A Long Time Scout Goes Couchsurfing – Jon Aspinox Writes

A Long Time Scout Goes Couchsurfing

This was a piece I guest-wrote for Couchsurfing.org‘s Tumblr, during my trip round the Americas in the summer of 2013. I hope you enjoy it!

I didn’t leave the United Kingdom with the intention of changing my life. I didn’t dream of VW Campervans or vintage-effect photos on Instagram. I don’t even really like the term ‘traveler’.

I am, first and foremost, a scout.

I am one of over 30 million members in 161 countries who are focused on helping turn young peopleinto the most awesome adults they can be.
So I talked to local scout groups about connecting with foreign groups by swapping neckerchiefs.By meeting Scout groups in Mexico, the USA and Canada, we could swap neckerchiefs, contact details and ideas in the hope that one day those young people might find themselves in a foreign country, staying with a friend from thousands of miles away.

On the way, I hoped to stay with local scout groups. I used Couchsurfing to find hosts and Scouting contacts to find the rest. The people I met changed the trip immeasurably.

These incredible people had jobs doing ordinary things; raising families or studying for degrees. They were willing to say hello and take me into their homes.

Whether Couchsurfers or Scouts, they shared the innate curiosity and generosity you need to host a stranger in your home.

Victor in Playa del Carmen worked in the cable industry and wanted to know what people from the UK were like.

Mariana and Carina in Mexico City were students at university, but they were also Rover scouts who took me to see their Scout CabaƱa.

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My host Julie in Calgary, during our day of helping people to clear out their basements after the floods.

Karin Oxtoby (happens to have the same surname as me) works and hosted me in Dallas. Her sister, Julie, is now extending me the same courtesy in Calgary, Canada.
With Couchsurfing, I have been able to find the joy in the ordinary, the special in the normal.

I helped a rover scout raise money to build toilets and helped sort recycling at local schools. I fired rockets with cub scouts in Los Angeles and celebrated my birthday with Mexican folk dancers in Chiapas.

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Carina, Palmis and Mariana, my guides and hosts round Mexico City!

I’ve lost a water fight with an entire Little League Baseball team, and met the Chief of all Scouting in Mexico. I drove the Pacific Coast Highway listening to country music and the streets of Cancun with S Club 7 on the radio.
And not one sepia photograph. Instagram knows nothing of my travels.

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