Thursday, January 22, 2009

Couchsurfing in La Fortuna

D’Angelo and myself are proud to say we’ve been hosting couchsurfers here in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, in our ‘tiny-tiny’ apartment since October of ‘07. I said ‘tiny’ right?

I’m sure many of you have heard about it, but if not, couchsurfing is basically where people ask, via the internet, if they can ‘crash’ on your ‘couch’ while they are visiting your area- where ever it may be. But know- couchsurfing is World Wide. I would highly recommend signing up to, especially if you like to meet interesting people from literally all over the WORLD. *Couchsurfing is NOT a ‘hook-up’ site, so don’t even THINK about it...hehe

Of course you don’t charge them anything.

Here’s the official mission statement:

CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!

It’s pretty much like any other social site on the internet, profile page, all the regular details, but this site has many ‘checks and balances’ to ensure safety for the traveler as well as the host. And obviously a ‘host’ can ALWAYS say NO. It’s funny, many of our friends’ say, “I can’t believe you guys let total strangers stay in your house.” I can tell you, ‘these strangers’ usually end up being pretty good friends and numerous times we have just left them the keys- TRUST has never been a concern. (We’ve had approximately 50 people stay with us as of this writing). And of course, you can do as little or as much as you want. Some, we cook dinner (or they do), hang-out and maybe invite are other friends over for a little party, others are busy doing daily adventures around La Fortuna and we may only see them in the evening, and still other times they just want to meet up for drinks and don’t even stay at our place. It’s ALL good.

We’ve had people from Japan, Poland, Italy, Amsterdam, Canada, Israel, Colombia, Bulgaria, as well as the United States, to name only a few of the countries. And since we all usually take a liking to each other, they invite US to stay at their place if were ever in their area.

Conversations can be EXTREMELY interesting to say the least, especially when drinking is involved, which it normally is, so it’s great to learn other peoples’ opinions and perspectives on things- ALWAYS an education. Be forewarned- get into political and/or religious conversations, be ready for some dissent.

Couchsurfers always appreciate any insight or helpful information you can give them while they’re exploring your area- places to go, or not to go, fun things to do, where to eat, or things they don’t mention in the travel books etc. It feels great to help out, and it also ensures a more memorable experience for ALL.

We’ve usually hosted, but did couchsurf once when we visited New York City. We had our own room (5 nights) and these guys actually made 4-course meals every night- wine included AND stimulating conversation. What a great couchsurfing experience.

I should say, from time to time, we have said ‘NO’. Sometimes we think it may not be a good personality match, or the person comes across as if they merely want to ‘freeload’. But that’s the beautiful thing, you can do whatever you want, you’re not committed or obligated in anyway.

Sometimes, humanity really saddens me the way we often treat each other, but the couchsurfing concept helps restore a little of my faith in people. Helping others, bridging the gap, making connections, exchanging ideas…………..actually, re-read the Couchsurfing Mission Statement, they say it much better.

So, if you think you can spare the room,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,consider it. It’s so worth IT and you will be re-warded SEVERAL times OVER- in ways you can’t imagine. I’m not usually this ‘sappy’, and it may sound like I’m over doin it a bit…………Trust me, consider Couchsurfing.

Except for liking the couchsurfing concept and being a member, I have no other reason or motivation for promoting couchsurfing.

As always, view hundreds of videos about Costa Rica at the Costa Rica Travel Channel and for all your Costa Rica Travel Information visit our other website Travel Costa Rica Now