Indian grounds, couch-surfing, and art centers
It was time to attempt my first couch-surfing venture. I arrived in Oldsmar honestly quite nervous to meet the stranger allowing me to come live in their home for the night. Naturally thoughts of “I told you so” from friends back home and flashes of stories on the news crossed my mind. Society today tries to scare people from doing things like this… from traveling, from putting themselves out there, and from having trust in the world and humanity. But I’m on this trip to prove them wrong. So I pull up to his house anyways and decide whatever happens, happens.
Ricardo blew every fear I had right out of the water. I learned from him, and from other hosts I would encounter in the future, that most people are genuinely good. Most of the hosts are people who have spent a significant amount of time traveling and living off of other peoples’ couches and generosity themselves and now feel the need to pay it back. They are people who are interested in hearing other like minded peoples’ stories and opinions and want to be able to help someone else achieve their dream just like they were able to live out their own.
I enjoyed listening to Ricardo’s stories from growing up in Brazil to backpacking through Spain. He introduced me to famous architects and artists such as Antoni Gaudi and M. C. Escher. He made me delicious muesli for breakfast and went exploring with me in a neighboring town, Safety Harbor.
Safety Harbor was an artsy town situated right off the pier filled with antique shops and eateries. We stumbled upon their art and music center, a colorful building with an elegantly decorated elephant out front along with an old VW Beetle adorned with wire wrap creating twists, curls, and geometric shapes all around it. Inside we found three artists full of passion and excitement for what they do. They worked endlessly while chatting us up about their work and upcoming events, as well as their travel adventures in Brazil.
From there we went to visit a historic Indian mound. It was a large hill overlooking the ocean that used to serve as a town center for trade and commerce among the native Tocobaga tribe.
I truly enjoyed my time with Ricardo and I am so glad I didn’t let fear stop me from creating a new friendship. I would go on to stay with so many more hosts from the couchsurfing app and it became so natural that now it seems silly to think I was ever afraid to try it in the first place. Thanks to my wonderful host in Oldsmar, I had the courage to make many more memories with individuals all across the country.