Say you're broke (like myself) and need a place to stay in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup (also like myself). Whatever do you do?
According to a report in iAfrica.com, many backpackers and 'couchsurfers' are looking to the internet to help them combine a trip to Africa with the world's biggest football event by securing a local — and free — couch to crash on.
Count me in!!!
Anselmo Zacarias Portes, a 29-year-old marketing analyst from Sao Paulo, has already secured his couch for Africa's first World Cup with a couple from Cape Town he once hosted back in Brazil.
"I'm Brazilian and I love football but, despite this, football will not be my main attraction. Of course I want to feel the whole atmosphere of the Cup," he told AFP.
"I believe it will be an amazing experience. For us Brazilians, football is more than a sport. It's passion and love. I really would like to know how other people support their national teams" Couchsurfers should take a bit of pressure off FIFA, which is looking to ensure 55,000 rooms are available every night during the event. FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer told AFP some host cities lacked enough beds for football fans.
Couchsurfers should take a bit of pressure off FIFA, which is looking to ensure 55,000 rooms are available every night during the event.
FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer told AFP some host cities lacked enough beds for football fans.
"We expect that the supply of accommodation will meet the demand. It is simply a question of the distance an individual fan may travel to a match and the diversity of accommodation facilities that will be used."
Some fans have found couchsurfing a winning formula for getting to know the intricacies of a city during a World Cup.
Another fan from Brazil, Pedro Ivo Dantes of Rio de Janeiro, couchsurfed his way through the previous World Cup in Germany.
Reminiscing about watching matches in small gardens of old buildings in the eastern part of the city, he recalls discovering things he would never have done on his own.
"These buildings were abandoned when the (Berlin) Wall fell, and now are occupied by students, artists, immigrants, etc, that pay nothing to live there. There is a strong sense of community, everything is old but people help each other, and they seem to live happily that way.
"I expect, if I'm lucky enough, that South African couchsurfers will help me by having this kind of experience there too."
The Couchsurfing Project was started by 30-year-old American Casey Fenton in 2004, and now has 900,000 members online, seeking to connect with locals while traveling, which may or may not include free accommodation.
"Couchsurfing isn't about the furniture — it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world — it's about participating in creating a better world," reads the website mission.
To find out more, visit www.couchsurfing.com.
MY POV: I may have just found my accommodation in South Africa thanks to this web site.