Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Shame of Albuquerque

I did NOT have a pleasant couchsurfing experience in Albuquerque. Let me tell you about my CS host, Amanda. I found her on and from her profile she seemed to be relatively normal. Our few phone calls didn’t set off any red flags either. Staying with Amanda was such a bizarre experience that I feel compelled to write this blog about her…

So I showed up at her house at about 8pm Thursday night. She lives off of a main street right in the city; her house number was missing so I had to do a few drive-bys before I was pretty certain I was at the right place. I called her after I pulled into the driveway to make sure I was in the right spot before I knocked on the door. She answered the phone as she stepped out of her front door to look at me and said “did you just call to make sure this was the right place?” – I laughed a little and said “yeah” – she laughed sarcastically, hung up the phone and shut the front door. This is my first impression of Amanda.

I’m certainly not a high maintenance couchsurfer, but I do expect a little bit of friendly hosting. Couchsurfing is a community after all, a network of individuals who enjoy meeting new people and engaging in conversation…

I got to the front door moments after my arrival and knocked on the door. From behind the door I heard her giving stern commands to her two pitbulls and it took her a whole minute to come to the door. Once I entered her apartment I was speechless - I had nothing to say that wasn’t offensive – her interior d├ęcor and personality alike were incredibly off-putting. She meandered between her kitchen and dining room half talking to herself. She didn’t offer me a drink or a seat. She didn’t bother to ask me about my roadtrip either, instead I just listened to her senseless rambling. I followed her into her kitchen where she opened the fridge and started to tell me what she had for dinner. She said “I have lettuce, onion, turnips, radishes, beets…” Then she looked at me like that any of that sounded appealing. I jumped in, suggested that we get take-out or go out to eat and added in “my treat” when I sensed her hesitation.

We got into her stinky car (not quite week-old-burrito-left-in-car stinky, but close to it) and cruised around the city in search of a traditional New Mexican restaurant. She was kind enough to drive me through the main strip of Nob Hill (the hip area) and pointed out places of interest. Personally I thought this entire “hip area” was a pawn shop short of a ghetto. We cruised through another neighborhood and she pointed out that we were driving through Vietnamese gang territory. Then she said something to the effect of “I have no concept of when I should be afraid of something” and said she wasn’t sure whether this neighborhood was okay to drive through.

We arrived at a Mexican restaurant and sat down in a booth in the bar area. This restaurant was a real gem. For example, the booth and the walls were both covered with dark red crushed-velvet material. She said “hi” to a few characters that we passed and gave a big hug to an 80-year old man (who apparently had drunk-dialed her the night before.) After we sat down a friend of hers came by our table to say “hi” and a pair of boxer shorts fell out of his jean pant leg. Another guy in the restaurant pointed this out and her friend, embarrassed, denied it – it was very awkward. The wait staff noticed this too, but just left the underwear there. Gross.

Somehow I still had an appetite and ordered enchiladas – a shredded beef one and an adovada one (not to be confused with avocado.) We got chips and salsa to share and immediately Amanda put honey in the salsa - and not just a drop or two of honey, she put in about three tablespoons of honey in the salsa. I don’t think she noticed that I stopped eating the salsa; I don’t think she cared. When the food came she asked to have a bite of my enchiladas, which is fine I guess…so then I ask for a bite of her food and she said “well that’s the point” with a snobby, matter-of-fact tone. When the bill came I paid for it and she said absolutely nothing – no thank you, no ‘oh that’s not necessary’, nothing – apparently my mentioning of “my treat” was an open and shut case.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful, yet remained odd. She decided to watch a Netflix movie (Son of Rambow) and invited one of her friends over. She made these decisions with no buy-in from me; I felt as though I wasn’t even there. She was considerate enough to offer me a bed sheet for the couch; she would have offered that I stay in the guest room, except there was a litter of kittens in there. So I slept on the couch, with one eye open, and woke early in the morning.

I was anxious to get out of the house and out of Albuquerque. I decided to grab a little wifi at her house before I left so that I could research what to do on my drive to Phoenix. As soon as I turned on my computer I heard Amanda open her bedroom door. She walked from her room to the bathroom NAKED. That was the last draw for me; I packed up my computer and got the hell out of there, leaving behind a note that said “Thanks for the couch”.


  1. I don't know Al... I think you might be getting uptight from all this traveling. I don't see anything wrong with Amanda.