One hour after meeting my first Couchsurfing host I found myself sweating and shaking in a local yoga studio, being pulled and pushed into unnatural positions that made me feel like I was going to collapse into a quivering heap on the hardwood floor.The class lasted two hours, was mostly in Indonesian, and I was terrible at it. The next morning I was incredibly sore - I definitely have to do it again.
Three hours after meeting my first Couchsurfing host I was driving around Yogyakarta with two of her guy friends who had picked me up from the movie theater where she now was; the movie she was seeing – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – was inexplicably sold out on a Tuesday night, a fact which I’m still trying to wrap my head around. We drove around for a bit, stopping at a dining hall where there were no English words on the menu, no foreigners, only delicious local food.
The guys liked having a native speaker around to practice their English with, and we talked about drinking, California, and Facebook games, three subjects I can confidently discuss at length. It was decided that in three days I would take a road trip with them to a batik (traditional Indonesian cloth) carnival in a nearby city, where we could stay with their friend.
Five hours after meeting my first Couchsurfing host I was sitting on the steps of a convenience store with her and two more of her friends drinking a large beer. It was directly across the alley from the venue we were supposed to go to, but for now the convenience store steps made for a cheaper bar. The plan was to go to the actual bar later once we’d had a few. There were about 20 other young people doing the exact same thing as us - the convenience store steps were apparently the place to be this Tuesday night (second only to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter of course).
On the motorbike ride home though the deserted streets at 3am we stopped at a stoplight and the motorbike rider next to us started chatting with me. He got off his bike and shook my hand. Where are you from? America – Obama. Everyone knows Obama here, it’s a point of pride for many people that he spent part of his early schooling in Jakarta. Apparently there’s a statue of him there, although the local guy who told me this had some strong opinions about the fact.
My host lives with her mom and extended family, and I’m staying on an extra mattress in her room. None of her family speaks English but they don’t seem to mind having a strange girl stay in their house for a few days. I’m learning how to take Indonesia-style bucket showers here, which are thankfully not as daunting as I was prepared for them to be.
It’s only been one night but I can’t believe I waited until two months into this trip to utilize Couchsurfing like this - what an outstanding way to travel.
With my fabulous host Elisa at Yogyakarta’s water castle, site of a sultan’s former pleasure palace