Couch-surfer travel-log

Socialist Dreams and Beauty Queens: A Couchsurfer’s Memoir of Venezuela by Jamie Maslin is fascinating travel log through what is now considered one of the most dangerous countries in South America. According the U.S. State Department travel website, “Violent crime is a serious problem, and the capital city of Caracas has been cited as having one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world. Kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country. Scheduled air service and all-weather roads connect major cities and most regions of the country.”

 
This makes James Maslin’s account of traveling as a "couch surfer” all the more fascinating. Couch surfers basically appeal to strangers via Internet sites to be a house guests for a few days. As strange and dangerous as it seems, thousands do it and seem to enjoy it. They claim to form lasting friendships. I think it sounds like an invitation to rape, robbery, and other mischief, but I am not a roughing-it type of traveler.
 
Maslin’s book is his account along with his observations of Venezuela’s politics as he travels though the country. He sees amazing sights and meets some real characters. If he sounds daft, he isn’t – at least not completely. He is somewhat careful not to be robbed or killed. He checks out the backgrounds of the people he stays with by viewing their Internet profiles and chatting with them. And, barring a couple of rather dirty homes, he has come to little harm and meets some nice people. It is interesting to note the bad housekeepers are not natives, fellow foreigners.
 
Maslin describes visiting amazing natural wonders such as the breathtaking AngelFalls, the world’s highest waterfall. And of course he also does these trips on a shoestring – and therefore is subject to peril.
 
Maslin is quirky. As an avid traveler, I enjoyed reading his adventures, but I will not be couch surfing any time soon. In spite of Maslin’s endorsement it sounds like risky business to me. Any real traveler, as opposed to a tourist, will enjoy this tale for its sheer joie de vivre!
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