I’ve been travelling the world for 20 years and been Couchsurfing since 2008, having been in various interesting countries from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to Hungary and Slovakia- Kenya to Coasta Rica, French Guiana to Malaysia. I’ve slept in everything from a king-size bed in Israel to a mat on the floor in Japan, to a swinging hammock in a shed in French Guiana and more! Probably not too different from many other Couchsurfers, exceot for one major difference – I’m totally blind and severely deaf! Yes, I travel alone and backpack solo, using public transportation and the kindness of strangers like fellow Couchsurfers to help me along. I’ve Couchsurfed in 27 countries out of my 125 nations visited and have had mostly fantastic experiences. Apart from an unfortunate situation in Zanzibar where my host was unable to host me and a few other experiences where I wasn’t able to spend time with my hosts, I’ve had excellent and wonderful CS experiences. It is the ultimate way to travel and meet local people and gain friends and learn about a country’s and people’s culture.
My most recent adventure took me to the Middle East, from October to December 2017. I met up with a couple of interesting CS hosts in Amman, the capital of Jordan, and was taken to lunch/dinner to try the local fair, chicken and rice, pita bread and yogurt sauce (delicious!), followed by falafel, chip pea balls, swallowed down with very sweet tea! I stayed with a lovely doctor in Madaba, another Jordanian small city near the international airport and my host Ashraf kindly drove me up Mount Nebo, for views of the ‘holey land’ before taking me back to the city and the historical St George Church with its mosaics.
In Israel, I was hosted by several fantastic people, most notably Yuval in Beersheba, in the south of the country. Yuval wandered around one of the old Tels ‘hill cities’ with me early one morning and we discovered the ancient water system together. Likewise, wonderful Ilian cared for me splendidly over three days in peaceful Mitzpe Ramon, atop the dramatic Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert.
I had interesting times in Jerusalem, first getting hopelessly lost with my German host Julian, a kind guy who’s volunteering for a year, caring for elderly disabled people. He tried to encourage me to become a vegan, but it didn’t work! Then I was hosted by an elderly, Jewish, American couple, who’ve been living in Israel since the mid 1970s. Naf, aged roughly 70, liked to reminisce about Jerusalem’s ancient history, insisting he knew the real story behind this or that religious historic event! He would pour himself a shot of Arak, a Middle East spirit, before taking me to feel bullet holes in interesting buildings and let me tough fascinating parts of various synagogues, walls, pillars, doors and stones. As a blind traveller, being able to feel the structures and architecture of buildings is an important part of my travels and explorations.
When staying with Khader, a native of Bethlehem, Palestinian Territory, I was treated to a wonderful experience of floating in the Dead Sea and having mud rubbed all over my body – a wonderful sensation for any blind person! Floating on the warm still water was most relaxing ?. It was thanks to my host who, drove me and another guest there, that I was able to have such a wonderful experience.
This is what travelling and Couchsurfing for me is all about, as demonstrated in the documentary I made in Bethlehem, which shows my CS host, Adam, and I meeting on my first night in the city.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, to every continent, all 50 States of the US, every Canadian Province, all the countries of Europe and South America. I’ve done it independently, despite being totally blind and severely deaf, but I couldn’t have done this without the kindness and the generosity of local people and couchsurfers.
You can read more about my adventures in my travel Ebooks: Seeing The World My Way, which follows me through nights of drinking in New Orleans and California to sky diving in Australia and bungee jumping and driving jetboats in New Zealand.
My second Ebook: Seeing The Americas My Way, 2016, describes adventures of a more soba nature. It explores the beaches and cuisine of Brazil, the nightclubs and nature of Argentina and the isolated, spectacular scenery of Chile, before heading north to tackle the huge land masses of the central parts of the US and Canada, as well as climbing ancient piramids in Mexico City and solsa dancing in Cuba, plus much more.
You can read more about my wanderings and find details about my unique travels and Ebooks on my website.
Hope you like this blog, happy reading and happy couchsurfing, Tony the Traveller ?.