Over the past two years, we have had our fair share of house guests. I chalk it up to the fact that our U.S. friends view us as whackos and want to see if we finally have taken that high dive into a shallow pool. Others are intrigued by our location: Ecuador, but not the Galapagos. And then there are the ones who figure that we haven't died after two years, so it might be worth checking out where we have landed. Whatever the reason, we enjoy having the visitors because we miss our friends.
While this is all very entertaining, and we have enjoyed turning our friends into mules for items we cannot get here in Ecuador, it doesn't happen often enough. (Thank you Pamela, Allison & Fred, and Elizabeth, especially.) And our work and the day-to-day bits and pieces of life sometimes makes us feel stale.
|Domes of the New Cathedral in Cuenca, Ecuador|
Photo by Alex Proimos
When this happens, I go to our Couchsurfing page and flick the little button that says "Open for Company." For those new to the concept, Couchsurfing.org is a community of over 7 million people in over 100,000 cities who share their lives with others. The organization connects travelers with hosts throughout the world and makes travel a truly social experience. Most Surfers are under 30, but we have had visitors of all ages and from many different countries. It also allows us to have a dose of internationalism without leaving our own home. Pretty sweet.
Because I traveled alone for business and pleasure, I know that traveling as a woman has its problems. Being conscious of that, K. W. and I prefer to host women travelers. It gives them a safe place to stay and the girls tend to fit into the household easier than couples. The young women often take our photos so they can send them home to mom and dad, as if to say, "Look. We are staying with nice people." Never thought I would be such a shining example of safety and stability. I take it as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
We have had visitors from Switzerland, Germany, Holland, the U.S., Colombia, and Australia, We enjoyed all of our visitors, but the couple from Colombia was the biggest surprise. Susana and Diego are both writers and journalists and asked to stay with us because of mutual interests. We broke our "girls only" policy and agreed — it's always fun to compare notes, especially with writers from completely different cultures.
|Cajas National Park, Ecuador|
Photo by Jon Clark
This time, though, it turned out to be more than the usual quick visit. The four of us hit it off big time — as if we had known each other for years. Diego is a musician, as well as a journalist, and traveled here with his harmonica. So K. W. called up our friend Mark, who came by to hang out and do a bit of jamming. I inexpertly recorded part of the mini-session on my iPad.
Check it out on YouTube: CouchSurfing Jam.And that is pretty much how their time with us went. We now have an invitation to visit Medellin, a city high on our must-see list. And this week, Susana's mother will be coming to Cuenca to visit other friends. We are really looking forward to meeting her.
While most of our Surfers have come through the Couchsurfing site, occasionally we will be contacted because a friend has told them that they had fun staying with us. And, of course, we have had invitations to contact our Surfers if we ever get to their countries.
Later this year, we are planning a trip to Europe and the U.K. There will be some gaps between our hotels, and I am hoping to fill in with our own Couchsurfing experiences. Should be fun.
A lot of people have wonderful structured themes for this challenge. Me, I'm going with Random Girl. Hey, my life doesn't have a theme, so why should my blog?
And make sure you check out Blogging from A to Z . There are over 2,000 participants in this years's challenge. Whatever your particular enthusiasm, you are sure to find something to pique your interest.
For more information, follow the A to Z Facebook page or go to @AprilA2Z on Twitter and give them a Follow.