I’ve couchsurfed extensively on The Happy Nomad Tour. It’s a way to meet locals everywhere I go, not stay in sterile, boring hostels, and save money. So far I’ve had tons of positive experiences, making friends for life along the way.
In Ecuador I accidentally broke a pot’s lid and I had to replace it. Until now that was the worst thing to happen to me as a couchsurfer, thankfully.
That all changed in Ankara, Turkey. I was staying with an amazing host and we really connected and enjoyed each other’s company. She was taking Farsi classes at night. She had only only one key so I came back early in the evening and she left for her class. I did some work and then decided to take a nap. I hadn’t been sleeping well and I was dead tired.
Her class finished at 9pm, so she would be home between 9:30pm and 10pm. I set my alarm for 9:07pm and went to sleep on the couch in the living room at 7pm.
I woke up to some noise. I heard the door bell ringing first, and then I realized my alarm was going off. I looked at my phone and it was 10:05pm. Crap! I ran to the door hoping she hadn’t been waiting outside too long.
Before I continue, I must confess that I am a very light sleeper. That’s partly why I wasn’t sleeping well. The slightest noise often wakes me up. I noticed during my time in the oil industry, where on the rigs I never slept through the night due to the rampant noise, that my first couple hours of sleep are very deep. After that, I’m a very light sleeper.
I opened the door and there was my host with a very stern and serious face. Behind her were two men. She looked at me and said “Adam, I’m going to kill you.” She arrived at about 9:20pm. When I wasn’t answering the door, she called a locksmith fearing something happened to me. He had almost finished the process of changing the lock when I opened the door. She didn’t have enough to pay for the lock, and the Turkish Lira I budgeted for the following day, my final day in Ankara, was just enough to cover the cost of replacing the lock.
I felt horrible. Truly horrible. On one hand I didn’t blame myself too much because I set my alarm and did everything “right,” but I had caused her so much stress and worry. Now she was both angry and relieved (that I was ok). While trying to simultaneously console her and apologize, I went to the bathroom and saw that the eye mask I use when sleeping was dangling from my hair. I looked like a mess, which I guess was appropriate for the situation.
I don’t know how it all happened. I guess I was truly exhausted and my body didn’t let anything stir me from my sleep. I wish it had though. I’m always a good guest when I couchsurf and this screw up caused my host pain.
I publicly and thoroughly apologize.
Later, she asked me why I didn’t hear her calls. I don’t know why, but presumably I couldn’t hear the phone ring over the already loud alarm that was going off!
For some reason my dual sim card phone didn’t accept the Turkish sim card in slot 1. It only worked in slot 2. The phone has different ring tones for each sim card slot and I never set up a ring tone for the second slot. She gave me a test call once everything had calmed down a bit to make sure my phone was working. The ring tone was horrible. It sounded like a really, really bad disco song from the 1970s only worse. She asked me “What kind of a ring tone is that anyway!!??” It was really funny and then I knew everything was ok again.
I don’t know how I would have handled being locked out of my own home, but my host was truly wonderful all things considered. And yes, of course I paid the cost in full for replacing the lock. It was the least I could do.