I had been involved in the Couchsurfing scene as a host for some time before I actually decided to try it out on my own. For those who donâ€™t know: Couchsurfing is a website where you can find hosts in the cities/places youâ€™re visiting. You crash on their couch for a few days, or sometimes the host will even have a spare room for you. And itâ€™s FREE!
It works because itâ€™s an honour system. The guy from Buffalo whoâ€™s about to crash at my place tonight has 44 references â€“ all positive. Some people think itâ€™s risky (my mother is tearing out her hair right now as sheâ€™s reading this), but itâ€™s easy to do safely. And then you get that whole insider knowledge thing. Yada, yada.
In Galway, I had posted a message on the Couchsurfing.org site saying that I was looking for a room to rent for a few weeks. A guy named Cathal messaged me. He was like the Holy Grail of Galway Hosts â€“ tons of references, immediately friendly, and wonderfully accommodating. He had a place for me to rent, and he was moving into it in a few days. Until then, I could crash at his place. He invited me over to meet him.
On Monday, I helped him move into his new apartment. There I met Richy, and Padraic, two handsome devils with a touch of mischief. Richy and I had known each other for about five minutes before he made an offer I couldnâ€™t refuse.
â€œWouldnâ€™t it be funny if we pretended to be making out when Cathal walked in?â€ he asked.
â€œHaha, yesâ€¦â€ I was delightfully awkward. Cathal totally fell for it anyway.
Over the next few weeks living together I learned that the Irish are exactly how you think they are. Theyâ€™re wonderful. When Julia showed up, they welcomed her with open arms too. One evening we went out and partied until the wee hours of the morning, and then came home and promptly crashed. A few hours later Richy burst into the room, trying to rouse us to go surfing. Julia and I were aghast. The Irish are tireless.
They even snuck me into their universityâ€™s cafeteria. I was nervous as hell. When we got onboard the student bus taking us to the university, Natasa told me to not even look at the bus driver, but to head straight to the back of the bus.
â€œDonâ€™t worry, students get free bus fare and they donâ€™t even check for passes,â€ she insisted. I did as I was told. It was only when I sat down did I realize that the driver was the same one who had delivered me from Perama to Mytilini earlier in the day, and he was very much aware of my Englishness.
But, anyway, I made it to the cafeteria for a free meal.
â€œWhen you get your tray of food, donâ€™t go to the checkout. Just head straight to a table and weâ€™ll join you,â€ Daniella instructed.
I had laden my tray with food, when I looked up and met eyes with the woman at the cash.
â€œNow,â€ one of the girls hissed.
I turned on my heel and darted to a table. I held my breath waiting for the woman to come and scold me. Nothing happened. You know that thrill that people supposedly get when they commit crimes? That didnâ€™t happen for me. I was so freaked out the whole time, I couldnâ€™t wait to leave.
We hitchhiked home on the way back. Thatâ€™s two things in one night Iâ€™ve never done before: steal, and hitchhike. What an outlaw Iâ€™ve become.