CouchSurfing in Ecuador
Posted On 07/11/2010
So what exactly is couchsurfing?
CouchSurfing is a program that is kinda like a cultural exchange where you stay with a local on his/her couch (bed, futon, whatever) and they show you a bit about their city. I first heard of the program prior to leaving, but haven’t really had the opportunity to use it. About a month ago, while in Quito, I met another traveler who used couch-surfing about 80% of the time while traveling and had 0 issues with it. I am usually pretty cautious with where I sleep at night, especially since I am traveling as a single female, but hearing her stories convinced me to give it a try.
So here I am…
currently in Loja, Ecuador with my first couch surfer.
His name is Jamie; he’s quite cute and also is very nice… I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit awkward–probably more for me than for him. Jamie has a small, but clean one-bedroom/ one bathroom apartment in a centrally located area of Loja. He insisted that I take the bed while he slept on the couch. My first night there he cooked dinner, and it was amazing. I was tired and after dinner he went to a pub to catch a soccer game. The next morning, he showed me around central Loja and gave me tips about visiting Vilcambaba and Cajas National Park. It’ was kinda like staying with a friend–who happens to be a stranger. I ‘m not sure I could be as nice and helpful to a complete stranger, but I most certainly appreciate it. By couchsurfing you not only save money because it is forbidden for a host to charge for the couch , but you also learn things about the city that you probably would not have found out on your own.
I stayed with Jamie for almost a week and at the end of my stay, I bought him a weeks’ worth of groceries as a thank-you, and on my morning out of town, he took me to a fresh juice / health store where you pick what fruits you want and they juice them and serve them fresh… I would have never found that on my own, but my pineapple orange juice was excellent. I don’t think I could do an entire trip by couchsurfing, but it is a nice change of pace when I get tired of hostels. I will probably couch surf again at some point (and while nothing in life is 100% safe, Couchsurfing admins do take precautions about how the site is run).
Sometimes I still feel as if I am in the beginning stages of my journey because I spent a large part of this trip sort of away from civilization (good and bad), but with my arrival in Cuenca on Tuesday that began to change. I actually met other travelers. One lady was traveling with her teenage son–sort of a variation of home schooling. She enrolled her daughter in University of Quito for $1200 semester and her son is in Spanish class in Cuenca… after a bit of that, they will go down to Machu Piccu to get in a history lesson or two. I think that would be the perfect way to educate children. They still have a schedule of what they must cover for the 9th grade, but they can do it however they want, and what better way to study World History than traveling the world.
I met another guy who is riding his bicycle! from Alaska to Argentina. He has been at it 15 months and figures to finish in February or so. I think that takes serious guts because pretty much once you cross into Mexico, drivers (and roads) suck… Every two weeks or so he pulls into a town on his bike to relax, go to Spanish school, do some hiking, stock up on supplies, ect… I think that is so cool, but I could never do that. I met another US retiree who is traveling to find out where to move. He said he is tired of the way the politics and healthcare in the US are run and is ready to sell the condo in FL and get out…
I have also met a girl from New Zealand (who loved my Southern accent) who was about to return home after traveling a year. Most everyone I have met has had some type of interesting story about what they are doing–which is nice to hear about…