In September, a friend of mine, André, was in my house and showed me this blog. He told me it was the house of his friend who was hosting couchsurfers and explained briefly what he did there and with his guests. First of all I thought it was interesting. I already knew couchsurfing for some time, since the concept emerged, perhaps, but never heard of a host that made it this way. André returned to Lisbon, and intrigued, I read the blog. I do not know how much time I lost reading the entire blog, but I was doing it for a few days. Studies on the guests and their interaction with themselves and with the ambient that I read the blog where things that caught more of my attention. As an observer of people that I am, all of that sounded familiar, but in a different language, though understandable. I continued to follow the blog normally since then. 

In December I met escotilha8. When I reached av. da igreja I realized that I passed by there before for several times, what made it strange, because the area where the escotilha8 is, is an upper class neighborhood. I rang on the ground floor of No. 8 and waited. I went in and a door at the bottom of the stairs opened and I saw André, as always smiling, inviting me to come in.

I was not surprised by the confusion, clutter, or the noise of people. Whether the blog or the profile of the host are clear on that, and I also confirmed in the calender of the blog how many people would be staying that night.

- Hey, there you have the manual with the rules, you are sleeping on number 6. - Said the host, totally apathetic and neutral. 

I went ahead to see where this 6 number was and I came across with a tiny kitchen full, but really FULL of people, laughing, drinking, singing and playing instruments. 

I remember I lost a lot of time looking at the walls between smiles and laughter as I read what was written there. For those who like to observe, this house was perfect.

I was in the hatch 3 days, and I loved it. Now back to Porto to keep the packing, as I would move to Lisbon soon, according to my plans, even before i met the hatch and João.

I returned on the 30th of December in 2009, and continued here until the hatch was burned. 

I met some of the 700 guests. In the beginning (and I think almost the whole time I was there) I tried to be as invisible as possible, not only because it's very natural in me and I do it so to watch people, my favorite "subject", but also because I realized that the hatch worked for a number of variables and elements that were already structured and which, if changed, how the hatch works also would be. 

In the hatch everyone was free to do whatever they wanted. It was funny to realize that outside ( in our daily lives, in the big city, in my or in your reality) we always see huge clashes of personalities, desires, ideals, that emerge in seconds and quickly become a problem. Not here. A changing scenario, where everyone intervenes and leaves its mark and make their changes. A smile or a laugh is what more we see, 24 hours a day. People with different backgrounds, personalities, colors and shapes, and different political views coexist without any problems or altercations. I never imagined seeing anything like that. 

Not everything is roses, and this experience also served me to confirm in a way, some ideas and opinions that I had less positive about the human being:

-Gratitude or reciprocity are words that do not appear in everyone's dictionaries;
-Although they coexist well, a more spacious personality will always fall on a less spacious and shy one. What happens is that the person who is more shy and reserved doesn't get space to blossom and show what it has to give; 
-Not all contribute the same way although they are receiving exactly the same. The roof, the same bed, the same amount of food and comfort. The sharing varies from person to person.

These are some issues that make me upset. It would be expectable that a traveler or a freeloader who doesn't have shit with him would retrieve back something for the shelter, food, and comfort they have in that house. But no. People will not clean the shit they leave behind, most of them won't buy food, won't help you with cooking, or whatever. And these facts don't have shit to do with people's color, education, religion, whatsoever, in most of the times. We are all the same shit, whether you are from USA, or fuckin' Germany. And in my opinion most of the people didn't realize or gave value to what was happening in that house.

One point I want to stress is that despite the high amount of people who were daily in the house i never felt afraid to leave my stuff there, including a laptop and a camera that are valuable assets and which on the outside of the context of the hatch would be gone within minutes. 

Shortly after arriving there, the house was gradually losing its mutant character due to the growing number of regulars who lived there, me included, despite my efforts so that my presence did not affect the house. Nevertheless, this experience is one of the most interesting I had so far, and helped me to evolve, to grow up and broaden my perspective on life and in the human being, and also my knowledge. Meeting different cultures and absorb all the interesting information and conversations that where exchanged in that tiny kitchen after a good dinner and some liters of alcohol will be remembered as something good and, if possible, to repeat in the future, in another scenario. 

Last month I spent most of my days cleaning the house and destroying it. It was a task a bit heavy, because I was destroying something that was not mine, nor I had built. I am used to destroy or to let things die, but usually something I've built or lived in their full.

I'm glad my path crossed with João and the hatch, and i hope that what we've learned in the hatch will help us to bring life to our new project, which will include the involvement of more people.

Today the house is definitely closed and completely renovated for the pretty much possible new couple with a kid and dog that are going to live their meaningful life in the upper class neighborhood.

Everything is ephemeral and escotilha8 is no exception. <3


  1. geminiteam7/5/10 10:40

    thanks for sharing this story !
    sad story...
    let us never get blunted !

  2. Anonymous7/5/10 10:45

    uups, wrong story, sorry !


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