My first hosting experience was, probably, also the best I can recall.
At that time, I used to live in Melbourne in a lovely apartment with an extra bedroom and bathroom for guests. As I had great respect for those young world travellers ending up in Australia after months spent in other continents, engaging up to a whole year abroad in hostels. I thought they truly deserved to be pampered and well treated in my apartment so that they can recharge their batteries before engaging the next leg of their trip.
As soon as I opened my account with Couchsurfing, Imke from Germany wrote me a nice message, requesting a few days at my place. You see, she was exactly that kind of traveller I wanted to support. She was 19 years old from Germany, already on the road alone for 8 months, coming from Central America and looking for a job in Australia for financing the Indonesian leg of her trip.
We got together very well, she was kind and grateful for everything she was getting at my place. We spent hours talking about our trips, had few visits around the city and enjoyed cooking together. Especially this part contributed to cementing our friendship. I cooked some good Italian recipes, in return, she prepared tasty food she learned in Central America. She also knew how much I appreciate the simplicity of cooking as social bonding, the good feeling it transmits through the senses.
One morning I woke up with a strong positive feeling. In fact, I woke up smelling something good, releasing old memories of Sunday lunches and grandma’s cooking. And my brain suddenly got it. I was smelling bread, freshly made bread. Excited, I walked to the kitchen and found a smiling Imke with flour everywhere, in her hairs, on their hand up to her shoulders, proudly showing me some bread leaves that she just took out of the hoven.
That was her gift for the room I gave her. But in fact, she gave me far more than I expected. And now, more than 8 years after that trip, we are still good pen friends, sometimes remember the good time we had back in Melbourne.