Hospitality‎ > ‎Hospitality Log‎ > ‎

The truth about the Latvian family - by Tau

posted Jul 10, 2009, 6:51 AM by   [ updated Jul 10, 2009, 7:05 AM ]
I am very sad right now, because of the way we have been handling things the last weeks. I wrote in my log why things were not the way I liked them as a result of a discussion. Ross said clearly in the meeting, that I was shouting from the top of my lungs, because we had too many people and there was even more confusion with more guests staying longer.

I want to publish this here as an example of a total failure in the hosting process, so that we can learn from it.

I understand that every type of person that requests to stay in our flat has different needs and we, when we decide hosing them, have to be aware of what we are offering and willing to give and if it corresponds with the needs.

I said that I wanted to give a SPECIAL TREATMENT to guests coming in as a family. I think this is specially needed when they have small kids.

I can only say all this after reading this very long message that Inga sent me, after I inquired on why she didnt share anything with us when visiting our place.

The result is that she had no information whatsoever about what we are, what we do and thought she was mainly bothering us and stayed outside the flat as much as she could.

I think it is important to communicate clearly to guests that we are willing to really share our lives with them and we want them to feel very conrfortable, we don't think they bother us. For this reason we need to give atention to who we accept and when, and let them know (when one is accepting) how much time will we personally have to spend with them.

So, here is her email, and below is mine. I feel ashamed for the email I sent her, but I was preocupied and curious. Of course I am going to reply and I think I should go and visit her to clear things up.


I am so sad to hear this mail from you. I think with no
bad thoughts both sided (ours and yours) haven't
understood something and it hasn't been done by any of
bad intensions.
I will describe my point of view - several months
before my visit of Berlin I already searched for the
coach in Berlin. I had two more positive answers but we
choosed Paul Bradshow because he seemed the person who
is very positive, nice and so on. We didn't mistaken,
of course, because when we met Paul on the first
evening, we all told - yes, he is the person we
thought. You were right that we didn't leave a message
but all our connection was with Paul so you can ask
Paul - I specially ordered him the T-shirt in Latvia
with special only for him meant text on it and gave as
a present to him on the only evening when we met him.
Also, I brought our Latvian traditionally made candies
for of other members living in the flat. Hope he gave
them to you also. I have also hosted several people and
always said "Yes" when I was sure that I will be able
to spend time together, show the town and share the
cultures. When we came to your flat, maybe we weren't
ready and informed till the end by Paul about the
project's meaning. Paul told that you maybe will sleep
together with some other people but when we came Paul
wasn't there and I couldn't reach him by phone all that
day and we were told - Paul has promised this room to a
lot of people, we even don't know to how many... I
thought it was not very sensitive from him also -
because we asked for a couch so early before and he
knew I will be with small child and, of course, so
full guest room with almost no free space for sleeping
is not apropriate o him. But I am not angry not at
Paul , not anyone else. It was the way it was. We told
Paul in the mails that is it OK that we will mainly be
away to spend time in Berlin and will come late and it
was OK for him.
When we arrived (Paul knew the time we will be) - there
was nobody to wait normally for us and to tell the
expectations what you are waiting from your guests. The
door was open, we went in and waited so long time for
anybody to meet us. We felt like not waited at all
there. There were another guests which told that don't
know anything. when the girl from your commune showed
me the flat, I asked several times - if there are any
other additional rules or if there any time to come too
late and so on. Nobody told a word that we expect this,
this and this like in a mail you wrote when we are
already gone. It is not very good. We comunicated by
mails with Paul, Paul was our host but no Paul during
these days.
About private room - we didn't ask for private room at
all, Paul told us to sleep there. He told to me and
my family that he has been talked to all of you and you
don't mind that we will be sleeping in this private
room. I asked him several times if anybody will be
bothered or any other problems - he told "no, you can
sleep here for these nights'. I promised him that if we
sleep in private room we will go out early and come
very late to leave you all private space at least for
all of the day. That was why we came so late and so
tired. We went early out to leave you this private
room for all day but now you are writing - you didn't
have any private space. We were not able to leave even
more earlier... Sorry.
I must confess that we were just very confused about
all the situation and didn't understood what is the
best way to act, to do and so on. But no minute and
second it was because we weren't very thankful to all
of you for the help. Just confused because Paul, the
person we contacted, was not there and I must also
confess that we haven't understood the main meaning of
your commune. From Paul I understood from the beginning
that you all are some kind of artists (painters) and
live together for some art project. Sorry very very
much for that.
The last day of Berlin we spend outside Berlin in Brand
(Tropical Islands) and we came not-planned late because
we missed the right train. We were so late back that
one of all gests opened the door and we quitly and shy
went to our bed not to wake up everybody. And next
morning we had a plane back so early we left your flat
about 5 in the morning. It was not OK to wake up
anybody. As I contacted to Paul, I wrote him a thank
you mail for everything.
If you still think that we used you in bad purpose,
please, read references left for me from the gests I
have hosted. I am always spending much time with
them, talking , taking a lift with my car, making
breakfast, dinner and so on, just in this case and with
all circumstances, we have not understood everything
till the end and as I told, it was not with any bad
thoughts an so on. Just all circumstances... When I am
hosting somebody, I always believe that this person
must feel special, must be the only one in that day to
make the attension to him, that's why I have never
hosted more than one person (or group) per one time
although I have two story house with the rooms I could
host 50 people at a time. But it wouldn't be very fair
to them, I think. I am not long time in couch.surfing
and so experienced but that is my point of view.
From my side I am not with any negative feeling in my
heart to Paul or to anybody else. We were in your
place for several days, you could tell it all also in
private - the things you need differente, because as
you can see there are a lot of things we haven't
understood or opposite - you haven't understood and I
am such type of person who like to talk straight way to
person - we can't change any thing now.

But anyway, I can tell thankyou for everything and
hope I will be able to host some day some of your
commune (or even evrybody) in my town and my house. You
are welcome.

Wishing you all good luck - Inga with family.

TAU* Wrote:
>Hello Inga,
>I wanted to contact you after you left our flat in
>Berlin, because I think there are some things that
>didn't work out very well when you and your family
>stayed with us.
>We have a hospitality and learning project where we all
>share almost everything. We do this intentionally
>because we are happy to learn from our guests and to
>share with them. Hosting guests is about sharing some
>days together.
>Ever since we started running this project, back in
>February, we have had no guests like you. I feel like
>we didn't spend enough time together and I wish I could
>at least have had the chance to meet everyone in your
>I think, as a guest, it is important to acknowledge to
>your hosts, no matter if they are 1 or 10, because they
>are all giving something to you. I tried to let you
>now, that we were willing to share some time together
>and I understand that you were tired, but I am very sad
>that I couldn't talk to any of you.
>Until now we have always had people who wanted to cook
>for us 1 meal, to share something about their cultures
>or at least come to us and explain what they have been
>visiting in Berlin.
>On th other hand, you have to know that the room you
>were occupying as a rule belongs to the residents of
>our flat, who do not have any chance to get privacy
>(because we al sleep in a dorm and work in the same
>room). It was given to you and your family for one
>night as an exception because we had too many guests in
>the same day, and there wasn't enough space in the
>living room for 12 people. The living room is the place
>where guests usually sleep, including groups and
>To top it all, nobody of this flat heard from you when
>you left, and I think it's quite rude to disappear from
>your host's place without saying goodbye or even
>leaving a note. It makes us feel like you are a free
>hostel, and the fact is that we are paying the hosting
>expenses with our own money, if you know what I mean.
>I am not satisfied with the experience and I wanted to
>know if you have any explanation or similar views on
>our time together in the flat.
>Also I wanted to do this before I would leave any kind
>of reference in your profile.