Over the weekend we hosted a couple of French couchsurfers who were in town to experience the Wellington round of the rugby Sevens tournament and anything else that came their way. In case you don’t know, couchsurfing is when you stay with a private home for free while visiting a new place. We hooked up with Jules and Patrice through the Couchsurfing website – we are listed on there as a place to stay in Wellington.
This was our first couchsurfing hosting experience. My partner Alexander joined the website while travelling in the UK and Europe last year, and though he didn’t end up staying with anyone, he did meet up socially with fellow travellers through the website. Once home, Alexander was keen to host some travellers, but I wasn’t so sure – I value my private space and am known to be a social curmudgeon at times, but I decided to be brave and give it a go.
We looked at the requests for accommodation we’d received and liked the sound of Jules, a young guy in his early 20s from Grasse in the south-east of France. He’d been in New Zealand since early December last year and his father Patrice was going to join him for a week. Jules said he didn’t want his father to sleep in the car as he’d been doing while travelling around – I liked the sound of a solicitous son!
Alexander met Jules and Patrice outside Te Papa, which was their first stop in Wellington, on Friday evening and brought them home. I was immediately struck by their warmth and enthusiasm for New Zealand and the experiences they’d had driving down the North Island over the past couple of days. They both thought they were in paradise and Patrice kept exclaiming in wonder, both in French and gorgeously accented English, which both of them spoke very well. They found the idiosyncrasies of New Zealand speech and language amusing – their favourite New Zealand expression was ‘Sweet as bro,’ which they kept repeating and laughing over, and they found our pronunciation of ‘left’ hilarious.
They had a great time watching all the costumed Sevens fans – something they said you’d never see in France – and watching the games on a screen in town. We invited some friends round for a potluck dinner on Saturday night and it ended up being quite international – as well as our French guests, we had an American immigrant and an Italian traveller. The night ended with Alexander and his mate Joe taking Jules and Patrice to a gig at a warehouse in Miramar. They were gobsmacked when one musician smashed his guitar – this was something new to them.
Hosting Jules and Patrice was a great experience. I loved their positivity and enjoyment of New Zealand. They’d been told New Zealand was a quiet, slow place but they soon learned their source was misinformed. We farewelled them on Sunday, wishing them well for their journey back to Auckland via Taranaki and the King Country. Sweet as bros and au revoir.