I get couchsurfer requests relatively often in Palau. I have an account on couchsurfing.org, which is a site that exists so backpackers can find like-minded people in the cities they will be visiting and meet up with them or stay at their place for free. Sometimes I refer to couchsurfing as "licesharing" because that name occasionally feels more accurate.
There are a wide range of views on what the purpose of the site is. The most snobbish turn their noses up at anyone who doesn't consider couchsurfing a "lifestyle."
But I'm just going to tell it like it is: couchsurfing is a way to get free boarding. Yes you meet a lot of really great people along the way. But you also increase your chances of being slaughtered in your sleep or getting human trafficked. And all in all, most people wouldn't do it if they weren't trying to save a buck on their travels.
While couchsurfing, I've had mostly good experiences. But there have been a few not so good ones that usually lead me to cancel the remaining couchsurfer plans and overspend on comfortable hotels at the end of the trip just to try to make up for the cockroach that crawled across my face while laying on someone's floor in Bulgaria. Last year I told the story of one of my stranger couchsurfing experiences at a live story-telling event. You can find that youtube video here if you are interested.
Because so many wonderful people have taken me in and befriended me, I feel a strong need to pay it forward, so occasionally I host a surfer here in Palau.
A month ago I got a request from two German girls BEGGING and BEGGING and BEGGING for me to let them come and stay with us. Initially I ignored the request because I get a lot of them and I can't deal with them all. So they messaged me again. And again. And again. And again. LONG emails. BEGGING for a place to stay. Offering to clean the whole apartment. Promising they will "follow all of house rules even to tee." Repeating over and over that the only way they could come to Palau is if I hosted them because I'm the only listed couchsurfer in the entire nation.
Guys. After reading these emails, I seriously started to think that this was a life or death situation. Like, I kept having to remind myself that these girls were not going to die if I didn't allow them to come stay with me.
But eventually I just accepted their request because I have a hard time saying no when there's pressure. Which is why I've gone camping so many times in my life. Plus, it was like a month away and it's easy to commit to things that are a month away because it seems like the day will never come.
But it did come. On Wednesday. At 2:00. In. The. Morning. The Germans invaded. And I seriously have not gotten a straight answer from them yet about when they will be leaving.
Side note: All of the flights into and out of Palau happen between midnight and 3:00 AM. Why? Why does this happen? Why can a flight not leave or arrive at a normal hour? It feels sneaky to me and I don't like it. While waiting for the couchsurfers to arrive the other day I was Skyping with my friend Corey and telling her how nonsensical this was. She started offering possible reasons for the flight schedule. Guys. When someone is ranting about something upsetting, that is NOT the time to offer reasonable explanations. She noticed the look on my face, immediately stopped, and agreed that this was nonsensical. But she got pretty close to the line.
Anyway, the two most blond and chatty sisters that have ever lived entered my apartment two days ago and have not stopped talking since then. Both of them. At the same time. Always talking. Constantly thanking us, asking us questions, and telling us about their 3 month backpacking trip in which they have somehow managed to not spend a penny on anything.
Last night they both talked for 2 hours about how their laptop is no longer working and how desperate they are to get it fixed. Guys. I can't adequately describe the way their voices sound. It's like an intense desperation/gratitude/sweetness/concern. Add strong German accents and 6,000 words per minute. After a few seconds of this, anyone within earshot rushes to do whatever they ask out of a mix of both pity and a desire to make them stop talking.
But I have to admit, these girls are pretty wonderful. Interesting, inspiring, entertaining, etc. Nonetheless, within 24 hours of them being here I already felt like I had aged 5 years and oh my gosh maybe this will trigger puberty!
This morning Daniel offered to take them into town to help them find someone to look at the broken laptop. A few hours later I got this text from him:
Oh my gosh. These girls are in the computer store and they are crossing themselves and pleading for help. And talking nonstop. And the people at the store are scrambling to help them.
And then this text:
People are scrambling, Eli. IN PALAU. Scrambling to get something done.
Then this one:
If I take them to the grocery store, do you think I can get them to speed up the checkout process?
Then this one:
Computer magically fixed. They just asked me to drop them off on the side of the road so they can hitchhike their way north. What should we do with their stuff if we never hear from them again?
I feel like I have three children now. And they're all my age.
~It Just Gets Stranger