Quito, Ecuador

I have to admit that I hit the ‘Couchsurf with me’ button as soon as I saw that they keep llamas at the place we were looking to couchsurf in Quito.

“Llamas?! How cool! How… South American!” I squealed with delight.

Visions of ourselves frolicking on top of llamas in high Andean meadows quickly came to mind. The fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any pictures of anybody riding a llama completely eluded me at this point.

Well see, one of the benefits of Couchsurfing is to learn that sometimes stereotypes and assumptions that you harbor are just flat out wrong. In our case, it includes animal-related stereotypes.

At our couchsurfing host’s place I learned that :
– Llamas don’t only spit at you, they also sneeze at you.
– Llamas can’t carry more than 100 lb of weight on their back.
– Llamas are… well, they do nothing much than stand there with their big dewy eyes. They’re kind of boring that way.


It's not you, it's me

Fortunately, after getting over the shock of my dashed dream of riding on the back of a llama (I might be short, but no way I’m 100 lbs), we found many things to occupy us at the farm. We did many things for the first time there, things such as:

Shearing a sheep

Shearing a sheep

Ok, we didn’t actually shear a sheep, but we did help hold one down.

We were amazed at how thick the wool was (and how oily), which of course resulted in a very naked and pathetic looking sheared sheep.

Milking a goat

Milking goat for the first time

Milking goat for the first time

Jack learned to milk a goat and we both learned how big goat’s nipples are – they’re a handful and feel all rubbery. Like squeezing deflated rubber balloons.

Curious to know what a fresh goat milk tastes like? Very similar to cow’s milk actually. It quickly gets ‘goat-y’ within a couple of hours though. Then, then it’s not so good. (The smell reminds me too much of goat fat – see below)

Preparing animal skin for tanning

Drying rabbit skin

Fresh rabbit skin with a layer of salt to dry it out, by Jack

Lots of elbow grease. Lots of stink. I walked around smelling like goat fat for days after spending hours scraping fat off recently dried goat hides. Jack had the privilege of nailing fresh rabbit skin onto a board to dry. I didn’t envy him.

And best of all, playing with a baby goat

Goat and I, lounging in the hammock

Goat and I, lounging in the hammock

Baby goats vs llamas? Baby goats win by a mile. The baby goat at the farm, (called Goat), was too adorable to be described properly. Goat acted like a puppy, would head butt you to get attention – and when he was feeling particularly excited (like when he saw his bottle), he’d do this little skip and jump on the air.

Whenever he sees someone in the hammock, Goat would try to climb in and snuggle with you.
SO cute!

We’ve been a big fan of couchsurfing

We love the idea, the spirit, and the community. And we learned things we would not have learned otherwise. Things like how stinky fresh animal hides can get, especially when they’re wet.

And other things like:

How much I love peeking into stranger’s pantry to find out the local’s delicacies. Like these fried ‘fat-arsed’ ants.

How much I love browsing our host’s book collection and finding common interest.

How a house in rural San Gil, Colombia turned into a Discovery Channel – Extreme Insect Edition at night.

And how we adapted to sleeping and living with nightime flying creatures (tip: the light in the bedroom has to be the last one to be turned off)

How it feels to be a part of community that’s based on trust. We feel very honored everytime someone shares their house with us, complete strangers.

And how much I want to have a baby goat if we ever own a farm.

Tell us: If you’ve couchsurfed before, what have you learned from the experience?