How I almost didn’t fall in love with Couchsurfing

As a Nicaraguan, you grow up with fear. Fear that your family, your friends, your co-workers and people in general put in your head. Fear of uncertainty, to leave the comfort of your home. Fear of living. I have had the privilege of having an economically stable family in an economically unstable country, but I have also been curious.

My mother told me that when I was born, I was not crying, but that my eyes were wide open; I wanted to see everything. 22 years later, I still want to see everything. I want to read about the history of Papua New Guinea, I want to talk to an evangelical pastor, I want to hitchhike around South America, I want to eat falafel in Egypt; I want to do everything that can be done in a lifetime. And in December of 2014 I made my first “great trip” alone. And I use the quote marks because it was not so big, it was only a month, but for me that was crazy. For me, going to Europe alone with a backpack was absolutely crazy. But it was just the beginning.

While planning some details of the trip, my aunt – with whom I share interests such as traveling – recommended me to try Couchsurfing. I had never heard of that and when I found it, it did not convince me either. I wrote to a couple of people in some cities I was going to visit but I did not receive a response of ten or twelve that I sent. I had given up before trying. But then, when there were only a few days left to go on my trip, I decided to check that webpage again. Now I wrote to about twenty people in Rome in one night; I had to receive at least one response!

And so I did! But almost all of them were negative. Almost everyone either traveling or going to host someone else. I was about to give up once more until Maria, a Russian student from St. Petersburg without any references, with a very empty profile and with only two or three photos, replied to me. It seemed strange to me. I was not excited. I thought they would end up trafficking my organs in some remote country far in the East. But then Maria proposed to have a conversation over Skype before my arrival and I already felt that all this Couchsurfing was a little more real.

The thing is that I went out with my backpack and eventually arrived in Rome. Everything was so … old and full of history. Part of the curiosity I told you about includes a deep interest in universal history, and just walking in Rome is living history. Also, a few years ago I had learned basic Italian and I was dying to practice it. I still remember going into a restaurant (because pizza obviously had to be the first meal I would try in Italy), order in Italian and after I ate it, saying «questa é la migliore pizza che io ho mangiato in tutta la mia vita». That cliché moment felt so well; I felt like I was living a story I had already read or seen in a movie.

Anyway, I agreed to meet Maria at her apartment at 5:00 p.m. I arrived there around 4:30 p.m., more or less. And waited. And it was five o’clock and I was still waiting. And it was almost six and I was still waiting. And it was January and it was getting very cold for my tropical taste. And it was already past six when I decided to go and find a hostel, and it was just when I was turning in the corner of the street where Maria lived when I met her. If I had left fifteen seconds before, I would not have seen her and would never have done Couchsurfing.

The following days with Maria were just great. She was very busy but she managed to find a lot of time to be with me, to take me to places that only the people who live there know. We watched movies, we talked about our countries, we drank wine; all the time we spent together was memorable. I loved the concept of Couchsurfing and I did not want any more hostels, so I did it a few weeks later in Prague and, again, I had an incredible experience.

At the beginning of February I returned to Nicaragua and the first thing I did was to update my profile. Soon after, requests began to arrive and I immediately accepted Robert, the German guy from Dortmund. Again: an incredible experience with a very good person, super fun and full of stories. I clearly remember when we went out and he underestimated Nicaraguan rum and got super wasted.

Three years later, surfers have hosted me around ten times and I have hosted some forty or fifty people and they have all been good people, good experiences – moments I’ll never forget. Just this week were two Spanish sisters and a Czech guy at home. My family loves all the backpackers who stay at my house and I think I have become addicted to Couchsurfing. I can’t always travel, but to know these people who bring so many positive energies, who are full of adventures, who are curious, it’s almost like traveling from my house.

This post was written by a member of the Couchsurfing community. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or opinion of Couchsurfing.

To share your own story, visit our Community Stories page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

%d bloggers like this: