Couchsurfing With Llamas and Goat

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. (Learn about couchsurfing).

“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.

Llama
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?

36 Replies to “Couchsurfing With Llamas and Goat”

  1. Hello you two.
    hope things are going ok.
    happy to see your blog entry and even on couchsurfing.

    all that reminds me that you didn't leave a reference on cs – any reason for that?

    good times
    ingo

  2. I couchsurfed in France a couple of years ago during a three week travel stint while living in Germany. Our first host was a young American who lived just a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower. What a prime location! The apartment was exceptionally small, especially for our host and four traveling girls. The most interesting part of the experience was that there was some weird issue with the hot water in his shower and in order to take a shower you had to turn on the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, then the water heater pilot light, and finally you could turn on the shower. Once the shower was running you could go back through the apartment and turn off the other faucets. A memorable experience indeed!

  3. Couch surfing is great! You meet awesome people and have really unique experiences like you had with llamas. I stayed at a place with roosters and chickens once while biking the length of japan. Although cute, they also decided it was time to cockadoodle-doo well before it was actually sunrise. :-/ Win some, lose some I guess. Thanks for the post!

  4. I love Couchsurfing! When I host, I discover how weird people can be, but I've also learnt how generous and hospitable people can be when I travel. I love the sense of community and how it's ok to trust strangers some times.

  5. How freakin' cute is that goat in a hammock picture!? Wow, you've had some interesting experiences. The place I'm living in Colombia has a farm and I haven't done any of these things…although they don't have any goats or llamas. My parents stayed on a farm with llamas in New Zealand a few months ago. They brought back photos and Oscar and Jimmy were definitely cute. I'm not sure if goats would win out for me or not. I think not??

  6. Wow! Our first and only (so far) couchsurfing experience seems boring now compared to your excursion with goats! We also love the idea of couchsurfing and will be signing up to repay our karmic debt whenever we get back to the U.S.

  7. Sounds like an awesome experience! I love the philosophy behind couchsurfing too – what have I learnt? That people can be kind, generous and hospitable without any ulterior motives.

  8. Hammocks and baby goats – sounds like an adventurous children's book title.
    Glad to hear your positive and reassuring words on couch surfing – seriously considering experiencing both sides (hosting as well as being a guest) in 2011.

    1. It does sound like a book title. Give CS a try. It's not for everyone but you'll never know unless you try. Just remember that you don't have to say yes to every request 🙂

  9. This sounds awesome and gets us totally excited for our first couchsurfing experience next week!! We will actually couchsurf twice, for the first time ever, but I don't think there will be llamas or baby goats 😉

    1. How exciting! I remember the first time we went CS-ing, it was in Alaska and we didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be awesome. Hope you guys will have a good time!

  10. That's DEFINITELY a couch-surfing experience you won't be forgetting in a hurry haha. I couchsurfed on Koh Tao for a few days and it was GREAT! Wish we'd had a baby goat though =)

    1. All of our couchsurfing experience in South America have been quite unforgettable actually. Each in their own way 🙂

  11. This post has at least two of my favorite things in the world: CS and Llamas. Llamas are part of the camelid family and I don't appreciate that you called them boring. I sent an SMS to my friend Clyde (he is a camel) and he didn't like it either. Other than that this is an excellent post. I am a CS evangelist myself and I love hearing stories like this. Your experience is also really unique, what an awesome cs experience! One other thing, I think you make an unfair comparison between baby goats and llamas. Usually "baby" anything is going to win out against an adult opponent if we are talking about likability, cuteness, cuddly factors. Try comparing a baby llama with a baby goat and see what happens. I do like goats, though. I have been reading a forum called the goat spot recently and it's all about goat breeding and goat ownership. Very interesting.

  12. We couchsurfed in Ireland but there was NO baby goat there!

    I have always wanted a goat, blame it on spending a few years in the middle of nowhere Idaho as a kid but you have reminded me of it now! Goat looks like such a cutie!

  13. Cuddling with a baby goat in a hammock has got to be the best thing ever. Hands down, no contest! Unless you were cuddling with TWO baby goats… and a puppy and a kitten in a hammock. 😛

  14. We were couchsurfing hosts in Seattle before our career break. When we were traveling, we seemed to be going too fast to couch surf until we got to Ireland. Wow, what a great place to couchsurf! We stayed with some really interesting and nice people, all of whom shared their favorite pub with us. They told us stories and best of all, gave us some great travel advice which actually changed our path and we think made it so much better.

  15. Likewise a major Couchsurfing aficionado here (since 2008, username: globerover – what's yours?) Indeed, CSing may well be THE answer to World Peace – bringing people together and dispelling stereotypes (such as err… galloping on the back of a llama!) 😉

    Love the pics – looks like you struck CSing gold there in Quito. Though I admit I don't have any goats for you to cuddle with, if you ever need a "couch" (in Seattle, else soon, Vietnam) – I promise I'll personally introduce you to treasure hunting (a.k.a. "geocaching").

    1. Whoa, thanks for the offer, and I'll definitely take you up on that one day – have been interested in learning about geocaching for awhile.

  16. I've never couch surfed before (through the website anyways), but we do have a couch lined up for the first stop on our RTW in 2 weeks. Goat looks cute, reminds me of my cat, laying on my stomach and raining down headbutts to get attention. I suppose that will become a problem when goat starts to grow horns.

    1. Wow, you guys are leaving in 2 weeks? Crazy!

      They had some grown up goats at the farm and they still head butt us (affectionaly) but you're right, it feels more like a punch in the butt. They don't know their own strength.

  17. I haven't couchsurfed yet, but I am determined to try it at least once on my next overseas trip. I've read good things about the experience. I'd offer up my own couch, but let's be serious, who visits Detroit? (It's really not that bad, but it's too late for me to start convincing people of that)

    1. Lol, I'm with you. We used to live in a beach town in South California and get requests all the time. Now that we've moved the Bay Area (it sounds cool – only 40 minutes from San Francisco – but it's still 40 minutes away), we barely get any requests. So sad.

      In terms of good experience, I've read some unpleasant stories as well – but most can be prevented by utilising CS' vouching method. We never surf with those with next to blank profile write up.

  18. Great post…thanks for sharing! So excited for you guys…you're actually living your dream…right now! Awesome:) the photos are great, and I agree Jill, the baby goat is the cutest!

  19. Sounds like this couchsurfing experience was a real winner. Love the pictures. I also enjoy checking out someone's books – right off the bat you have an idea if you have similar interests.
    I haven't couchsurfed but I've hosted 4 travel bloggers in the last two weeks.

  20. I often find myself asking to stay with the most interesting. Think they'll have goats in Dublin? Or in my hometown of Chicago?

    Love reading about your trip, finally! Safe travels.

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