In a Country Experiencing Political Unrest Near My Airbnb

I’m in an African country that is having current political unrest because of upcoming elections — sort of like the U.S. After a day or two at the location, I started hearing shooting and what sounded like bombs going off, as well as tear gas right outside of the Airbnb I’m staying in. It sounded like a war zone outside the door and I was told by security not to try to go to the main road because the police were arresting people.

I contacted Airbnb support (while there were loud explosions going on in the background that the agent heard for herself) and they assured me they would try to help me find other accommodations (full disclosure: I do not want to spend any money to book another accommodation as I still have more than three weeks left on this one).

What I requested is that Airbnb make an exception under their Extenuating Circumstances Policy as part of the “political unrest, riots” clause. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Airbnb is a multi-million dollar company and I have just recently booked two other places in another city. Apparently, their concern for guests is superficial, at best.

I also believe that if I had been a Caucasian woman fearing for my safety in an African country, Airbnb would have acted with much more of a sense of urgency. I think because I am not, they figured I would be fine and didn’t seem to be that concerned. There is no other explanation I can come to since I’ve provided video of smoke and police converging on the area outside my Airbnb location and also a U.S. embassy security warning sent to my email the day after the first protests started. And yet, I still haven’t heard anything from Airbnb and my supposed case manager.

Mental Health: Airbnb Doesn’t Put your Safety First

This is a long post with a very disturbing video and story.

My husband and I arrived to an Airbnb host’s free backyard cottage on Thursday, January 23rd Around 9:20 PM. All went as planned as far as going in the backyard and finding the key in the shed behind the main house just as the owner’s form message instructed. The accommodations were exactly as described, very clean and very cute.

At 8:00 AM the next morning, a woman came to our door and began to rattle it very hard in an attempt to get in. We told her several times that we were in there and she responded with, “ha ha ha ha ha ha” and then screamed, “YOU SCARED ME!” We again said we were in there and she began to yell at us: “Don’t stress, don’t stress.”

She then returned to the main house. A few minutes later I heard a very disturbing and very loud scream from the house. Shortly after the young woman came outside wearing a dress and a towel wrapped around her shoulders/head. She had a hammer and a wicker cylinder shaped basket of some sort.

She then began to hammer the basket very loudly and aggressively on the concrete patio located less than ten feet from where we staying. At one point she took a break and she turned around as if she were looking at the neighbor’s house and gave them the finger. It was at this point I told my husband that we were not staying here another night and that we were leaving ASAP.

We quickly packed our things and took them to the car parked in front of the main house. As we put our luggage in the trunk we saw the curtains move in the front window. Suddenly, the woman in the house threw her face against the glass and started shrieking violently and making pain-filled faces. She was yelling inaudible things through the glass.

She then opened the screen-less window and it was clear that we were not dealing with a mentally healthy person. She told me that I smelled bad because I smelled like lanolin. There were several other odd things said and many disturbing screams.

I then got my phone and made a video and asked if she was okay. She defensively and calmly said she was fine and I asked if she was the host. She replied with, “F$%k no, she doesn’t live here but I bet she didn’t tell you that she had a mentally ill daughter.”

She then let out another super disturbing scream, horror movie style. I turned off my camera and she continued to flip us off and scream viciously as we pulled out of the driveway.

We never provoked her. We never spoke with her other than when she was trying to force herself into our locked room and when I took the video. We were just grateful that she didn’t display this behavior in the night and we didn’t have have time to properly respond.

Our biggest concern was our safety and hers. We contacted her mother via private message. The host responded quickly and wrote, “She has been stable for a week but apparently is not any longer.” According to a standard issue form message to her guests, the host is a traveling musician and is always looking for gigs in other people’s homes.

The host gave us our money back and Airbnb, while initially unresponsive to my urgent email, did handle things very smoothly and efficiently once I called them. The company canceled our reservation and refunded our $280 in record time.

During our phone call I asked if this woman would still be allowed to host. Airbnb, who is privy to all of this information, including the DMs with the host, told us that they would go over the rules and regulations with the host. Her cottage has been pre-booked for months of January, February and March for many weeks.

As of 7:00 PM CST on January 27, 2020, this property is still booked with previous reservations and and is still accepting new ones; because Airbnb canceled our reservation and refunded our money, company policy has revoked our privilege to post a review. This also explains why 168 people have given this property a 95% positive review.

Watch the video to the end.

Posted by Dana Moxie Minetos on Monday, January 27, 2020