Featured Ambassador: Liana from Bend, Oregon

 

“‘Less Vanity, More Planety.’ I made that up several years ago. What it means to me is that people should care less about the stuff they own and how they look, and more about the other people on earth and taking care of the planet.”

 

 

Liana lives in Bend with her husband and teenage daughter. This family of three has hosted everyone from filmmakers and actors to hikers and cyclists– and have the filled guest book to prove it! Straight from Liana’s Couchsurfing profile, she provides us with a perfect description of her fun-loving family:

“Liana is the cook, the logistical planner, and the frugal shopper. Peter referees bike races, heads the family Public Relations department, and is the man-about-town in a suit usually on a bike. Their daughter is a high school student who reads, acts, paints, and geeks out on retro 80’s fashion and technology. As a family they excel at snarky banter. Be prepared with your own snappy comebacks!”

Couchsurfing in Austria. Liana: far right, Peter: second from left and their daughter: second from the right.

Hosting with a child has definitely put an interesting spin on things for Liana’s family and Liana says that she truly enjoys observing interactions between Couchsurfers and her daughter.

“I find it fascinating to see which surfers truly resonate with our daughter.  She is a teenager now so the exterior can be a little rough, but some surfers go the extra mile to engage her, ask her about her life, make her laugh, and she warms to them. One of our other goals was for her to see/meet women traveling by themselves in the world. That, I’m sure, will have an effect on her which we may not appreciate until many years from now.”

Liana and her family got involved in Couchsurfing after a trip to the UK in 2012 where they did not Couchsurf. “We expected to meet people in pubs and have them invite us over to their homes, but nothing like that happened.” They stayed in hotels, B&Bs, and although lovely, they did not find those personal connections they had been craving. After returning home to Oregon they started hosting straight away.

“I have come to believe that most people are universally interested in others, curious about different lifestyles, and want to share with/learn from each other. I felt that way before to some extent, but didn’t have examples to back it up.”

Couchsurfing in Slovenia

Since then, they have hosted over 200 surfers with whom they have shared many memorable moments along the way. Going out for drinks and dinner with surfers, introducing some Slovakians to their first s’mores over at a neighbor’s bonfire, and staying with a family in Europe that they had previously hosted in Bend are just a few highlights. Liana especially loves when Couchsurfers cook for the family. Understanding how intimidating it can be to use your host’s kitchen, she is always very impressed and grateful when a guest prepares a meal for them.

“One woman brought a complete meal from her farm, including a rabbit, canned vegetables, and homemade grape juice. One gentleman made us stuffed green bell peppers and butter-beans from a recipe he carried in a notebook. Another recent surfer from India made us egg curry and gave me some curry powder.”

Liana, who helped organize the 2014 Bend Couch Crash, was excited to get involved in this year’s event. Since Bend was only a short distance from the prime viewing point of the 2017 solar eclipse, they decided to host the Couch Crash the weekend immediately prior to the eclipse which took place on Monday, August 21, 2017. The eclipse was a perfect ending to an already fantastic weekend.

“The Couch Crash was, by all accounts, a great success. It was a perfect blend of local hosts and visiting surfers, prior Bend Couch Crash 2014 (and ConnectiCOUCH 2016) attendees as well as new faces, experienced surfers/hosts, recently added members, and even a couple CS employees! Even though we were nervous about the number of people swarming into Central Oregon for the eclipse, we encountered no traffic and no crowds, and were able to do everything we planned”

Brewery tours, floating the Deschutes river, lava cave tour, cruiser bike ride, lake/mountain hikes, Sunday brunch and nights out on the town were just a few of the things that Liana and the other organizers had planned for the weekend. On the morning of the eclipse, the group departed Bend around 6:30 am and were the first ones to arrive at Centennial Park in Redmond. There they waited and experienced 47 seconds of total darkness which was a truly special way to end the weekend.

Getting ready for the eclipse in Centennial Park, Redmond, Oregon.

Along with her involvement with Couch Crash, Liana lends her time in many other ways in order to spread the word about Couchsurfing.

“I love attending monthly meetups, and I encourage other local CS members to join us each month by sending them personal invitations and messages.”

The monthly meetups are held at a different restaurant, pub, or member’s house each time, which has resulted in many new friendships with other members of the community. They bring a homemade Couchsurfing flag and take a group photo with it at each meetup. Liana and Peter have also been known to scout out REI looking for people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail who might need a place to stay, keeping the spirit of Couchsurfing alive.

New to Couchsurfing? Liana’s got your back:

“Take time to set up a profile that really says something about yourself, and what is unique about you. Upload many photos that show you in various aspects of your life (i.e. with friends, family, pets). Link your profile to other websites where you have a public profile if you don’t have any references yet. Have friends on CS write personal references about you. Go to meetups and meet other members in your area to hear real-life experiences.”

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