Friday, May 30, 2008

A few more notes on Couchsurfing

The weekend rolls around but I still have some work that needs finishing for Monday. A few hours in a cafe tomorrow should do the trick.

Over the last few weeks, Couchsurfing has become a pretty big thing in my life, hosting as much as I can, and managing, I believe, to make it interfere very little with my work life. In the last few weeks I've hosted: Two Brazilians, two Latvians, eight Americans, an Israeli, a Spaniard, two Italians, an Austrian, a Czech, a Pole, three Germans, a Parisian, an Estonian, an Aussie, and a Brit (not including my family). And it's been fantastic.

If I'm busy with work I can leave them to do what they want, but coming home to chat with people from all around the world, to cook together, to go for a drink and to discover life from every corner of the Earth is just a fantastic thing to be able to do.

In fact I'm writing this spurred on by the last couchsurfer who came to stay (not including the three here at the moment). Kurt is originally from Germany, and arrived on his Harley Davidson having ridden from Portugal. I've never met anyone with so many stories and so much experience and chatting with Kurt in the evenings was eye opening and on frequent occasions jaw-dropping. A chef by training, this career has seen Kurt everywhere from Iran where he cooked for some time for the Shah, to oil rigs in the arctic circle, to the Munich Olympics, all the way up Everest where he was part of the 1982 Canadian expedition, Japan, all around South, Central and North America, India and Hong Kong to name but a few. He's hoping to make it down to Antarctica when he heads back to South America this summer as this is one of the few places he hasn't yet visited!

In fact what was particularly pleasing with Kurt, was that not only was I able to give him a place to stay for a few nights, but I tracked down some of his long lost friends using the power of Google. Within a few minutes we'd found two of his closest friends from the Everest expedition with whom he'd lost contact many years ago, and discovered that his best buddy from years of sailing around South and Central America was a real estate agent in the States where we were able to send a quick e-mail and rekindle the friendship. I really hope that he's able to revisit some of the amazing experiences with the people he was with at the time.

Kurt is currently couchsurfing around Europe and if by any chance he's in your neck of the woods I seriously suggest heading for a few drinks with him, or invite him into your house and cook a meal together.

I could write up a post about every couchsurfer who came to stay, the diversity of people coming to Santiago is pretty startling and I get to meet people from all walks of life, however, doing so would leave too little time to actually do stuff myself. I suggest you sign up yourself and get in the game of unconditional help. The more hosts the better!

Anyway, I just wanted to add a few more positive notes on Couchsurfing which I believe always needs more publicity. Currently I'm housing three pilgrims from the States who have just walked the Camino (one for two weeks and two for the last month). We're about to cook together, after which I will finish some work before we all head out for a drink.

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