How to make friends from all over the planet without leaving your couch
As a single mother living by myself pretty much since my daughter was born, I’m always up to be around more people and make new friends.
When I first heard of CouchSurfing, I knew I had to participate. I was already doing it in an informal way. Since I live in a paradise town, my friends from the city eventually send someone to stay in my house.
But CouchSurfing opened the opportunity for us (Luísa and I) to know a lot of people from other countries and cultures without having to hang out anywhere other than our very house.
The idea is brilliant: people host travelers and get to stay for free with locals just for the fun of it.
For one thing, I wanted Luísa to be around more people. It´s great to have guests in the house to play and entertain her other than myself. We have the chance to speak or at least listen to other languages and meet really unconventional people.
If you meet any couchsurfer or browse through some profiles, it´s easy to find them saying that: “It changed my life”. As it really does, only after having a few extraordinary experiences you know the way you make new friends have changed for good.
Making my single child share more
I often gave Luísa´s room for the couchsurfers to stay. In the beginning, she wasn´t the best at landing her room, but after a few experiences, when I said we would receive friends, she would ask right away: “And are they staying in my room?” “Yes”. “Ok”. Sweet deal.
In the mornings, she likes to wake up the couchsurfers. They are quite nice about it since they usually want to get up early anyway to go to the beach.
The couchsurfers always have something to offer, being the most usual gift, their friendly presence, sharing their stories and playing non stop with Luísa.
Some of our experiences include:
A Brazilian guy who installed this awesome software on my laptop for watching the stars and gave me a short Astronomy class.
A British couple who cooked for us an amazing Curry (that we’ve never tried before).
A German who made us pizza. He also happened to study children behavior, made animals with balloons and we played guitar together. How else can you meet such an unconventional dude?
An Argentinian ended up living with us for over a month, helping by cooking lunch almost everyday and truly becoming part of the family.
We had fun making music with a group that was here once: the Argentinian, one French girl and a Brazilian couple, you can get a feel of the atmosphere on this video they put on the you tube. I never filmed myself before and this is a great gift for us to watch in the future (cute mommy and daughter dancing together).
I took some guests to surf and they looked after Luísa for me to surf (the best gift a single-surfer mom can receive, by the way).
I listened to their different music instead of the same old stuff I have in my computer for ages.
We talked or heard different languages in the house, we spoke a bit of some cultural habits we have home, we exchanged some “off the market” information about sustainable living, permaculture and alternative ways to live in general. For one reason or another, these couchsurfing folks tend to have a foot into the green living.
Our time hosting has to stop for now. We are on our way to Costa Rica (currently in Sao Paulo) and now it´s our time to surf other couches. We are staying with a family of unschoolers in San Jose when we first arrive. From there I´ll try to keep couchsurfing in the beach towns we will be going to, until we find the perfect town to settle down for a while.
CouchSurfing with families
It took me a while to discover the Family Group at the CouchSurfing site.
Now I can search for couches that might come with a playmate for Luísa. I already contacted a few families in Costa Rica to know about the schools, how much the cost of living is and every doubt about the local living I have, I run to the forums to ask.
There are also meetings in the cities for the people to simply get together. No one has to be hosting or couchsurfing necessarily to be part of the community. Some people are available for having a coffee and a chat somewhere, just to help the travelers out with information.
I met some really awesome friends through CouchSurfing. If this is new to you, you might want to check the simple guide for beginners in CouchSurfing that Karol wrote.