours does it take to get to Buenos Aires? What is the name of that strange pastry covered in white stuff? How do I say ‘fair’s enough’ in spanish? What time is it?, and so on.) but no-one to share them with. It’s remarkable it’s taken this long to happen actually, I thought it would have at least kicked in on those 16-hour buses through Brazil. If anyone knows any remedies, please let me know!