Wonderful, wonderful Nadia was next in the suburbs of San Salvador, El Salvador. We had already confirmed for several nights with a man in the city center, but once Nadia responded the day before we set sail, it was a non issue. A single woman living in a gated community and a working professional as a statistician for the PRESIDENT…yeah, this might just fare thee a wee bit better. Nadia picked us up in her actual car, happily speaking in English about her life in El Sal and her travels abroad to Europe. Her gated community with guards, two car garages and AC units in every condo was a pleasant, if not confusing sight. She offered to drive us into the city on her way to work when we wanted and gave us advice on which chicken buses to take, where and when. We had separate rooms with beds and a shared, spotless bathroom. It was heavenly.
Nadia treated us to pupusas, El Salvadorian cuisine, and afterward we cooked for her almost every night. She even offered to bring us with her to meet her family in the south and when we politely declined (we felt she was asking out of guilty obligation; we didn’t want to intrude) she gave us a set of keys and told us to leave our bags at her house and head to the beach for a few days. It was perfect and Nadia truly was the perfect CS host. We stayed in El Sal way longer than anticipated solely because we were so happy being with Nadia and her spotless condo. She also taught me to wash clothes in the very meditative, yet laborious way when one is without a washing machine. This made it clear how much I simply didn’t know…
My homie Oona had met someone in Uvita, Costa Rica that was willing to put us up while attending Envision festival. So this particular experience wasn’t through the CS site, but still counts right? Two people rented the home that we were to surf at because they worked at a nearby hostel; three bedrooms, kitchen, two LOUD dogs, bathroom and a massive backyard. The renters were both a Tican and a superbly educated German woman that just finished living half the year in the jungle…she was real! We had two bare mattresses in the front room, as in the mattresses got smacked by the front door when it was opened, and a nice oscillating fan. I think it was the combination of the sticky, stand-still heat, hot weather bugs, and a constant flow of semi- dirty people that made this experience my least favored. Every day I woke up to people talking at their normal, annoying volume at 5am. Like, go outside and do all that.
Once I woke up and almost stepped on fresh dog shit in my sleepy eyed, just-rolled-out-of-bed-awakeness… I decided it was time to leave. Unfortunately, I was unable to say goodbye, but it was just entirely too much for me. I appreciate people giving me a place to sleep for free, but maybe I allowed my frugality to get the better of me in this situation.
Couchsurfing MesoAmerica has been an interesting and rewarding set of experiences that I am really glad I’ve had. I would highly recommend surfing at least once, but tick off these boxes on my list before saying yes.
– Unless you know the person or it is a friend of a friend, use couchsurfing.com
– Ensure they have a picture or two
– I look for at least three references, hopefully all positive
– Read the entire bio page and make reference to something in it when contacting them
– Start a preliminary conversation with them via message and get a vibe, go from there