On my recent hitchhiking trip from Barcelona to Istanbul, I stayed with a woman from couchsurfing who became a good friend in Budapest, Hungary. At the end of my stay with her, I used her computer to casually read through some travel tips for the journey ahead, including a guide for solo women travelers hitching through Turkey. Nearly half a year later I got this stunning note, the first I’ve heard from her (emphasis mine):
“I think it was you who left some browser window open on my laptop with a page about safety tips for girls hitch-hiking alone. I’ll be grateful for that forever!!! Until then it hadn’t occurred to me to hitch-hike alone, I had wanted to but never dared. After that of course I decided to go and try it. First I did a short weekend trip to Szeged in the South of Hungary, then joined Peter on his way to England in May, and travelled back alone. It was wonderful to rely on other people, it made me trust humankind much much more than I did before.
And it was good to be on the other side of the couchsurfing-experience, I think I’m a much better host since. I’m going to do some more hitch-hiking starting off in 10 days or so, hopefully it’s going to be at least 1.5 months long, I’m planning to visit friends around the country, also the European Rainbow Gathering in the Ukraine, and perhaps other festivals around Europe.”
Note: Hitching from Hungary to England means she was able to hitch the Chunnel. I haven’t even hitched the Chunnel! That’s so cool!
I am totally bowled over by the unexpected ways people so deeply affect one another, and by the huge effects that an action as small as leaving a browser window open can have! Couchsurfing seems to be an especially effective gateway to these kinds of opportunities.