For those who dont know couchsurfers, its like social networking for travelers where you can fond a free place to stsy on someones couch or spare room. When I posted to couchsurfers.com that I would be in Naples in July and was looking for a couch to crash on or maybe just someone to show me around the city, I didn't imagine the droves of Italian men I would attract. It took me a little while to weed through all of the replies and after some back and forth chatting with a few I finally settled on one, we'll call him Bodyguard. He seemed nice, owned his own gym and was a phys-ed teacher for young children, and his parents were also teachers and owned a nice home in the city. Plus, and this was an important factor, he had lots of positive reviews on couchsurfers from other single female travelers.
Things started off well when he picked me up from the train station. He brought his motorbike, which I am admittedly terrified of, but I didn't really have a choice, and me and my giant backpack hopped on the back. After showing me his gym and his apartment and dropping off my stuff he dropped me off near the waterfront to take a walk around the bay while he finished work. He even gave me a spare cell phone so I could call him if I needed anything. After a few hours he picked me back up and brought me back to the apartment where he cooked me a delicious seafood pasta dish. So far, so good.
After dinner is when things got a little strange. He started coming on to me quite out of the blue and quite aggressively. I had prepared myself for something like this and was clear to him that that was not what this was about. I just needed a place to sleep and I could just as easily find a hostel if he had other ideas. When later in the evening he offered me his bed and then got pouty when I opted for the couch I had a feeling that this might not be a good situation. If I had known how strange things were about to get I would have cut and run then and there.
The next day started off fairly normal. I first went to his gym with him to get on the Internet for a bit. Suddenly I was ambushed by him and his sister. He introduced me to her as his girlfriend, which I quickly denied, thinking he was joking. When she left and he came back in he told me how happy she had been to meet me and that she would be planning a big dinner with his parents and grandparents, as everyone will want to meet his new girlfriend. Yikes! I turned to him and asked him very clearly if he understood that I was not his girlfriend. "Tell me you are joking about this whole dinner thing?" I asked. To which he answered, "Why you not want to be my girlfriend?" Oh man, I was in trouble. So I told him exactly why I didn't want to be his girlfriend ranging from I'm traveling and not interested in getting involved with anyone to you're just not my type. He seemed to accept it, or so I thought. From there we jumped on his bike and he took me to see some of the sights around Naples, driving from one hill to the next, all around the bay to overlook the city. It was really beautiful. On the way up to one of the lookout points he asked if we could take a picture together when we got there. I didn't see any harm in that. When we got to the top he asked someone to take our picture as he hugged me, a little close for my taste but whatever. But he wasn't happy with that picture because it apparently looked like I was trying to get away from him. LOL! So he asked someone else to take another picture, this time telling me how to pose. The third time he wanted to kiss me in the picture and that is where I put a stop to the madness. When I asked him what he was trying to do, what part of I'm not interested are you not understanding, the most odd thing yet came out. He wanted to have convincing pictures of the two of us to show his family at dinner so they would give him money, because apparently when he starts dating someone he gets wild amounts of cash from his family. Up to $6000! Which he offered to share with me if I played along. Whoa! Moral dilemma because I could really use money like that, but no way was I getting myself twisted up in this guys strange fantasy. This girl is not for sale! I think he was mad at me after this because he dropped me off in the middle of the city and told me to go walk around while he went to go visit his parents, hopefully to tell them the dinner was off. Again, I should have cut and run right there, but I was just thinking that it was only 3 days and I could handle it for 2 more nights.
That evening however when we met up at his place he started coming onto me again. When I told him to stop and accused him of being aggressive the shit hit the fan. He demanded to know why I didn't want to kiss him or share his bed. Why wouldn't I love him? He was in love with me and me calling him aggressive was hurtful and wrong and mean. I was a mean girl and a typical emotionless American. Can you believe this guy! So, without going into too much detail, we argued on and on for hours, neither of us truly understanding the other. He cooked dinner and I couldn't eat because I was so pissed off. So while he ate I sat in silence kicking myself for not leaving sooner. By this time it was 11PM so it was too late to do anything, but I told him I would find a hostel the next night. Then shockingly he asks me if I want to go out for a ride. Uh-no...I think I'll just go to bed. But he was persistent, so I finally caved, even though part of me was thinking he's just taking me somewhere remote to dump the body. Instead he took me to all of the romantic lookout points and even a park, where we walked around and drank caffe even though it was after midnight. One place he took me was even filled with cars with sheets pulled over all of their windows, which he explained was to block the couples inside. I thought he was joking until we passed a car that was actually rocking. I couldn't help but laugh even though I was trying to remain pissed off at him. Finally he dropped me at the apartment and said he was going to the gym. I went to bed on the couch and he didn't come back until around 6AM. At around 8AM, when I was sure he was passed out I got up and left in search of a hostel. Once I found one I returned grabbed my bags, left his keys and his phone and left. Good riddens! I got a Facebook message from him later in the day asking where I was. When I told him I was at a hostel he acted shocked, "What, you left my home!" I said "yep, like I said last night" and then unfriended him immediately.
On a brighter note the Hostel Mancini was lovely and the people really friendly. I wish I had just stayed there the whole time.
While my first experience with couchsurfers wasn't what I would consider successful, it was definitely eye-opening. It hasn't turned me off completely, but I may not try again while I am in Italy.