(CNN) — When an enormous plumbing catastrophe strikes, most Airbnb friends would pack their baggage and demand their a refund, whereas their hosts would glumly write off their earnings and attempt to neglect about it.

However for German vacationers Elke Thau-Montgomery and Rudi Thau, and their American hosts Beth Ann Moon and Jennifer Steinberg, a calamitous Airbnb scenario become a continent-spanning, five-years-and-counting friendship.

Florida-based couple Beth and Jennifer listed the residence linked to their dwelling on Airbnb for the primary time in 2017. Beth and Jennifer are homosexual, and had been cautious about homophobia from their friends (Beth jokes that she hid from the primary few bookers.)

However friends from the US and past got here and went, and largely saved to themselves.

Elke and Rudi stood out from the start. They had been pleasant and relaxed, and arrived bearing a bottle of gin as a present.

Elke and Rudi had been drawn to Beth and Jennifer’s Airbnb due to its location — close to the Everglades within the southern tip of Florida — and Beth and Jennifer’s inviting yard pool.

However what sealed the deal was the Volkswagen Beetle parked outdoors. The German couple figured anybody with a VW Beetle was more likely to be on their wavelength.

“Let’s go there, they have to be good folks,” Elke recollects considering.

When Elke and Rudi introduced their hosts with the gin, Beth went into the home and introduced out one other bottle from the identical distillery, about double the dimensions.

“We had been laughing at one another,” says Elke.

“We hit it off as quickly as they arrived,” says Beth.

The 2 {couples} ended up sitting outdoors all evening, consuming and chatting.

“It was actually the primary time that we had ever linked with folks that had been right here,” says Jennifer. “They had been similar to us, we had so many issues in widespread.”

Coping with a disaster

Beth Ann Moon (left) and Jennifer Steinberg (proper) opened up their dwelling to Airbnb friends in 2017.

J.N. Steinberg

However then a few days later, catastrophe hit. The plumbing within the Airbnb stopped working. To repair the problem, Jennifer and Beth needed to make use of emergency contractors who promptly switched off the water provide, and dug an enormous gap within the yard.

“They jack hammered the surface, as a result of the bottom is fabricated from coral rock,” explains Jennifer. “It was fairly an interruption. Elke and Rudi could not use the lavatory. It was a foul scenario.”

Jennifer and Beth had been apologetic. They anticipated their German guests could be passed by the following morning.

“Most individuals, I believe, that had been at an Airbnb would demand their a refund and demand that we get a lodge for them,” says Jennifer. “I did not know what to anticipate. And the following factor I knew, they had been in our yard constructing us a fireplace pit.”

Rudi and Elke made it clear they weren’t going wherever except Jennifer and Beth wished them to. The Germans weren’t rattled by the mishap, discovering it entertaining greater than anything.

Elke says they simply felt unhealthy for his or her hosts and their plumbing issues. The hearth pit was the primary in a sequence of type gestures that Elke and Rudi hoped would cheer up a panicked Beth and Jennifer.

And relatively than driving their friends out the door, the disaster solely introduced the 2 {couples} nearer.

“They simply grew to become our such shut associates,” says Jennifer.”They knew we had been upset. And so they tried to do issues round our home to make us really feel completely satisfied. And so they did not go wherever. They caught with us.”

An association was quickly labored out whereby Rudi and Elke may make use of loos in the primary home. Evenings had been spent sitting across the new hearth pit. The 2 bottles of gin had been emptied, as the 2 {couples} whiled away hours discussing cooking, household, travels, their respective international locations and cultures and their ideas on life, politics and friendship.

“All of us form of suppose the identical about issues — politics, cultural issues and stuff,” says Elke. “We linked and that was cool.”

Here's Elke teaching Jennifer how to make German apple strudel.

This is Elke instructing Jennifer how you can make German apple strudel.

J.N. Steinberg

Elke and Rudi had been avid vacationers who all the time greeted Airbnb hosts with heat and friendliness. However they’d by no means bonded with anybody in the best way they bonded with Jennifer and Beth.

“We did not have an expertise like this earlier than and we’re very grateful for it, to get some great associates out of that,” says Elke.

“I am going to let you know that I by no means had that have with anyone,” agrees Jennifer. “Because of our ages, we by no means actually anticipated to make such shut associates so late in life.”

As Elke and Rudi’s journey wound to an in depth, plans began brewing for Beth and Jennifer to go to Rudi and Elke in Bavaria. Earlier than the German vacationers left, the People booked flights for later that 12 months.

The foursome parted as shut associates. And as soon as Rudi and Elke had been again dwelling in Germany, Beth and Jennifer refunded their keep.

“We knew they would not settle for it if we did it whereas they had been right here,” says Jennifer.

Pals for all times

Rudi and Elke have this maypole in their backyard. It's topped with an illustration of their loved ones, including Beth and Jennifer.

Rudi and Elke have this maypole of their yard. It is topped with an illustration of their family members, together with Beth and Jennifer.

J.N. Steinberg

A number of months later, the 2 {couples} reunited in Germany like no time had handed. Jennifer and Beth liked seeing the nation by way of the eyes of people that stay there. Additionally they popped over to Austria and the Czech Republic.

“Neither one in every of us had ever been to Europe,” says Jennifer. “We have simply been seeing the world and it is due to Rudi and Elke. There’s no approach that we may have ever carried out, what we have carried out and what we have seen in Europe on our personal.”

From there, a practice was established. Each winter, Elke and Rudi spend an prolonged trip with Beth and Jennifer. And within the fall, the People return the go to.

Beth and Jennifer now not hire their area out on Airbnb — it is reserved for Elke and Rudi, plus they’ve since adopted canines.

5 years on from their first assembly, the {couples}’ family members have additionally met and bonded. Right now, Rudi, Elke, Jennifer and Beth see themselves as one prolonged, cross-continental household.

“Even after we go to Germany, their household is our household,” says Beth.

Rudi and Elke erected a do-it-yourself maypole (a tall picket pole historically utilized in European folks festivals) of their yard in Bavaria, topped with an image of their household. Naturally, Jennifer and Beth are included within the illustration.

“It is simply such a form illustration or image of our mixed cultures and the way we really feel about one another like household,” says Jennifer.

Whereas the 2 {couples} bonded from day one, they credit score the plumbing mishap for cementing their friendship, at the very least partly.

“I do not know if I can say anybody factor was the alchemy that clicked, as a result of it simply occurred. However I believe it was the plumbing,” says Jennifer. “Possibly we would be associates anyway. But when we hadn’t had a disaster to get by way of collectively, it would not have been the identical.”

“Moreover that chemistry between folks, I do imagine it is just a little bit the best way additionally we reacted to this little mishap with the plumbers,” says Elke. “Rudi and I attempted to take it with quite a lot of humor, as a result of issues occur, it is simply the lifestyle.”

Proper now, Rudi and Elke are visiting Beth and Jennifer within the US, and the group are busy planning a summer season 2023 Croatia trip. When the chums aren’t bodily collectively, they catch up by way of common video calls. They see themselves as not simply finest associates, however surrogate household.

And so they’re delighted that journey — and extra particularly, a journey mishap — introduced them collectively.

“Journey, and also you be taught,” is how Rudi sums it up.

“You by no means know who you are going to meet,” says Jennifer “Simply be open-minded, and let folks into your coronary heart. These probability encounters can change anyone’s life, and Rudi and Elke have actually modified my life. It is not all the time about romance. It is about folks and the power they’ve and the way you simply by no means know.”

Prime picture of Jennifer (prime left), Rudi (prime proper), Elke (backside left) and Beth (backside proper) hanging out in Beth and Jennifer’s yard in early 2023. Photograph courtesy J.N. Steinberg.

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