It takes a certain kind of traveler to use Couchsurfing in the first place. Can you imagine high-flying Emiratis or Saudis rocking up on a stranger’s doorstep with a bag full of groceries? And then, would they be willing to give up the comfort of their elaborate villas for a couch?
Stranger things have happened and stereotypes are for the simpleminded, but even we were surprised by CNN’s report that one of couchsurfing’s most coveted couches is a cave in Petra, Jordan.
Looking more like Bob Marley than a Bedouin, Ghassab Al-Bedoul first joined CouchSurfing about four years ago. “Since I started, I think I’ve had over 1,200 people come stay at my cave,” Al-Bedoul told CNN.
“Not all from CouchSurfing, but they hear about me. It’s a pleasure to have people from all over the world to learn our culture. Just come and stay with us.”
“As you might know Bedouins are very kind people and if you are not sure about it just come and try by yourself,” he wrote on his profile.
Although visitors don’t actually get a couch (they get a thin mat instead) and toilets don’t come with the package, just about everyone who has been to the cave in which Al-Bedoul was born and raised has good things to say.
“Four friends and I spent one night at Ghassab’s cave. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I wish we had been able to stay for longer. I would go back in a heart beat!”
While most hosts limit guests to two or three per night, the cave carved into the historic pink walls of Petra accommodates up to 10 people and Al-Bedoul goes the extra mile by often cooking up a wonderful meal.
A man from Estonia rocked up at the cave when Al-Bedoul had to work, but that didn’t stop his family from showing the couch surfer a good time.
“We stayed with Ghassab’s family near Petra, and although he wasn’t present himself because of his work, his family showed us the best hospitality. The taste of fresh home cooked lavash is still in my mouth.”
He has no negative references.
But not all cave dwellers lease happy homes to Couchsurfers. There are plenty of complaints on the net. Do some research first if you are venturing out to stay in an underground cave.