Casa South America

Casa South America

Dear Casa Community:

I've been dreaming for the last few years about igniting some casa-style magic in the western hemisphere. I have a sense that much of of the S.H.E. / shared hospitality / post-CouchSurfing / nomadbase energy has been concentrated in Europe. There are reasons for this, to be sure. But I've got what Curious George calls "the casa mind-virus", and it makes me wonder what else is possible.

I originally imagined something in the US, because, well, this is where I come from. But the same restlessness that makes me interested in nomadbases makes me averse to spending so much more time in a place that I know so well. And there are other reasons. Housing is very very expensive in the big US cities (like NYC). And it would be nice to be somewhere that forced english-speakers out of their comfort zone a bit. So my thoughts began to drift further south.

One thing led to another. At some point I figured out how to scam free plane tickets by beating banks and credit card companies at their own games, and booked a one-way trip to Buenos Aires for early July.

Why Buenos Aires? There's no great reason, and I'm not attached to it. It's the largest south-american city on CS by a factor of two. It's not tropical. It's a hub of international travel (land, sea, and air). I enjoyed the 10 days I spent there in 2008, and my friends who live (or have lived) there rave about it. But in the end it just seems like a good place to start the search, not necessarily to finish it.

The idea has also piqued the interest of various friends and housemates, and there now seems to be a sizable ad-hoc group planning on being present, at different points and for different amount of times, at this place that currently exists only in our minds. A nomad from Montreal (living in my co-op for the past 6 months) just set off hitching south. Two friends got a grant to produce a radio piece about the endeavor, and are using the money to fly down in mid July. Two other friends plan on being there around the beginning of september. And Curious George is heading down by boat or motorcycle or hitching in early october.

And that's where things stand at the moment. Nothing is set in stone. Maybe it will fail to start? Maybe we'll run into the casa bonita problem (too man tourists, not enough nomads)? Maybe it's naive to try to transplant such an idea without more thoroughly accounting for cultural context?

Time will tell, to be sure. But in the mean time, I'd love to hear what you have to say. Advice? Contacts? Skepticism? Optimism? Please share everything. ;-)


Sma's picture

this is gonna be a great

this is gonna be a great reason to go to SA! :)

mirtillosmile's picture

thumbs up for the adventure

wherever they will lead you. be open to the surprises and the challenges. I wish to read about the findings and he progress of the project. Keep you enthusiasm Bobby, it is a very precious, contagious and beautiful thing.

martina's picture


i have just spent 6 months in the interior of brazil and discovered a pretty strong "alternative" culture movement of travellers and locals. this sub population is formed by very many brazilians (to my ignorant surprise), many europeans, many argentinians and chileans, a few other south americans and restoftheworldians.
most used words: natural way of life, strong bond with land and agriculture, permaculture, bioconstruction, do your own, natural medicine, power plants, a variety of spiritual philosophies (mainly asian), hithhike around the continent selling necklaces, sharing. a lot of sharing coming from the fewer infrastructures and general poverty.
couchsurfing useful but tricky as people who have wide access to internet do not always coincide with people who'd be interested in the project.

just some things i noticed and may give you an idea of the differences you will encounter!
i think you'll be very happy, and i will put together some contacts
happy travels

robino's picture

Just love the no-nonsense and

Just love the no-nonsense and down-to-earth attitude of this.

Somehow (I guess because there are more people involved in setting it up) I do have a feeling this is a bit of an in-between & casa-style? I guess we will have to see how things go/ evolve. Would be awesome if you could bridge the two :-)

Sounds like a really cool adventure and I hope you can also get some of the right locals involved!

helicopter's picture


I spent enough time at PV to recognize the problems that led to its eventual collapse. In the ways that matter, we're aiming to do things casa-style.

-There won't be financial shares sold in exchange for voting rights. Rent will be taken care of a priori, a la casa.
-There won't be permanent residents. We'll try to keep experienced hosts around to hold down the fort, but turnover is important to avoid entrenching social dynamics.

The people I mentioned recognize this, and don't plan on "moving in" permanently. They're a pre-scheduled stream of nomads, priming the flow. ;-)