I thought it was odd when a pair of Venezuelans told me they wanted to crash on my couch in Cleveland since they were attending a conference so close. In Atlanta.
But, relative to Maracaibo, I figured Cleveland is close. And they are NBA fans. I know I would travel to see LeBron James if I wouldn't otherwise get the chance. They bought pricey tickets and said they were going to arrange travel plans.
I met these Venezuelans through the site couchsurfing.com. (I wrote about the couch surfing experience in August 2007, and I've been using it to travel ever since.) They seemed like great folks, so I said my couch was their couch.
A day later they e-mailed me back. They had looked on the map and saw Cleveland was only 100 miles away. Cleveland, Georgia, that is. Cleveland, Ohio? Wow that's north.
Despite that, the Venezuelans (Ricardo y Daniel) came anyway, booking a 17-hour Greyhound ride. I had to lend them ski caps. They hadn't planned on seeing snow, but got that "treat" on Sunday — they were in agreement that snow would be far better in summer temperatures. They had a great time, and I got to show them all around our city.
They said they'd return the favor if I'd like to come to South America. Don't worry. I've already triple checked. There's only one Maracaibo in Venezuela.