We've slept through a variety of accommodations in the month and two days we've been on the road. With friends, in hostels (usually on the grubby side of things), pousadas (Brazil's answer to a Bed and Breakfast), homes rented through AirBnb, actual hotels with luxurious pillows, and now couch surfing.
Couch surfing is pretty much what it sounds like. What started as a group of travelers supporting a life philosophy of an open door/open floor policy has developed into a sophisticated system where individuals with room to spare can offer up a bed, couch, or hammock to passers-through. Most offer company and an insider's look at the city. Some offer airport or bus pick up. Best of all, for travelers, is it's all free.
I've long known about couch surfing and we'ved talked aboutu doing it, but the website is clunky and it's hard to shake the feeling that you're online dating or walking into homes of potential creeps. But, as we've continued to hate on unnecessary pulls from our no longer growing bank accounts (paid leave ends this week :( ) we decided to give it a try. Man did we hit jackpot.
I sent a request to Giuseppe, an italian retiree, mostly because he looked old and niec and his profile listed blues music and Kant as personal favorites. And we had a 5:30 am flight and he lives near the airport. Turns out our new friend lives in a hyper-planned community (560 large plots of land ana rules against sub-dividng) with club-house, lake and parks. Not that we went there. We quickly realized this would not be a hammock stay.
Giuseppe designed the house himself,complete with a 25 meter one lane lap pool, wet and dry saunas, floor to ceiling windows, a room entirely for china and servingware, and a ook with a library built for stairs "just in case the house needs a second floor someday." The house was furnished with simple, high quality furniture and a wall-size collection of blues, classical, bossa-nova, and other all classy music to be played on the top of the line stereo so you could enjoy it from any of the several eating areas around the house.
We did, often, always with multiple plates and sets of silverware. Dinner of italian imported pasta followed by filets, salad (last in italian fashion), and cold fruit for dessert.
Giuseppe sent us to church the next day (a member of another large church in the area led us there on his motorcycle after we got lost) and spend the rest of the day swimming, laughing and eating so much I wasn't hungry until dinner the next night.
There was one other couch surfer with us, Rosy, a dread-locked Aussie nearing a year on the road. Needless to say, there was lots of interesting conversation about just about everywhere in the world in many languages.
We'll be surfing again in a few days. No expectations.