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33 – Couchsurfing and Trust

30 January, 2012

More than 25 years Ago, Mariza, at the time only 17 years old, left her native Argentina to travel in South America hitchhiking, with few pesos in her pocket and a backpack. There was no internet back then and South America was more dangerous than it is now, especially for a young girl traveling alone, but nothing bad happened to her. Traveling, traveling, Mariza ended up in the Caribbean island of Aruba, before it start booming as a popular place of american middle class for their winter escapes, and settled down.

About ten days ago Mariza pick me up in Aruba airport, hosted me in her place and took me around the island for four days, showing me her friends and giving me an experience I wouldn’t change with none of the costumer of a suite of the many luxury hotel that dot Palm Beach. Mariza is one of the beautiful people I met thanks to Couchsurfing.

What drive a person to open the door of her place to a stranger? For which reason one should pick up in his car someone in the middle of the road with his thumb up? “Hell is the other people”, was Sartre take on mankind. Many times I agreed with him. Why deny it, for our self-preservation instinct, other people are a menace or a source where suck energy. Man is by nature a natural-born killer, despite what vegetarian think. Many experiments proved it already: give a human some power, it is almost certain he will abuse it.

It is also truth our thoughts make reality though. Surely, not in the simple and deterministic way some school of thoughts or pseudo healers promote, but it stands the fact, despite our mean nature, if we give our trust to someone else, mostly this come back to us in a good way. Surely it has to be a critical trust, as Medieval philosopher use to debate if you could comprehend to believe or believe to comprehend. A blind trust is just naïvety and lead inevitably to delusions.

If you are unable to trust, then your life become arid and stifling. It’s a balance between Faith and Reason, to keep speaking on philosophical terms, I am not saying it’s easy to get, but at least be conscious of the borders where our actions moves, it’s a first important step. In the past, and still today for many, this space of “collective trust” was occupied by families, religious groups or political parties.

Today this happen mostly in associations or communities like Couchsurfing, based on specific interests (in this case traveling), where this spirit, this way of living are put in practice. Make no mistake: among the seven millions people enrolled in CS website there are many who are just looking on a free stay. Other who are willing to trap the rich foreigner that can take them to a better world. Everyone has his agenda, but it come to us find people who correspond us.

I am writing from a bar in Düsseldorf airport, and every time I marvel how life it’s expensive in North Europe. Cappuccino and a croissant costed me 5,8 euro, still less that what was selling the restaurant next door. The price of the only wi-fi connection available, kindly offered by Vodafone, is 5 euro for half an hour, 13 euro for 2 hours, 29 euro half a day. In a world where someone is already trying to make us pay for the air we breath, it’s breath a refreshing air knowing there are still people who are willing to offer their house, or at least their time, just for the pleasure of share and without doing as a pledge to any god.

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