When I was in Katoomba, I discovered for the first time the Couchsurfing. It brought me a house, new friends and several outdoor activities such as Pack rafting, Mountain Biking and Rock-climbing. However at one moment I had a gap between two Couchsurfers, so I’ve tried something even more exciting: Be received by a random local.
I was already mentally prepared since my trip from Cairns to Sydney when this idea appeared. I was thinking about scenarios to brake the ice between a local and I. When the day came to find a random host, I first began to check if any houses have a bell. I wouldn’t cross the gate of a property without warn the local before. Unfortunately I didn’t find any house with a bell.
Therefore, I went in a cafe. It’s always a good place to start because it’s quiet and people are relaxed. To choose one, I went where I saw the greatest number of people and when I was inside, I looked for a good spot to be in eye contact with everybody in order to be able to find an opening. The waitress took my order and a few minutes later, she served the old man on my right hand side. He was reading a newspaper, so I waited the waitress serves him to say something without being impolite.
The first sentence that came to my mind was “It’s seems really good!”. You can think or say whatever you want, it worked! This man answered me by ” I confirm you that it is”. First contact: done. After that, I was thinking about a topic I could share with this man. Hopefully, Dan gave me a few informations about Katoomba and the restoration of the Carrington Hotel, the aboriginal story about the “3 sisters” (7 in fact) and Jamy told me the story about the Majestic which is in the next town: Blackheath. Like that, I can show to this man I pay attention about the place where he lives. And I was right!
I won’t tell you everything about our solid hour chattering but here are some tips you have to know if you wanna try:
- If you hitch-hike, your last driver might be your host for a night
- Have a look in the lonely planet, in a library, in parks … to know something about where you go/are
- Start to look for a place in order to establish the first contact 2h before it becomes dark
- If you are in town, the first contact is easier in a quiet public place where you can talk
- Follow your heart and your instinct to evaluate people around you
- Brake the ice at the right time
- Introduce yourself:” Hi I’m Julien, it’s my pleasure to meet you”
- Ask how long this person has been in town and follow on with what you know about the city
- Lead the conversation at the beginning to create a comfy atmosphere
- Answer the man’s questions honestly and, if you can, with your related stories.
- Always follow the thread of the conversation and if this one is slipping your final question, lead it back
- Explain why you are traveling, what you’re trying to realize and why it’s important for you to connect with locals people
- If this person agrees with you, it’s time to ask:”So, (name of this person), would you agree to receive me in your backyard for a night?”
- Because He/She agrees with you and since you was honest, He/She can’t really say “No”
- Congratulation, you have a place to sleep!
Mostly you will be invited to sleep in the guest room even if you have a tent, and you will join this person (and his/her family) for dinner.
Always stay polite and grateful for everything in regards of your host. You just received the best gift a local can offer to a stranger: the hospitality.