Do you Couchsurf? Note From Canada via Ethiopia

Above: Maskarm k Haile in Sosussvlei, Naimibia. Sand dunes
of Sossusvlei are known to be the highest dunes in the world.

Tadias Magazine
By Maskarm K. Haile

Published: Monday, August 25, 2008

Addis Ababa (Tadias) – I live in Canada and I am writing this from Ethiopia on my way to Sudan. Couchsurfing all along.

How many of us crash on our friend’s friend or friend’s cousin’s couch when traveling? We may even put a little extra effort into researching and getting connected to “someone who knows somebody” at the destination we intend to arrive at.

These days budget travelers are using the internet to build a network of individuals who are willing to let them crash on their couch – creating a better world, one couch at a time. It is called “Couchsurfing”.

Couchsurfing is not about getting a free accommodation only, it’s about creating more meaningful relationships that go beyond race, culture and other barriers, across borders, countries and continents.

I have always been a travel junky. I love meeting people and experiencing new cultures. I constantly look for ways to travel safely and cheaply. So finding couchsurfing was a coming home of sorts. Not only for the free accommodation, but also getting to meet people from all walks of life made it much more appealing to me. The organization has 630,976 members in 231 countries representing 44,359 cities. Its mission: “CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding.”

Since I have become a member officially I have successfully surfed 15 couches in 12 countries including Canada, England, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and made 110 real life friendships and contacts along with 4 virtual ones. I also serve as a Nomadic Ambassador organizing events and meeting couchsurfers along my Trans-Africa travels. The couchsurfing site is fully run by volunteers from around the world and it restores faith in humankind and the world we live in. It’s even more mesmerizing how quickly we learn to trust one another, when the host who has just picked you up from the airport, for example, drops you home and gives you their house keys because they need to be somewhere else that night.

Moment with a polar Bear, Northern Ontario, Canada

Southern Ethiopia – in Turmi village, Humer Region

Lake Malawi


At the extreme southwestern tip of the African continent

There is always excitement about meeting new couchsurfers. Whether you meet for a visit at a local museum, a cup of coffee, or a gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant one thing is guaranteed, there is a conversation flow that goes on, be it on travel, politics, culture, relationship, environment, family – every topic is discussed with understanding and interest. The amount of knowledge and wisdom shared with fellow couchsurfers never ceases to amaze me, as well as their continued effort to make this world a better place.

About the Author:
Maskarm Kebede Haile resides in Montreal, Canada. Her first travel journal, My Humanitarian Journey to Africa, appeared in Tadias in 2003.

You can learn more about Couchsurfing at

20 Responses to “Do you Couchsurf? Note From Canada via Ethiopia”

  1. 1 Guest Aug 25th, 2008 at 6:02 am

    It sounds very interesting. Can I take my family couchsurfing?

  2. 2 Fasil (Australia) Aug 25th, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Hey Mimi,

    We have met in Melbourne, Down under a couple of times, if you remember me. You are a brave girl, I must say.

    Keep it up


  3. 3 Nolawi Aug 25th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Bery Kul!

    Arif nesh betam I dig!

  4. 4 Jacob Anderson Aug 25th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    This is wonderful. I was just browsing through Google News and discovered this Magazine. Although it is clearly geared toward Africans in the West, I enjoyed most of the stories here. I truly appreciate your adventures spirit, Maskarm. I am a travel junky as well and I have always wanted to travel to Africa. But I never seemed to have saved enough money to do it. Now, thanks to you, I will look into Couchsurfing. Thank you. Please let me know if there are things that I should watch out for.

  5. 5 DJ Aug 25th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I give you a lot of props for couchsurfing with people you don’t even know. I’m glad you are having a great time with the network that you have created but I think this article would have been complete if it included the other dark side of couchsurfing and how to protect yourself from situations like that. Specially, coming from an actual couchsurfer would have been a great help. I must say though you have a lot of guts to do what you are doing. Make sure you keep yourself safe.

  6. 6 Selam Aug 26th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Wow!! Great job girl!! I am very impressed. Admiring your courage.

  7. 7 Upset Aug 27th, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Meskerem, Selam Lanchi Yihun!!

    I have never heard about “Caochsurfing” before. How interesting it sounds, Thank you for putting this information on the net. I always dreamt about traveling around the world, if it wasn’t for financial difficulty. You carry on this interesting and adventurous work.


  8. 8 Dawit (Australia) Aug 28th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Dear Mimisho,

    It is a wonderful thing you are sharing with others and I’m so proud of you. Sorry for not catching up with you in Addis anyways I have down loaded your picture and kept it in my picture folder whenever I miss you I have got something to look at.

    Your friend

  9. 9 adey Sep 2nd, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!
    your fellow unofficial couchsurfer

  10. 10 Wehibe Sep 2nd, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I like that. Something I really want to do but don’t know where to start. You break the paradigm girl. Keep up what you doing and in the end; everything will come your way.

  11. 11 Junaid Rafiq Oct 12th, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I’m proud of you my friend. Hope to meet soon Inshallah. be well and keep smiling

  12. 12 Tesfaye Oct 12th, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I thought you needed a visit to a shrink when you discussed these thoughts with me years ago but I now see the point and this is one heck of an experience you’re sharing with the rest of us, who would never have a clue about most of these places you go thru. My hats off to you, girl – I admire you for your courage to follow your heart’s desire and dedication to fulfill your dream. Have a safe journey and hope to see you share it with an even wider audience in a journal, someday!!! Au revoir!!!

  13. 13 Mehari (Montreal) Oct 12th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Maskarm,

    What a great experience, girl! Your pictures motivated me to try couchsurf someday to visit Asia. Thanks for sharing the information. Enjoy your travel. Bye.

  14. 14 NEBIYU Oct 13th, 2008 at 2:56 am

    hey Maski we all are proud of are the shining star.Great job girl!!

  15. 15 Temesgen Oct 13th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Maski, as usual you always amaze me and never stop thinking and telling others about your exceptional lover of such a wonderful adventure. I always love to hear from you and always take your friendship as one of great gift. I’m glad your doing fine and glad you do what you love to do in your life… exploring the world. I can’t wait to see you very soon… please take care yourself,

    Love, TK

  16. 16 KIKI Oct 14th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Musky,

    I am proud of you and my country Ethiopia.

    God bless you and may he gives you long life and more wisdom!

  17. 17 SOLO Oct 14th, 2008 at 5:31 pm



  18. 18 Hagossa G. Buckner Nov 24th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Meski I’m proud of you. May God be with you and bless you. Peace and love

  19. 19 Hostelio Oct 25th, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Although i am in travel business, it took a while until the news reached me. Quite unconventional way of traveling, skeptics might say.

    Having browsed through several member profiles and reading through testimonials of people who have chosen to travel this way, I am convinced unconventional is not bad at all.

  1. 1 My Life as a Travel Junkie: From Ghana to Bolivia at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jan 9th, 2011 at 12:00 am
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