Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Couchsurfing & Moral Dilemmas in Stamford, CT.

Sanka dropped me back off at the station yesterday morning and I spent $7.50 getting to Stamford, Connecticut using MTA North trains. When I arrived Malcolm, a 49-year-old male host, picked me up. We had to collect some uber passengers along our way back to his, which technically isn’t allowed on uber, but it wasn’t the only time he didn’t strictly follow rules…

I got into a moral dilemma when I got to his house. It was a beautiful place, totally huge. It even had an attic area for an au pair, as him and his ex-wife had one for 5 years while raising the children. He is only recently divorced, and they share two sons between them.

Anyway, we were talking about him spending so much on legal fees and what have you, then he mentioned how he has started using airbnb. He has a guest in his attic that takes boats out for the rich bankers of New York. He began telling me how he needed more airbnb reviews, and that two couchsurfers had asked him to stay and he questioned if they’d mind using airbnb instead, so he lowered the price to $20 for them and allowed them to book it through there instead. Then, sure enough, he just casually dropped in the same for me, saying “hey, I just need some more references, would you mind using airbnb too?” This is once I was already at his house! This is completely against couchsurfing rules and would get him kicked off the site if I informed them he was asking for money. I didn’t know whether to just pay it and sulk, or tell him to f*** off kindly.

After posting on ‘Female Travel Bloggers’ facebook group, I decided that was it, I’d politely tell him I didn’t feel comfortable doing this and if that meant I had to leave, I would kindly do so. He ended up replying that it was okay, and he understood. He said didn’t want me to leave, it was fine to stay.  I still felt awkward, but I had little other choice. 

When he collected them, his two sons came and met me at the beach. His house was a one-minute walk from a private beach that’s shared among houses nearby, it was gorgeous, especially with the beautiful weather they had! It was well-kept and there was a variety of kayaks/ paddle boards along the side that belonged to those who also used the beach. My host had a small boat too. I watched the boys play baseball for a bit and fell asleep for a while in the sun. 

Upon returning to the house we settled down to cook dinner together. Since his wife had only left him a few months a go, he was having to learn to cook from scratch as she had previously cooked all of the meals. This meant he paid for all of the dinner ingredients to be delivered once a week alongside different recipes for him to try out with his sons. We ended up making guacamole beef burgers and a variety of salad - it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  When the boys settled down to watch TV, Malcolm and I just chatted history and politics for a few hours on the back porch before eventually calling it a night.

This morning Malcolm had to teach a music lesson, so I took one of the boys to the park to play some basketball then we all took the boat out to Cutie's Island nearby. We found a few crabs and just enjoyed relaxing in the water for a while. There is an old burnt down house on the island too - it was built in the 1950s and was only around for 10 years before it set on fire. Now, people often go to the island to camp remotely and get drunk really, so there were a lot of broken glass bottles/ cans around the area. 




When we got back the boys mum came to take them out to lunch, but I was about to leave too so she was very kind and offered me a lift to the station - I suppose they must have hosted Couchsurfers together when they were married. She teaches music at Yale, and we bonded over our love of travel and beautiful places. The boys were telling me about the small plane their dad owns, and how he sometimes takes them out to Vermont on it... Talk about wealthy! Haha. Yet... Still asked a poor student for $20... Mhmm... Whatever! I'm over it now. Onto the next place. 

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