Posted by on May 14, 2013


It was the people and not the place that made my stay in Buenos Aires a great experience.

I stayed with five couchsurfing hosts during my time in Buenos Aires. Firstly, I landed in Recoleta with Blas Chiaretta and his Swedish flatmate. It was a high energy environment but I couldn’t participate because I was ill most of the time. I broke my stay in the middle to flee to Uruguay for a couple of days, and dollars. Blas is going to Australia so I may be able to reciprocate if I’m there at the same time.

Casa Adriana y Juli.Next I left the CBD to play ‘first couch’ with a very accommodating family in La Lucila. I like big houses – or at least appreciate them now that I don’t inhabit one. My own room, my own space and the loose alibi of being ‘too far’ from the centre allowed me to go really easy for four relaxing days. I enjoyed the conversations with my hosts – one of whom spoke awesome English – just about grammatically flawless and no ‘Latino’ accent. Thanks for showing me I Love Arepas, because it’s true, I do Love Arepas and loved many during my stay! Juli, te deseo lo mejor en conseguir una beca para poder ir y estudiar en Inglaterra. La mereces y serías la mejor estudiante!

From there I made my way to the 12th floor of an apartment building overlooking a major highway to spend four days with Fernando in his cosy apartment. Cosy is a creative way to express ‘small’ and ‘hot’, but the weather was warm. I didn’t mind – I enjoyed it. Fernando was recovering from a broken leg basketball injury so didn’t get out a lot. We chatted, listened and exchanged music and I enjoyed the fact that he lived close to San Telmo which I discovered during my stay with Fernando.

I then found myself without couch when two hosts pulled out on me – and checked into my first (and only) hostel in Buenos Aires. Once again in the suburb of Recoleta, I had time to explore the streets, sights and surroundings of the northern neighbourhood.

From there a response to my emergency couch request found me with Ana and Victoria in Palermo Botánico. I was also their first couch and once again, they were so accommodating and disposed to help me in whatever I needed. When I returned from Uruguay the second time, I WhatsApped a request and had a couch for three more nights!

The problem was four nights was how many I needed. I’d been in contact with this guy before going to Uruguay and we were going to catch up for a meal and a beer but it didn’t work out. He saw my emergency couch request and WhatsApped me with an offer. Marcelo was my final host in Buenos Aires and I arrived late, chatted, crashed and made lunch for all the next day. Vegan Morrocan targines have been a massive hit in South America thus far!

Couchsurfing has provided such a wide gamut of experiences and the opportunity to meet a broad spectrum of different people. I’m glad I discovered and became involved in CouchSurfing when I did. Given that I am travelling solo (in general) it is very easy to land in a hostel where others speak English and it is all much less personal. But reflecting on one of the principal reasons for travelling solo, that of learning the language, Couchsurfing puts you with people who live in a place, many of whom go out of their way to ensure you have a good experience. The fact that there is not expectation of payment loosens the relationship and allows for sharing and contributing in other ways. What I have come to realise is that the manner in which people view you has an effect on how you view a particular place. Room 109, seat 14e, 56 por favor, ¿quién sigue? leaves you with a sense of haste as you struggle with the inflexibility of pre-defined systems. The amount of knowledge a person has of the place they live in is huge. Just a small bit of advice from such a person, if intended in good will to inform you, is a big help to a traveller who knows nothing of the place. Look at what tourism companies always try to offer ‘the best services, customized to your needs’. I have no doubt some are very good but that is what Couchsurfing is about. You’re not a number. You’re a guest. You’re a novelty and the system is naturally personalised.

So you if you have a spare room with a bed, consider signing up to CouchSurfing. Consider making your couch available to someone. There are thousands of people who want to go to the city/place where you live. For them it is their holiday, it’s what they saved up to do and to see and sharing just a little bit of what you have, of what you know, will help them enormously. And who knows if because of what you did, you find yourself in some 4 bedroom house close to the centre of the city, as guest of a family all because you received some traveller before in your house.

This happened to me……that’s how I started my trip!