You’ve heard of Couch Surfing, right? Don’t tell me you haven’t, because lately it seems like everyone’s on it. Anyway, if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, I guarantee that within a week you’re going to discover one of your friends is a member – CS is the Free Masonry of social networking.
The idea is that you can either offer your couch to a traveller in need or ask for it when you’re traveling yourself. It’s a trust-based organisation that promotes an exchange of experiences and ideas between people from different cultures and backgrounds.
I had hosted a few people back at my place in Poland and I liked it, but I had never couchsurfed myself – until I finally got my chance in Oz, where I needed a place to stay for a few days. After sending out some enquiries I was accepted by a couple living on the outskirts of Melbourne. And so, with some trepidation (they are strange people! What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them? I’ll have to be NICE all the time – the horror!), I got on the train to the suburbs of Melbourne…
…And met some of the most brilliant people ever! Jen & Wade both spent a lot of time doing very different, sometimes strange, sometimes boring jobs, until they finally realised that what they wanted was to be independent artists. Somewhere on the way they met each other, discovered they fit together like a hand in a glove, got married, started earning their crust by travelling from one art market to another and – very recently – got a puppy.
As soon as we said hello the conversation just started flowing, enhanced by the killer coffee that Wade makes, until it was time to pack stuff up and set out to a market in Torquay. I spent the whole day walking on the beach, playing with the doggie, looking at things on display and munching on the fair trade chocolate that J&W were selling along with their works (we called it “tasting”. You know, just so we knew what to tell the people about them…). Finally I got caught up in the whole selling thing – this is why I don’t have more photos – and ended up not chipping into their conversations with their own customers. …I have no respect for people… But I did have fun!
Two days later we went to another market, at Rose Street in Melbourne, and this time I don’t have a lot of pictures, because I was busy sitting in a corner getting a haircut from a crazy Kiwi hairdresser-slash-painter clad in a bright pink jacket as a tribute to some obscure New Zealand music band (FYI: my hair looks great now). Afterwards the four of us (remember the dog) went to have a massive dinner in a pub and talked to a man whose job it was to make animals from balloons, and finished off in a cafe at Brunswick Street (oh, thou chocolate cake… I can still taste you when I close my eyes) and a bookshop, where I got Alain De Botton’s “Consolations of philosophy” as a present (J&W are not only cool and fun, but also literarily inclined – yay!).
Oh, and the day before, which we spent separately, we met up for a drink in St. Kilda in the evening – and of COURSE it turned out to be a bar run by a Polish guy, with a full closet of very specific Polish alcohols, so I had the chance to introduce my hosts to the pleasures of “Żołądkowa Gorzka” (Bitter Stomach Vodka – no, it’s not really bitter, and yes, it actually is good for your tummy. Try it and you’ll thank me!). So I suppose it all made a nice circle in the end.
All in all: Jen & Wade are awesome and inspiring (if I end up as a failed artsy bum on the streets of some great city – I’ll know whom to blame for giving me the idea!), great artists and great people. Thanks for letting me into your lives, guys – and please don’t let the doggie hump my legs!
(Here’s the link to J’s blog about her art and inspirations – check it out! Wade takes brilliant photos, but his website is not ready yet. I’ll give you the link when they finish!)