Name: Maski Haile
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
From: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
One amazing thing she’s done: Backpacked from Cape Town to Cairo using public transport, hitchhiking, and Couchsurfing for nine months
Current Mission: Finishing her book
“As much as I love traveling and meeting new people, there is nothing that warms my heart and makes my soul dance like reconnecting with old friends.”
Maski has just returned to Montreal after six years of working, living, traveling and giving back to communities around Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Now that she’s back in Canada she is working on her travel memoir, retelling her stories collected over many years of travel.
For years, Maski had been traveling, staying with strangers, befriending travelers and inviting them to crash at her home. But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about Couchsurfing.
“My then boyfriend had seen an article in one of the English newspapers in Montreal. He came to me and said, ‘This is YOU. Read it’. I read the article and immediately signed up. A few days later I donated some of my things and embarked on one year of travel around the world which turned into five years of bliss.”
Her discovery of Couchsurfing gave Maski a community and also a name for something she had been doing for years. For that she is grateful.
What follows is a glimpse into Maski’s life and her experiences with Couchsurfing thus far.
Is there a Couchsurfing member that stands out to you? Why?
That is very hard to answer. I have over 300 Couchsurfing friends on my profile, surfed more than 80 couches around the world and I’ve hosted 60+ surfers. Most of my CS friends today are my best friends.
That being said, I can share a story where I witnessed one person’s amazing journey into creating and sustaining a community single-handedly. That person is my friend Riana. At our first meeting, it was just me and her. Our second meeting was an official CS meeting and there were only four of us that showed up. By the time I left South Africa, Riana had created a huge community in Pretoria and Jo’burg. The regular meetings usually have 20+ locals and travelers.
Riana single-handedly sent out emails to travelers to welcome them every day. She offered assistance whenever any locals or travelers needed it, hosted, organized events, cooked, drove people around, gave advice and treated each and every one of us as her long lost family members with so much joy, kindness, and love. She’s one of the most incredible and inspiring Couchsurfers who has touched my heart in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
What advice do you have for new members to Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing is more than free accommodation for travelers. Couchsurfing is a community built on trust. Please don’t take Couchsurfing for granted, don’t take your host for granted, and also please be responsible travelers. Sometimes it only takes one experience to ruin years of built trust. Remember we only receive as much as we give.
How has Couchsurfing changed your perspective on life?
Couchsurfing made my biggest dream come true which is traveling the world while connecting with people. Couchsurfing allowed me to trust more, be bold and never underestimate the power of sharing and giving. We are all the same; deep inside we seek the same thing.
Kindness/generosity is the currency that will take us a long way.
What’s next for you?
Right now my biggest mission is finishing my Travel Memoir and publishing it.
You can read more about Maski’s journey and get a sneak peak of her upcoming book at www.abyssiniannomad.com