I said goodbye to Caroline, my Airbnb host from Talence, with mixed feelings. It was a mixture of shame, confusion and gratitude.
I didn’t like Caroline in the beginning. My first impression of her was that she’s a stingy, divorced 42-year-old mom of two (a 15-year-old son and a 11-year-old girl) who just rents her son’s bedroom for some extra money. This perception was formed during my first week of stay at her house: she didn’t smile much, she told me she did not know which tram ran in the neighborhood, she lied that she didn’t have oil and spices because she kept her organic food to herself, she told me she usually did not provide soap and that I should use VERY little laundry powder. Even when she invited me to join her family Christmas party at home the first Sunday after my arrival, I thought it was because there was nowhere to go otherwise.
Little by little, I realized that Caroline was actually a nice host – like what the Airbnb reviews say. Since she and her kids were staying with the grandparents for the holidays, I had the entire house by myself for over two weeks. Every few days, Caroline swung by to check on things. Seeing that I was not using the heater, changing my towels or washing my bed sheet, she encouraged me to do so. She let me know where some specific shops are, and she even tried to look for a dentist for me.
During the last few days of my stay, I saw the fun, easy-going side of Caroline. Since she came back kids-free (they were with their dad,) I figured that she was preoccupied by the kids and family before. To my surprise, Caroline treated me like her friend. She was excited that I hung out with her brother, Alexandre, and childhood friend, Olivier. When I couldn’t join her to go to Arcachón, she brought back a canelé for me. Knowing that I didn’t have any plan for New Year’s eve, she took me with her to her friend’s. She invited me to see Captain Fantastic on New Year day although she has already seen the movie. On my last day, she told me about her plan to visit Spain to see if we would meet there. She also dropped me off at the train station and when we were in her car, she started telling me about her private life.
I am glad that I had the time to get to know Caroline and change my perception on her. I am not entirely clear why she likes me, but this is another unique encounter during ChiLaTour. We did a gift exchange for the holidays; she gave me the cups shown in the photo. They change colors depending on the temperature of the liquid they hold. I usually regift things I have received to keep my backpack as light as possible. I think I will hold on to these ones for a little more. Still haven’t tried them yet.