Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Darwin Couchsurfing Community.

As the self-proclaimed unofficial ambassador of Darwin’s couchsurfing group I have become the organisers of our monthly meet-ups and in general attempt to kick-start the group. Our previous ambassador it appears doesn’t even live in Darwin anymore.
I recently acquired a deal with Duck’s Nuts establishment to get discount beverages & free snacks. So Sunday the 23rd we had a meet-up and I was blown away by the attendance. I guess the whole cheaper drinks thing doesn’t help. A heap of hosts came out of the woodwork who had never been to a Darwin event bringing the total including surfers up to about 40 people. I never did a final count. I drank to many beers and ended up chatting excitedly to whoever was in earshot of me.

My friend Glen ( bluewater fishing back in October) was there which was a surprise since I hadn’t seen him in ages and he is a hard person to get a hold of. He is off to South America in a month and was telling me all about the trip. I found it funny he is staying in this expensive hotel that releases oxygen into the air over a period of time to get them climatised to the height of Maachu Piichu. So I just started laughing, Heather and I did the climb the hard way and consumed copious amounts of coco leaves to get through it :D 50km of hiking through sweaty jungle, the blisters, aching legs, the almost dying when some people threw planks of wood down the trail barely missing us, the lack of water, extreme temperatures from freezing to sweating like crazy, the horrible bathrooms. Wait ..why was I laughing at HIM again.

I never couch-surfed in South America. I say its because I never knew where I was going to be until a day before but reality is I was a little tentative for safety reasons. Here I am the woman who drove across the USA by myself and stayed with countless strangers and I was worried about my safety. Honestly its bullshit and now I wish I’d made more of an effort. I preach about how Couchsurfing is safer then hostels a lot of the time and I let a few misconceptions about South America get the better of me. I did meet up with one guy, we went out Dancing in Arequipa, Peru. He hit on me after about an hour. The scariest thing about the whole night was how much shorter he was then me.

I have heard the most amazing stories about people travelling through South America from surfing it makes me wish I’d tried it out. Next time for sure! I still have a few countries to cross off the list.

Its also funny to see the different kinds of hosts in Darwin. You notice the more experienced ones stipulate more and more rules whilst others will bend over backwards for their surfers and get quickly taken advantage of. Darwin is such a popular town to the young backpackers and can get quite expensive in our main holiday season. So many of my surfers were at some point just camping in the bushes packing up every morning so as not to get fined. Not that they would pay anyway 
So being such a popular town to young backpackers you get the very inexperienced surfers who really only want a free bed and have no concept of the couchsurfing spirit. They make a brief profile and after Darwin will probably never surf again. So after you host for a while in Darwin you start to discern between the different types and quickly become a much harder person. My friend Steve hosted his first girl, a Kiwi. He picked her up from the airport at 1am! I had actually already refused her because of her impersonal message and asking me to pick her up. I often pick people up, generally as it suits my schedule since I work full time but if someone asks me to do it I usually don’t.
Anyway lesson learn to him, he said “never again”

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