There are so many ways one can chose to travel. We prefer to surf. We don’t surf with a board, actually, we are not even qualified to jump on top of one. No, we surf couches.
Couchsurfing, or CS, is a global network of travellers and hosts who share their need for adventure and meeting new people. As a host, one travels without leaving one’s hometown through the experiences and cultural differences of the surfer. As a surfer, one gets to stay for free at the host’s house while receiving first-hand advice on the place one’s visiting. The benefit is mutual.
As a couple, we find it harder to find hosts whiling to accept us: two is more expensive to host than one; couples often are too entangled in each other; singles prefer other singles to hang out.
Nevertheless, we found two amazing hosts in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital.
We leave you with some advice and basic rules for having an awesome experience and getting the most of your couch.
Number 1. Your host knows what’s best for you
With Claudia, our first host in Managua, we were flooded with incredibly useful tips on how to get by. Always follow safety advices from your host, they know better.
Claudia was also a key part in organising some activities in the city. Coincidently, I had my birthday the next day we arrived, so she helped Joao prepare a surprise for me – a visit to the unique cloud forest in Mombacho volcano. She really knew it would be a special gift.
Talking to your host beforehand about what you want to do is the right way to ensure that you get the most out of the experience.
Number 2. You will do new things, so open up to new experiences
As an expat, Claudia’s need for other foreigners’ company led her to participate in a running group called Hash Harrier Group. It’s a group meant for socialising although you might get into shape without realising. You run on a trail with clues and, at the end, you end up drinking to compensate for all the effort you put in the run. It was a super fun day, where we would met our next host, the Nica Omar.
Enjoy some time together with your host, they will appreciate the interest and you will leave with a new story to tell.
Number 3. Develop new skills and don’t be afraid to play the fool
Nicaraguans’ hospitality is certainly a match for Couchsurfing and so we stayed with Omar throughout Xmas festivities in Managua. On December 8, Nicas celebrate a religious tradition called La Purisima, where families build altars outside their homes to an image of La Virgen Purisima, pray, sing traditional chants and distribute gifts to the population. The day before, late in the day, crowds fill the streets with chantings to the Virgin Mary, what they call La Griteria. People go from house to house, sing to the Virgin Mary in the altar and, in exchange, receive gifts from the families that put up the altars. It’s a boisterous and peculiar event celebrated throughout Nicaragua and we were also part of it, trying to sing to the tune. We even ended up with some tasty gifts!
Be part of the traditions and don’t be afraid to get immersed into local culture, you might even develop new skills.
Couchsurfing is super easy to participate. Make sure you build an interesting and detailed profile to increase your chances to host/surf and respect the other person’s wishes and differences. In the end, what matters is the quality of the human relationship you build through the CS experience.
Have you ever surfed/hosted in Nicaragua? Tell us how was your experience!