Thursday, 25 September 2014

Couchsurfing, a chance to meet locals

After our mechanical problems we made some long days of many, many kilometres. Unfortunately in Brazil there's a lot of distance between things that, as a tourist, you might really want to look at.
(We had been going to stop at a National Park, but it wasn't recommended due to the drought, and, as we'd only just fixed the mechanical problems, we thought it better to stay on the main road for a bit.)

Despite it being a long way between 'places to visit', we did find some nice places to free camp overnight: lakeside at Capitolio (MG*), where we watched the locals fish; beside river Tieté (SP*), (just off SP333 beside V. Orestina); and in the town of Agua Clara (MS*)). (*state abbreviations.)

In Agua Clara we were parked in town and a young man, having seen 'the Belgian and the Aussie' on the back, came and knocked on our window. He used to live on the Gold Coast of Australia (my state of Queensland). He invited us to his bar, Boulevard 44, for a couple of drinks. So we went to his very nice bar (by far different to the others in town) and enjoyed chatting to him. 

Next stop was Campo Grande, where we had arranged to do some couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a community, arranged online, where locals can host travellers, and travellers can be hosted. Members have a profile online which tells others about themselves and whether they can host or not. I have hosted and travelled with couchsurfing. It's called couchsurfing as that might be where the traveller gets to sleep, but in reality you can also offer just to show travellers around or meet for a coffee. 

As overlanders it can sometimes be difficult to meet locals. So, last year H and I decided to do some couchsurfing. For us, it's a bit different. We don't need a couch or bed to sleep on, but we like some space to park in. Couchsurfing profiles don't tend to mention much about backyards or parking spaces, but I read profiles looking for ones that are out of town. Occasionally I find one and I send a request. 

When we arrived at the address of our host in Campo Grande the place was a shocking mess! The host regularly lets a charity use his acreage as a location for fundraising events. The night before they'd had a techno/house music party there. 1000 people had turned up, which seemed to be more than expected, and they'd made a mess. 

When we left (after 2 nights) our host apologised to us, but we didn't feel that there was anything that he needed to apologise for. These things happen, it was already looking much cleaner (we helped a little bit), and the grass was  going to grow back in time. Anyway, we couchsurf to meet locals; things won't always be perfect. 

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