CS Host Belen

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I finally had an unpleasant experience with Couch Surfing in Madrid, Spain. 
The host Belen and I both felt we were right and refuse to say sorry to each other. 
In the end I surrendered and leave at night.

Belen wrote me a negative reference (which was fatal for CSers) and I (thought I) wrote an excellent clarify response. 
Belen never replied me. But she deleted my clarify response + her negative reference. AND even deleted her own account.

The above image is Belen in my mind, always angry, always fighting and with an ugly nose with hair. I imitated Picasso ‘Broken Face’ style to represent her. This picture was finished on the flight from Madrid to Abu Dhabi. 

We were all wrong when I looked back now. 
I was not polite enough. Belen was not sympathetic enough. We saw the same thing in a totally opposition angle. And we did not sit down and talk about it. 
We held our own position too firm and didn’t listen to each other and keep hating each other. 

Traveling are romantic. But it is realistic. 
Traveling is a good opportunity to look into our heart. And it is always amazing to meet extraordinary people. Happiness always follow with sadness. The most important thing is not forget the reason of travel and grasp the moment. 


More LOVE, less hate.


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Circle 

‘I’m so tired…’
I move a little in the small seat in the bus. The movement soothing the sour but not the hunger.
I sat in the bus more than half day from Barcelona to Madrid. From sun rise to sun set. 
The bread was finished, the mobile was in low battery and I am hungry…
I stared out the bus window. Looking at the waning tail of the weak street lamp light. 

This bus just costs me 12 Euros. I was lucky to have it online. But it would be 10pm when I arrived in Madrid. 


The bus stop does not locate close to my CS Host Belen home. I have to transfer into metro. 
I am afraid I would get lost so I asked Belen if she could pick me up in the bus stop a few days ago on CS website. 
I was thinking I would try to find the way by myself if Belen didn’t want to come to the bus stop.
But Belen said it’s OK. I was happy and relax.

And now I stuck in a bus. Tired and hungry. 
I am worrying if Belen would show up or not when I saw the sky darker and darker. 
I am worrying I would give her a bad impression even if she shows up. 

Oh, worrying doesn’t make things better.
I close my eyes, try hard to sleep. Hoping to get to Madrid as soon as possible. 


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Belen

The sky outside the window is all dark. 
Time seems much slower, house seems much quieter when my daughter was not home.

Chicken yellow curry rice is dinner for today. And it is always my daughter’s favorite. Just hope she eats well and live good in Australia…
It is a relief that I don’t have to rush home to cook dinner for her in these few months. But the house is a bit too quiet for me alone without her.

I tidy up my dinner dish and my cup. And wondering if the Couch Surfer Circle who claimed to arrive in Madrid today would appear or not. 
I switch on my mobile and find out I have a few un-read messages from Circle.

Circle asked me if I can pick her up in the bus stop an hour ago. 
Oh, it’s late at night and I don’t really want to go out. I messaged her the nearest metro name and tell her to come by herself. 

I put down the mobile and wash the dishes. I have my nice cup of tea, sitting comfortably in my nice couch and Circle messages again.

Annoying.
 
Circle said she is about to arrive in Madrid and still insist me to pick her up in the bus stop.

I wrote, ‘I am at home. You have to wait at least 40 minutes for me to get to the bus stop. Maybe you can come to my home by yourself? It’s near if you catch a metro,’

Circle wrote, ‘I am afraid I get lost and I am with a big luggage. It would be great if you come to the bus stop. I don’t mind to wait 40 minutes. But if you are really no OK, I can come by myself,’

I thought, ‘So WHAT if you have a big luggage? I am NOT your bell-boy. But as you wrote like this, seems I MUST go…’

I wrote, ‘OK, see you in 40 minutes,’ 

I sigh and get dressed. Just hope the Couch Surfer this time is a normal person. 


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Circle

Why does Belen seem to forget she has promised to pick me up in the bus stop?
I don’t dare to remind her. It’s good anyway that she would come now.

Finally, Madrid! 
Belen said I should stay at where I get off bus and wait for her. But it is a long, empty corridor. Only some chairs against the wall. 
No restaurants, no soft-drink’n’-snack machine, no spring. I have no food or water but money and an empty stomach. 
Oh my God, I am starving despite I got cash…

I am a bit regret now. 
I should be more confident on myself. I should be able to look at the map, position myself and dragging the luggage. I shouldn’t be too depend on other people, especially strangers. Belen and I had never met. Would she really appear? Can we get along? If she was a cheater, it would be no good for me alone in a foreign country.

I am regret, worry and hungry.
I wait for eternity and still don’t see Belen. 

I am so stupid…Why didn’t I check up the available hostels in Madrid first? At least I would have more options. 
So do I have to look up right now? And give up Belen?

As I am hesitating, I calm down and try to stop worrying as worrying doesn’t help. 
Let’s draw postcards.

Drawing really clams me. 
I felt quietness and safe between black and white, straight and curve.
As I am coloring the Black Madonna in Barcelona, Belen comes.
 
Her peach-reddish scarf is flying with her. The colorful flowers on the scarf are scattering and dancing behind Belen. Her skin is quite dark and can’t be called a bonita. But her smile is like a blooming flower. Her eyes wrinkle in the most prefect angle and her mouth cracks the most beautiful curve.

 


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Belen

Finally arrive in the bus stop. 

I spot Circle right away. She is the only Asian in the bus stop. 
Is she getting a cold? She wears so many layers of clothes.

And she really has a big luggage, more than a meter tall with 4 wheels. 
I put my hands in the pockets all the time and she is smart. She doesn’t ask me to carry the luggage for her but she drags it by herself.

Circle is drawing something when I met her. She said it is the Black Madonna in Barcelona happily. Of course I know that.
I just want to go home quick. It’s late. 

 


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Circle

Belen seems to have no interest in drawing. She just has a quick look, nods, with hands in pockets all the time and urges me to leave.

I am a bit disappointed. All the CS Hosts I met before had a great interest in drawing. They would probably pick up the drawing and have a close look even for this sketching Black Madonna. But Belen seems to have no interest at all.

Belen DOES appear eventually. I am graceful.

She seems rushed. I doesn’t dare to ask for a detour to find food. I can only look around along the way home and can’t see a dining hall, fast-food restaurant or bakery. 

Oh, I am starving…

 


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Belen

Finally arrive at home.
It’s almost midnight. 

Circle suddenly said she is hungry. I am a bit surprise and think, ‘So what do you want?’

I said, ‘It’s late. Maybe I cook you breakfast tomorrow morning?’

She said, ‘I am hungry now, may I eat now?’
 
I am a bit angry but keep my smile and observes her reaction, I said, ‘So you cook?’
 
She hesitated and said, ‘I can cook a little…May I know what food do we have?’ 

I said, ‘I have some lamp chops, corns…’

She said immediately, ‘That’s great, I eat anything!’ 

I try out and said, ‘So you unpack your luggage and I cook for you?’ 

She smiled and said, ‘Awesome! Thanks a lot!’ 


What!? She REALLY wants me to cook and REALLY runs away. Is every Asian so rude? 

Never mind, I generously offer you once. 

 


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Circle 

I am truly surprised.

I never think Belen REALLY cooks 4 lamp chops, cron vege salad for BOTH OF US!
I am OK with bread and water but it becomes a big feast now…

I am overjoyed. I am very graceful but I don’t know how to present. I just hope Belen won’t trouble much.
 

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Belen 

It’s the second day.
Circle is still sleeping when I wake up. So I do the laundry and daily housework. 

I have to work this afternoon so I plan to take Circle to the La Tabacalera which is an art village built in an old tobacco factory. I think she would like the place if she likes art. 

Circle’s black eyes is shining with calculating after breakfast. She says she want to use the washing machine. Um, she really has LOTS of requests…

But I did my laundry this morning and really had no room for her clothes. I ask her to do the laundry later and she is smart not to urge again.
 

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Circle

Belen makes a big breakfast! 

Fresh orange juice in breakfast! I have never tasted fresh orange juice since I came to Europe. And cheese, cheese sauce, butter, olive oil…with bread. 
It is just a FEAST! But Belen doesn’t think so, she said it is just an ordinary daily breakfast.

I have a load of dirty clothing since I leave Barcelona. I ask Belen if I can use her washing machine. She stops and hesitates and points to the balcony, ‘It’s not a problem to let you to use my washing machine. But I have no room for you to hang your clothes because mine is still dying.’
 
Belen’s home is extremely tidy, especially the kitchen is just dust-less. 
But the balcony is just the opposite, a bunch of ‘rubbish’ occupy half the space. A tiny little clothing rack with messy clothing puting under a bunch of rusted iron and dusted steel. 
A few drop of dust flowers are hanged over the cleaned clothing. Is this extreme reflecting their holder’s mind? 

I stay calm and thanks Belen. I said it doesn’t matter if I don’t do the laundry.
Belen shrugs and said nothing.


 

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Belen

Circle really loves the La Tabacalera. She just can’t stop taking photos. She just takes a photo EVERY SECOND. I just doubt this crazy shooting style would have any good images!? 

I have to deal with photograph in office. The camera on Circle’s hands is a pretty good one. But I just can’t agree with her crazy shooting style…

She wants me to stand still and be a model. She says my black and white coat is a perfect match with the black and white graffiti wall. 
I am fine to be a model but I don’t want to be a model for a crazy photographer. It’s just a waste of time. 

I stare at Circle and ask, ‘Enough?’
She catches that and put down her camera immediately. Smart for her. 

I have to get back to my office after La Tabacalera. I teach Circle how to go to the museum but she is nervous and keep asking me the direction. Finally I just walk her to the main road and tell her to walk straight and will hit the museum. 

Um, leaving La Tabacalera earlier is a right decision. I don’t have to late for work. 


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Circle

La Tabacalera is super beautiful!
I am so glad that Belen brought me here. Not many tourist in La Tabacalera. It is not a must-see spot in the travel guide. 
La Tabacalera is like the industrial art village ‘Fotanian’ in Hong Kong. But it opens everyday for free. And with a whole building, cool!

Belen is wearing a black and white coat that day. And there is a black and white graffiti wall in La Tabacalera. It is such a funny composition with 2 black and white. 
I invite Belen to stand in front of the wall and her smile is absolutely beautiful in the beginning. But she soon gets impatient and asked if she can leave. 
Of course she can leave. What can I say in other people’s home yard? 


Madrid 'Golden Triangle of Art' Museums are awesome. Super nice. Sure are must-see spots. 
But I can only find high end restaurant near the museums. 7 Euros for a tapas. Very expensive. I just hope there are some cheap restaurant near Belen’s home. But I can’t find any! 

Oh, it’s no good. I have no food again. Belen is not at home (She gave me the keys in case I got home earlier than her) Do I have to search over other people’s home for food?
 
As I am panic, I find a pot of chicken yellow curry with rice in the kitchen. They are still fresh although they’re cold. No notes beside the food. 
It is just hungry me and the shining food. 
Oh, should I phone Belen and ask her can I eat the food? Should I go on the streets and find cheap restaurant again?
 
I am so regret.
I am a traveler and money is supposed to be spent. I shouldn’t be so mean to myself. I should have eaten that 7 Euros tapas. 
Now I am facing food in other people’s home…Eat? Or not eat? 


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Belen

It’s nice to work half day:)
Weed end dinner is always delicious:))

Circle (of course) comes back home earlier than me. She comes out once I get back home. Her black eyes are rolling again and she says, ‘Your chicken yellow curry is so good, very delicious~’

I can’t catch up with her instantly. But I understand what happened when I walk into the kitchen. 
The curry is half empty, the rice is all gone. So she eats the food I cooked again. 
Circle says immediately, ‘I am sorry! I was starving when I got home and I saw the food and ate them, I am sorry…’

Why does Circle always HUNGRY? She doesn’t know how to go to a restaurant? She eats my food again, that’s fine, but she should ask me first…

 


I like to sit on my soft couch at home. Um, just comfortable, it’s worth the money~

Circle suddenly appears and asks if I could be her model. Again? Morning modelling wasn’t enough? I am tired…
I said, ‘It’s late. Maybe next time,’

She is a bit disappointed but regains her smile quick and talking about tomorrow schedule. 

I have to work tomorrow but free at night. So I asked her, ‘Museum “The Sofia” is free for tomorrow night, Do you want to go with me?’

Circle is a bit hesitated and said, ‘Sure, Let’s go,’


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Circle

Belen seems doesn’t mind I have eaten her food. Relief. 

Belen said The Sofia is free for tomorrow night. I sure want to go. So good to have tips from local people. Save the entry fee!

Belen asks me to go to The Sofia with her. 
Frankly, I wish to visit The Sofia by myself. The museum has a lot to see. And I have (and like) to take (lots of) photos. How can I have time for Ms. Belen?

But Belen is walking slowly towards me, with eyes staring at me, with a pair of black eyes without smile. And asks, ‘Do YOU, want to come with me?’

Suddenly I felt myself is falling into a gangster movie set. I am staring by the killing boss. The boss seems to ask my opinion but actually I can only say YES.


Later at night I ask Belen to be my portrait model if she likes. All my CS hosts like this idea. But she is lying on the sofa lazily and says ‘Maybe later.’

I said ‘Of course,’ at once but I am puzzled. 

Belen doesn’t show any interest on my drawing in the bus stop.
She said she is tired when I ask her to be the model now. 

I have stated in the beginning on my CS profile that I am doing the ‘Picture the Host Project’. But Belen seems to have no interest in art. So WHY does she host me?


 

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Belen

Monday’s work is always dull…

Anyway, it’s off. 
I meet Circle in front of The Sofia.

I have been to The Sofia hundreds time. The best way is to pick the most precious items and just look at them in this 2 hours. 

I must show Circle the ‘Guernica’ by Picasso. That is a real Spanish treasure. 


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Circle

What!?

The Sofia is just free for 2 hours!?
And The Sofia hosts Picasso, Dali!?

Ohohoh, it has been 3 months in Europe. I don’t have time to plan my travel and I am tired. I must do my research next time. I have missed the Ingres exhibition in Prado Museum and I absolutely don’t want to miss Picasso and Dali!

When I visit a museum, I like to see it through. I prefer to walk (RUN if needed) through the whole museum rather than just focus on 1 to 2 particular items. 
The Sofia is big. I think I have to RUN if I want to finish it in 2 hours. I am OK with that. 

But now I am chained with Belen. And she is wearing a pair of high heel and pretty mini-skirt. I really don’t believe she can RUN in that outfit. 

Right now Belen is my burden. I don’t want her to come in the first place. I try to stay calm and follow her to Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. 
It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. 
Can we go now? I don’t want to miss other treasures.

But Belen seems rooted before ‘Guernica’ and warns me with a smile, ‘You should appreciate art quietly,’ 

Fxxk! 


I really want to burst out in front of Picasso. How do I visit a museum is NOTHING to do with you! Are you my MUM!? Why do you always want to control me!? You have your own daughter in Australia. Please don’t expect me to act like your fxxking daughter. I am TRAVELLING but not fxxking ENTERTAINING you! 

But I still try my best to squeeze out a smile, try hard to stay calm and suggests, ‘I want to see through The Sofia. Maybe we can visit the museum separately and meet at the gate in 2 hours? Then we can have a night walk and dinner in Madrid,’ 


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Belen

Fxxk!

What stupid thing does this fxxking Circle just said!? (Make me almost said the F word in front of Picasso) 

To see The Sofia in TWO FxxKING HOURS!? 

Fxxking damn crazy! 

It’s not fxxking possible! 

You just look at the great masters’ work in ONE SHORT SECOND. It’s better DON’T LOOK at all. 

Art is supposed to appreciate slowly and throughly. What is the fxxking points by just glance for ONE FXXKING SECOND!? 

And she want to fxxking walk separately!?
Meet at the fxxking gate after The Sofia is closed!?
So what is the fxxking point for me to come to the museum with YOU!? 

I have been worked in the damn office all day. I want to go home and rest. And I still come to The bloody Sofia for YOU. And you say you want to fxxking walk separately!? 

You are just fxxking crazy!


 

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Circle 

Belen is not happy. 
Her face is darkening. Her short hair suddenly grows long. Black mist is popping out from her back. She is turning into a Medusa (in front of Picasso) and walking slowly towards me. 

I am stoned instantly. I just know she is in extreme anger. I am nervous but pretend to be calm. 

Belen is staring at me deadly, with arms cross and says slowly, ‘You are not polite. I come here for you but you want to walk by yourself.’

‘……’ I forget what I have said. But Belen is not content obviously. She is still walking to me. I am steeping backward slowly.

Belen looks at me in anger and says to me in hatred, ‘You want to walk separately? Fine, you can walk alone. I am going home.’

‘……’ I am about to say something but she already turns her back and gone. Just leave some black smoke behind.

I breathe out heavily. 
I look at the clock. Just a bit more than an hour before The Sofia closed. 
I don’t have time to be afraid. It seems I have some running to do in the museum. 


The Sofia is beautiful as I expected. I am running, looking, frightening and shaking. The master pieces are just floating in front of me like blooming flowers. But I see Belen’s angry face in every picture. 

I can’t stay at Belen’s home tonight for sure. The most trouble thing is that my luggage are still at her place. So I guess I have to go back once. Damn, I wish I can just walk away and never see this Belen bitch again…

I go into a hotel next to The Sofia after the museum closed. The hotel reception says a room costs 100+ Euros per night. I roll my eyes and frankly say I don’t have that money.
The reception says nothing but turn aside. 
I leave quietly. 

As I am hesitating, I bump into McDonald’s. 
I receive a message suddenly. It was sent by Sonia.
Sonia is another CS Host in Madrid. I have contacted her months ago. She just sent a Hi message to me. 

It is such a coincidence! I asked Sonia cheeky, ‘Can you host me tonight?’
Sonia replies, ‘Okay, but why?’

Oh, yeah, but WHY?
How can I explain this situation?

‘Belen’s “Good for you” is suffocating me.
I don’t know what Belen wants, a clown who entertain? A pet which accompany? A daughter who obey? (to replace her claimed daughter in Australia?)
I am graceful that Belen has hosted me. But there are some people in the world that I don’t want to get involve with.’

I go back to Belen’s home that night. Pack my luggage and go. 
I squeeze a smile when I leave and thanks a thousand times for her hosting. 
I feel sick. It is so fake. But I have to do it. Can’t drop a tear even have to bite my lip in blood. 

 


I am glad Sonia agrees to host me that night. At least I am away from Belen now. 


But can I get along with Sonia?
Am I just jumping to Hell from Purgatory? 

 


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Belen

Oh yeah!
This Damn Circle is finally gone!
I will definitely give you a fxxking negative reference. You will see! 

Circle just goes straight to her room without greeting when she comes back. She packs her luggage and leave. 
Cool! Night walk in Madrid! Have fun! I wish you die on street!

I had already visited The Sofia hundreds of time. I have done the effort of going there after working all day as a courtesy with her. But this damn little bitch said she wants to walk alone. How fxxking dares her!?
It is a great relief to see this little bitch leave my house because she made me feel uncomfortable in my own home.

To be honest, I don't think she is a bad person. But the only reason that this little bitch is staying with me (Couch Surfing as well) is to save money, food included, and she even dares to ask me for washing her clothes too, fxxk her! She is just not really interested in sharing anything. 

This little bitch should really think about her bad manners. People who are strangers is offering home, food, time, knowledge and hospitality for free. She should show more respect and gratitude.


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