Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Couchsurfers are People Too (part one)

   So, this past winter we stumbled upon this virtual-slash-real life community called "Couchsurfing."  Have you heard of it?  It is basically a network of groups and individuals who are interested in travelling the globe a little, umm, outside of the box. 
   They like to stay with people in their private homes rather than in hotels.  Or, they like to host such travellers.  Or both.  I guarantee this is happening in your city, and it is happening all over this colorful world!

   Before we go any further, I would love to hear your innermost thoughts right this minute:  Are you thinking, "That is awesome!  I would LOVE to try that!  Hey I know, let's remodel the guest room!" 
   Or are you thinking, "What a bunch of crazy hippies!  Do they WANT to be axe-murdered?!?"  Most people fall into one of these two categories.

  On we go.

   Handsome and I were introduced to this phenomenon by a friend and coworker, Luis, and Luis' partner, Kevin.  Super people. 


   Most of OUR friends and family might assume that I was the one who talked HIM into this, but I assure you, it was quite the opposite.  Of course, there wasn't much talking-into for him to worry about.  My reaction was immediate excitement (placing me in the first category mentioned above), but the fact remains that HE brought this idea home to MOI.  Just for the record.

   Okay.

   So we signed up.  And yes, it's free.  The first part of the process is building a profile for yourself online.  And just like in junior high when you do the personality-career tests and such, or like in third grade when you write and draw about your personal likes and dislikes, this was fun in a really egocentric way. 
   Handsome and I went to work as a team describing our home, our accomodations, our specific willingness to entertain, cook, drive, etc.  It was great learning more about my husband in this regard, by the way.  Might be a worthwhile exercise for couples, even if you have no intention of being crazy axe-murder-craving hippies along with us.

   Oh, and you get to upload photos.  Nothing like posting a photo of your home online to make you want to beef up the flower beds!  Public shame is the mother of improvement, after all.  Do you think I need more gladiolus here, or more spiralling ivy?
   After gaining our authentication, collecting exactly one personal referral (thanks Luis & Kevin!) and getting generally happy with our profile, we waited.  Unsure of exactly what to expect, I was silently hoping for visitors who would volley to us profound cultural truths and then show us how to cook exotic foods.  I had just read Eat, Love, Pray not long before, so you will perhaps forgive my overly romantic view of this whole experience that had yet to happen.

   We did receive one couch request not long after signing up, We had to decline it though because Oklahoma was then in the thick of a pretty hefty snow storm.  Our farm was without running water, and the driveway was completely impassable.  We felt this was not the picture of hospitality we wanted to display.  Hence, a slow start to our couchsurfing career...

   Before long, REDEMPTION.  Luis and Kevin received a couch request they could not fill due to scheduling conflicts, so they very generously sent the travellers our way.  I was away from the farm that day, shoppping and luncheoning with my little sister (hi Ang!), so the midday notice of overnight guests sent my hostess mind into a mild tailspin.

   Deep breath.  This is what we've been excited to do, right?  So after finishing our "very important errands" and just in the nick of time, Angela & I swung by a super classy giant chain store (starts with a W) to stock up on not only guest-worthy dinner ingredients but  also a few spontaneous creature comforts like a new polka dotted body pillow, extra toothbrushes, and vanilla candles.
   Looking back, the body pillow is difficult to explain.  When I saw it in a center aisle though, it stage- whisered to me, "COUCHSURFERS WILL NEED THIS!"  So it became part of our home's pillow arsenal for a mere $9.


   One extra word on dinner prep for couch surfers:  Handsome and I had the notion that lots of our visitors might never be exposed to Oklahoma except through this experience, so we (meaning I) really wanted to make a splash.  We (meaning I) really wanted to make a Land of the Red Man-Prairie Life impression, ya know?  So lovely pasta dishes, Tex-Mex, and take out Chinese were mostly out of the question.  We were going for an authentic Okie menu, and that proved to be tricky.  What would you have served?

  
  
   To be continued...
  

  

pinnable

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