Now, it has been a while since I’ve last wrote about one of my eventful, often very bizarre, travel stories. I apologize for the delay, but anyway, it’s back…and fiercer than before! 😉 For those of you who missed my first story, you check it out here. Any case, let’s get to today’s tale!
Crazy Travel Stories #2: That One Time with a Creepy Liar…
Back in March when I was still living and teaching in France, I visited the south of France on one of my weeks off from work. I had spent the week touring the bottom half of the country, beginning with Montpellier, passing through Nîmes, Arles, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence before finally ending in Marseille (which I’d written about before in this post), the largest city in France known for its Mediterranean climate, beautiful ports, and notorious mafia activity during the night (in fact, the city is known to be the most dangerous in France. Go figure).
Before arriving in Marseille, I had requested a stay on Couchsurfing, and received an offer from a host (let’s call him “Nigel”), whom I accepted after reading up on his References on his profile to make sure that he was legitimate and not someone potentially dangerous (I’m always good with using my judgment when staying with a stranger). With that, I was on my way!
I arrived in Marseille late in the afternoon, close to evening, and from the train station walked over to Nigel’s flat. Was bit of a workout climbing the hills with my heavy travel bag, but eventually I made it to his place. I rang the buzzer of his apartment building, and was invited in. Climbed the stairs to the top, where he was waiting for me. He greeted me with a handshake (very formal, if I do say so myself), and showed me in.
His flat was pretty old, with creaky floors and equally-creaky doors, which required a bit of a push and shove to open. Nigel had me put my stuff in the corner of his living room, and I got settled in shortly. Although I was quite hungry after being out all day, I was too polite to ask him if we could eat dinner soon. But I did ask him if he was hungry (I certainly was), as a way of *subconsciously* asking about dinner, and he said that usually he would eat around 21h00, sometimes 22h00 (late for me, as I tend to eat around 18h00).
Any case, we sat down on his couch and talked for a bit, on various topics like literature, culture, and the city of Marseille itself. Conversation went pretty well, although one thing that definitely made me a bit weirded out was when he would stare *very intently* at me when I would speak, as if boring his eyes into my head. True, it’s normal to regard someone when having a conversation, to show that you’re paying attention, but his look was too much, and I admit that I did feel uncomfortable as a young woman, especially when he was a much older, middle-aged man.
We ended up having dinner around 20h30, in which he whipped up a quick, simple meal of rice and codfish. Had some baguette and rosé wine to go along with it, and while not that fancy, I was nevertheless fine with it- considering that I was starving beforehand, I was happy enough to have food in my system.
More conversation afterwards, and I did start to notice some weird things from my host. As always, he still stared at me quite strangely (which back then I just brushed off as an odd, but harmless quirk), but also he would constantly interrupt me when I tried speaking to say something else, which got somewhat annoying. And perhaps I did overwhelm him a bit with my excitement of being in Marseille, as I was proposing to him things we could do during my three-night stay, such as visiting Vieux Port or hiking the calanques, as he did seem a bit not-so-enthusiastic about it, but overall, I did not feel quite at home in his place.
Eventually, we turned in for the night; I took his living room, and he provided me a mattress to sleep on while he retreated to his bedroom across the hall. Went to sleep, and woke up early the next morning to start my first day in Marseille.
However, things turned for the worse: I was in the middle of washing my face when Nigel knocked on the bathroom door and then, without my permission, barged in on my soapy face saying that I can’t stay with him anymore, because there was a sudden “family emergency” (aka his aunt died)and he needed to leave Marseille to go attend to the funeral services and whatnot for the next two days.
Of course, I was in disbelief, because I hadn’t even stayed with him for twenty-four hours yet, and now he was kicking me out. And as soon as I heard about his “family story,” I was extremely suspicious of it. Should have mentioned this earlier in the post, but before I had accepted his offer to stay with him, I had read through his References and, while eighty percent of them were positive, there were two reviews that definitely raised some red flags for me:
One of them read that, while Nigel was a nice man, she couldn’t feel completely comfortable with him, as she, like me, would notice him staring at her strangely while she talked, and experienced the following day him touching her on the back of the neck, which definitely sounded really creepy to me. Another review came from another girl, who said that, upon arriving in Marseille and after talking to Nigel for a few minutes, she was unceremoniously kicked out of his place, due to– you guessed it– a “family emergency.” Jesus Christ…
*another thing that I noticed in all of his References were that he only accepted women to stay with him; I did not see any guests who were men on his Profile. Which might not mean a whole lot, but regardless still very odd…*
So with that context in mind, I knew that he was lying to me; I probably wasn’t a guest he was expecting (although still to this day I have no idea what could have caused him not to let me stay. Aside from some awkward conversation, I didn’t think that it went badly), and he just didn’t want me in his house for more than one night. Any case, I had no choice but to pack up my bags and leave. As he was showing me out, he said that he was sorry for doing so (“sorry,” my ass), and said that his grandmother was very old, and he needed to go care for her. His grandmother. Just a few minutes ago, he said that he needed to tend to the death of his aunt, and now he’s changing the family member in his story?! In that instance, I knew then that he was definitely telling a big, fat lie. Plus, he brought absolutely nothing with him for his trip over to his family’s place near Aix-en-Provence (where he said he was going). No suitcase, no backpack, no anything. Just himself. What a dirty, dirty liar…
Of course, I was angry, but I didn’t show it. True, he did help me put down an “Emergency Couchsurfing” message for those who, like me, were homeless in a new, unfamiliar city, but I was certainly not very happy that he decided to dump me on the streets with little warning, and then proceed to lie to me. Then again, after the uncomfortable conversations during the previous night, I was also kind of relieved to be out of his place, as I probably wouldn’t have stand staying with him for an extra two nights.
We part “amicably,” shaking hands and going our separate ways. I caught him looking back at me when we were a good distance apart, probably to check that I wasn’t following him. Not that I gave a damn anyway…I was definitely stressed out trying to find another Couchsurfer to stay with in Marseille, and spent the whole day trying to find alternates while at the same time exploring the city on foot (which turned out to be quite lovely despite being, well, homeless). I did receive some offers, but none convenient enough; in the end, I checked myself into a hostel, which turned out to be very nice and a relief from everything. Ahhh…
Anyway, that’s my story of Nigel, the creepy liar from Marseille. Hope that you found it entertaining (I admit, it’s definitely a story to tell!), despite my occasional ramblings. There are plenty of more crazy travel stories to come on this blog, so stay tuned! Until then. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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