Before going to Paris to do Couchsurfing I thought I'd stop by Biarritz, in the south of France, to do some real surfing. So I'm here for a week or so. I work before lunch and then I walk around in the city, maybe have lunch outdoors or buy something from the lovely food market and go surfing.
It's still pretty cold (14 degrees) in the water, so after an hour yesterday I was so cold it felt like I had no strength in my hands and my feet were numb. But it's still amazing being out there! The waves, the view over the Pyrenees and Spain, the setting sun. It's simply the best!
Here I stay with a friend that I know through Airbnb and who has taught me a lot about being a good host. I remember the first time I came here, on a Sunday evening in September last year. I had decided to go to Biarritz for a month and had booked the first five nights on a couch in a small studio. It was pretty cold, I was hungry, and didn't know what to expect, except that this guy had so many excellent reviews from other guests it had to be a good place to start the trip.
So I pressed the door bell, and my host comes rushing down the stairs, helping me with the luggage. Next thing he offers me a glass of wine and some leftovers from his dinner, since it's late to go out to eat. And starts talking about so many things I don't even remember what. But basically this is when I realized what it meant to be invited into the home of someone who really likes sharing his life and his experiences with his guests. I'm still struggling to be half as good a host. Now I've been back several times and it's always a great experience.
During that month I also stayed with other hosts who, even though we didn't become friends, were also amazingly helpful and kind. I came to Biarritz without knowing anyone and met these strangers who offered me to borrow their cars, kayaks, surf boards, laptops. Who gave me food, showed me places and did what they could to make my stay as pleasant as possible.
It was such a powerful experience and even though I had already started having Airbnb guests myself, a short time before this, these weeks inspired me in many ways and helped me figure out a lot of things about what I find important in life. Without that experience this project would never have happened.
Which is funny to think about now that I'm here again. Seven months is not a long time, but it feels like so much has happened during that time. I also went back for a couple of weeks in December. I could write a lot more about my thoughts on this, but I'll save it for another time. It's sunny outside!