My last night from the first time Couchsurfing – Switzerland

I never thought I could run that fast with my big, blue, square suitcase with a logo on it that looks like the Facebook ‘F’, down cobbled streets too, which slowed me right down with both boots untied, increasing the risk of tripping over and falling flat on my face.  This was exactly the reason why when the New Year came and I left home again, left Him behind, I knew I had to become financially stable and make sure I did everything in my power to do just that. I needed to treat it as my main priority. No more relying on anyone to bail me out if shit hits the fan. Last night, I bailed myself out. Sure, my hard-earned winter season money didn’t like it, because what I spent last night in a hotel was over half a week’s wages. Stan (my first of many couchsurfing hosts) hit his lowest low last night; I could literally feel the crazy pulsating off him.

He came back around 11 pm. Although he had taken the keys and left me in his flat, he still pressed the bell. I got up off the top bunk and buzzed him in. When he came in, I asked,

“How come you pressed the bell when you have the keys?”

“Because I trust you,” he replied

“No, that doesn’t make sense. Why did you press the buzzer if you had the keys to come in?” I truly wondered.

“Because I trust you. I knew that you were in. Does that annoy you?”

“No, I was just wondering why you pressed It if you had the keys, ” I said. Giving up, his answer was stupid.

From there, things just got weirder. He reminded me of my fragile minded mum so bad. He kept loosing track of the little things he was doing. He was meant to have a show but got distracted by doing the washing, then got distracted by watering that plant, then got distracted by that bloody empty salt shaker again. All the while, muttering crazy things to himself in English, not French. I could hear him talking about me. Such as,

“You know, I give her the keys the flat, not my fucking asshole..”

“You can take everything, you already have, my keys, my phone, my yellow bag..”

“You can kill me now, I know you want to. You can kill me, I am stupid”

He was literally somewhere else right now. From what I gathered, it felt like he was trying to accuse me of leaving him empty handed with nothing. He lost his phone that night and I can hear him blaming me, I am not sure why. Sure, in the week, he spoke to himself a lot, but it wasn’t like this. Then it got weird, and now, last night… I felt 100% un-safe. It wasn’t even a funny story idea in my head anymore. This wasn’t all fun and games from travelling; this was just insanely crazy and I needed to get away, as soon as possible.

“Can you set an alarm for 5 am please? Wake me up” he said coldly.

“5? What do you need to do at 5 am?”

“Well, come with me for a change and you will see”

“Stan, I’m not coming with you at 5 am to do something that I don’t know what. Why 5 am?”

“Doesn’t matter. Just wake me up” he snapped.

“I need to go pay my debts now,” he said then said after a pause.

“What?”

“I. NEED. TO . GO . PAY. MY DEBTS!” he said each word carefully, slowly, and loud.

“What debts?! Why do you have to do it now? Its 11 pm”

“I need to go to the coffee shop and pay for my coffee”

“Stan, the coffee shop won’t be open right now, don’t be silly”

He then wandered off again, stroking his plant. Talking to it. Talking about how ‘stupid’, he was. Making those bloody pigeon noises with his toy bird out the window again. Then going to the bathroom and blowing into the other bird to make another higher pitched bird noise. Finally, going back to see to the washing machine.  I could hear him talking about the yellow bag he said he could lend me for hand luggage. At this point, my head is down on the pillow in bed and I have my face covered with my scarf. However, my eyes are wide open, monitoring his words. I could hear him getting angry about the fact he lent me it and how he wants it back. He started rummaging through my things in this yellow bag and starts packing it in a different bag.

“Stan! What are you doing?!” I shouted

“Yes yes, I know. I know I said you could borrow it. However, I should not have said that. I don’t want you to take it. I am taking it back” 

“Why didn’t you just tell me……”

“I KNOW I KNOW, but you cannot have it, it has a lot of sentimental value you know” he quickly interrupted.

“Yes Stan I know, but why didn’t you…

“I KNOW, I AM STUPID. I know, but you take everything from me. My keys, my bags, my phone, everything. Everything I have, it is yours. But I just want that bag”

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!” I screamed as I jumped down from the top bunk.

No, no you don’t have to get down.”

“Well I am, just leave my stuff alone. I don’t understand why you didn’t….”

He interrupted again and my blood started boiling, “you cannot have it. It is mine”

“STAN STOP INTERRUPTING ME!”

“Ok”

“So why didn’t you just tell me a few days ago so I could have bought a bag? Why leave it last minute?” I asked

He started mumbling back, something completely unrelated to the bag now.

“You are not making any fucking sense; you are talking such fucking shit!” I shouted as I started throwing my things in my bag.

The heavier stuff like my books went into my backpack in hope that when I got to the airport my bigger luggage was less than 23kg. After I went back up to the bunk and hid my face again. This time, even more cautious of his voice. I had a plan to run away. I could hear him talking again, about how he thinks I want to kill him. I didn’t hear the rest but he started packing his knifes and sharp objects, and his valuables. From me. He packed it all into a bag. He also started packing the other bag, the bag he took back from me. It scared me when he packed the knifes because weirdly enough I was just thinking about them. To hold one next to me just in case. So, I wanted them to protect myself from him, I didn’t know him AT ALL.  Yet, he got rid of them to protect himself for me? All in all, no one was really feeling comfortable with the idea of ‘knifes’. I waited. I waited until he left the flat. He wanted to take the bag of knifes and stuff to the bin. When I heard him leave, I jumped onto my feet, literally leaping from the top bunk with a ‘thud’ like a sound you can imagine from comic books, finished zipping up my bag, chucked on my jeans, and checked to see if there were any knifes left. Could you stab someone with a butter knife? Probably not. I left it and got ready to get the hell out. I could hear him coming back and I was zipping my bag.

“WHAT, WHAT , WHAT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING…..” He yelled as he walked back in. He saw me zipping up my own bag and realised it wasn’t his bag that I ‘stole’ back.

“Oh yes, yes you have to get your flight now” Stan said

“No Stan! My flight is tomorrow. I’m going to find a hotel,” I said almost crying.

He looked at me, “ok well… can you like… hurry up?” he said, trying to rush me out of my own escape.

I threw him a dirty look and ran to the lift with my things. At the bottom of the lift, he was there. He was talking to me about something, but I rushed past him and he gave me an ‘oh..’.

I opened the main front door and stormed off.

Oh, don’t forget to leave me a reference on Couch Surfing!” he shouted after me.

I didn’t say a single word back. I picked up the speed until I was running. Which brings us to the cobbled streets.

I wanted to cry. I thought it would have made me feel better, I wanted a cigarette too, but I thought about my running, I was getting better at it. Crap cigarettes, they won’t make me feel better. About a 15 minute walk away, many ‘which way is the train station?’ later, and after two horrible men tried to hit on me when I was crying, I was at the train station. The first hotel near the station wanted 250 franks. That was when I started crying. I left and actually found something straight after for 99 franks. About £70. Right now, I couldn’t even fight to find something cheaper. I don’t think there was anything cheaper. Just 250 was just not on. When paying for my room I thought I left my purse at Stan’s, the sweat poured off me an insane amount until my eyes met my purse.

I couldn’t stop crying but I had to stop being a baby and realise this is what it’s like living and travelling alone. It wasn’t always going to be a beautiful, flowery path of self-discovery and new friends.. It was going to get dark sometimes, and there were going to be scary, nasty things to tempt me, and make me question it all. However, I just had to stop crying, not be pushed down, and just say ‘Screw you, I am so much better than this. I am strong, I am incredible, and I CAN do this!’

For our solo travellers out there: 

With this story in mind that I ‘am super happy to share with you all, I wanted to highlight some of the ways you can protect yourself if ever a difficult situation arises, and you are alone:

  • TRUST THAT GUT FEELING! Yes, I can’t empathize enough, that gut feeling is what leads me around the world safely. If something just doesn’t feel right, question it, refuse it, or… get ready to run or scream. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to touch our magical journeys with inspiration and love, there are people out there that may try to harm you. However, your gut instinct has your back.
  • Use your common sense. Dark lane at night? Don’t walk it alone, go the long way around or get a lift home. Random men buying you drinks while you’re sat at the bar? Don’t drink it. There’s no lock on your room in the Hostel or Hotel? Buy your OWN padlock and whack it on. These simple things just involve common sense.
  • Research! Use your time wisely and research, research the hosts, accommodations’ and locations. References and Reviews are your friend!
  • Lastly, be strong. Don’t let other around you believe that because you are a solo traveller, that you aren’t strong, beautiful and incredible. You’re not easy to manipulate, and you’re not weak. So, use your common sense, do your research, and trust that beautiful gut feeling of yours.

 

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