The above photos are just a few of the 40 couchsurfers I have hosted over the last couple of years.
I retired in 2002 and spent the next 5 years on the road…then chose Oaxaca as a home base. Since I live alone with extensive travel only every year and a half or so, when my surfers from other countries come I feel like I am traveling again!
I have grown attached to every single one of my surfers and I keep in touch with many of them on my FB page. I space them however, so that I make sure I am “up for it” when they do come and that my time with them is quality time. The young women sometimes become like the adult daughters I never had and I totally relate to the young men who make me feel like I am with my 3 boys who are off to the winds. And I’ve loved the bicyclers!
If surfers are just enjoying some “down time” in my apartment I enjoy seeing them enjoy themselves and I enjoy cooking for them. Having said that, however, I hope I never make them feel obligated to spend any more time with me than they are willing. I take my cues from them and don’t try to control their experiences…letting them be as independent as they would like. I hope they don’t feel “mothered!” ) After all they are adults traveling to experience other cultures/languages and as an expat in Mexico I try to introduce them to as many locals as I can…often inviting them to join our dinners. I like to share local mores and politics if they are interested.
And my age means that I don’t get the hard-core partiers that come in late drunk. The fact that surfers choose me says a lot about them, I think. And I read and screen profiles well. Reading between the lines is an art.
The tone is set in the beginning. I trust them to be respectful and responsible just as I did with my own kids and the kids in my alternative education program for 10 years. So far my surfers have lived up to it. My fingers are crossed but then if there are troubles I will just consider it a teaching moment for us both.
I just get high on the smiles and laughter my surfers bring to me which I think is reciprocated.
Thank you to all my surfers now and in the future. And of course I enjoy all the other ages too! Bente and all the 50+ friends I am waiting for you! I know, it’s summertime and Norwegians are outside and not on the computer!