I was very lucky in 2007, someone called me and offered a spacious flat in the center of the city. Two months after I moved in, I already had all the dinners I could have with my old time friends, but still felt it’d be cool to share it with more people, besides, I used to have lots of free time back then. A good friend talked to me about hospitality networks like CouchSurfing or Hospitality Club. Had my doubts, but gave it a try and decided to start hosting. Little I knew how that small internet move would change my life forever.
My first guests were a no show. Is this what hospex is about? I wondered. Then another couple finally showed up; we had dinner at a taberna near by and tried to show them around as I’d do with a friend who’d come to visit. We had a great time, talking about many interesting subjects and learning from each other’s culture & life. And I had the best Italian dish ever, as far as I could remember. A few weeks later after them, two New Yorkers asked me to stay and I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with people from one of my favorite cities. To make a long story short, I woke up one day to be served 3 different type of vegan cakes for breakfast. After that, the awkward feeling about allowing an unknown person home was gone for good, and I was definitely hooked to hosting.
Apparently, at the same time my new social life was growing so were the hospitality exchange networks. CS was reaching half million members, Hospitality Club was also getting big and other names like Warmshowers, Freeloaders and even BeWelcome were starting to be familiar around the web. More people were coming by, others locals were interested in the idea, and the whole thing had the feeling of a bunch of similar mind set people forming an international community around the globe. Not something you see everyday, at least no easily.
Each visitor I’d welcomed home would bring new stuff about life styles, interests, country’s culture (the food omg!) and other many times fascinating and undiscovered (to me) subjects. It was easy to feel that interacting with people from so many different backgrounds was adding great color to my life canvas, making me cast off old preconceptions and helping me grow as a human being, just to mention a few. I’d happily open the door of my home to this wonderful strangers, or should I say, these friends to be met. The best part? Hard to say but probably the fact that it was a real life experience, hardly consuming a 5% of the whole thing on line, the rest was a face to face participation.
Allowing Trust to be part of my life also started to grow the number of options available. It was almost as if suddenly many invisible doors would open, not to mention my own mind. Many came to knock on, but no matter how much hosting was done, there was always more receiving than giving. Spaniards, Canadians, Americans, Taiwanese, Italians, French, Palestinians, British, Argentinians, Japanese, Dutch, Belgians, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans, Israelis, Slovaks, New Zealanders, Australians, Latvians, Peruvians, Polish, Ukrainians, Swedish, Portuguese, Mexicans, Turkish, Swiss, Slovenians, and other nationalities I can’t remember. We all had so much in common. Not only Spain, earth was home now. And I hadn’t even started staying at other people’s home…
Thanks for reading. This will continue on a following post in the next weeks.