July 21, 2016
It had been quite the grand European tour for Candace Low. In late June, with a six-week jaunt across the continent wrapping up in Portugal, the biologist and adjunct professor at San Francisco State University visited a remote area of a popular tourist region called the Algarve. The Algarve is full of hotels, but Low was in a coastal region called Aljezur. Much of the area is undeveloped — it’s a national park — so Low found a place to stay via Airbnb, which has hundreds of listings in the area, some for as little as $21 a night. She’d already had one less-than-stellar stay in a home rented via Airbnb: In May, early on in her trip, she found a room in a flat in Stockholm, where Low ended up hiding while her host, Ida, engaged in verbal and physical abuse with her teenage daughter while her two other daughters cried and wailed. (Ida also tried to charge her an extra 95 euro for using the fridge.) And her three-night stay in Aljezur’s Costa Vicentina — at a work-in-progress casa, with a 4-and-half-star rating — got off to a rough start. After arriving late on the first night, Low and her host, Samantha, never got along. “She did not like me from the moment I arrived and proceeded to make my stay uncomfortable,” Low later told Airbnb in an email. Relations were icy, if workable, but on the third night, June 22 — when Samantha organized a party for the other guests, a couple who are Airbnb hosts in Spain, and some volunteer workers at the property — things fell apart. Low says Samantha turned her nose up at the wine she’d brought. Then Samantha told Low — the biologist — that she didn’t believe in science. Then she started mocking Low for being from California. Finally, after a few glasses of wine and a joint, and an argument over getting more money in order for Low to use her kitchen, Samantha asked Low to leave — offering her her money back if she did. It was 2 a.m….
July 21, 2016