Join the Xela CouchSurfing Community
By Cynthia Ord
For those who haven’t already joined couchsurfing.com, now is the time. Couchsurfing is a social network that connects travelers who want to see the world with hosts who want to show off their corner of it. Through Couchsurfing, traveling members can search for host members in their destinations and request to stay in their homes for free.
It takes a leap of faith to contact a stranger through a website, then plan to show up at their door with your backpack and sleeping bag, ready to camp in their extra space for a few days. It also requires several measures of precaution, many of which are built into the site. Once you’ve started Couchsurfing, the benefits are obvious: meet interesting people who can show you around a place they call home, and save money. Once you’ve been Couchsurfing for awhile, hotels and even hostels become plan B.
More than a networking site that finds free places to stay, Couchsurfing is an organized movement and global community. Levels of participation range from Couchsurfer to Verified Member to Ambassador. Various cities all over the world have become known for having vibrant and active Couchsurfing communities. In Guatemala, the most Couchsurfing activity is in Antigua, where an organized group holds meetings, parties, and events. What about Xela? A “couchsearch” in Xela yields about forty results, meaning there are around forty hosts here, both Guatemalan and foreign. Despite the shortage of comfortable upholstered furniture in many living spaces, people are finding ways to host Couchsurfers in Xela, and requests from Surfers are steady. As a host, I’ve received a series of fun and memorable Surfers. One loved hula hoops as much as I do. Another liked my co-house so much he decided to move in and stay in Xela for awhile. Good things happen on couchsurfing.com.
In order for the Couchsurfing project to be successful, the amount of hosting needs to be equal to the amount of surfing. Becoming a host was the obvious way to give back to the project, and to “pay” for my great experiences as a surfer in the past. In order for the Couchsurfing community in Xela to thrive, we need to connect and build community. The first-ever CS Xela meeting was held in January, with good results. Come join the group, and stay tuned on the site for CS Xela events.