(CNN) — When an enormous plumbing catastrophe strikes, most Airbnb visitors would pack their luggage and demand their a refund, whereas their hosts would glumly write off their earnings and attempt to overlook 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 became a continent-spanning, five-years-and-counting friendship.

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

However visitors from the US and past got here and went, and largely stored 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 night time, consuming and chatting.

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

Coping with a disaster

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 subsequent morning.

“Most individuals, I feel, that had been at an Airbnb would demand their a refund and demand that we get a resort for them,” says Jennifer. “I did not know what to anticipate. And the subsequent 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 needed them to. The Germans weren’t rattled by the mishap, discovering it entertaining greater than the rest.

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

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

“They only turned our such shut pals,” says Jennifer.”They knew we had been upset. They usually tried to do issues round our home to make us really feel glad. They usually did not go wherever. They caught with us.”

An association was quickly labored out whereby Rudi and Elke might make use of bogs 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 nations and cultures and their ideas on life, politics and friendship.

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

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 fantastic pals out of that,” says Elke.

“I am going to inform you that I by no means had that have with anyone,” agrees Jennifer. “As a result of our ages, we by no means actually anticipated to make such shut pals so late in life.”

As Elke and Rudi’s journey wound to a detailed, 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 yr.

The foursome parted as shut pals. And as soon as Rudi and Elke had been again residence 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.

Associates for all times

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

“Neither one among us had ever been to Europe,” says Jennifer. “We have simply been seeing the world and it is due to Rudi and Elke. There is no approach that we might have ever achieved, what we have achieved and what we have seen in Europe on our personal.”

From there, a convention 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 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. At the moment, 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 sort 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 partially.

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

“Moreover that chemistry between folks, I do consider it is a bit of bit the best way additionally we reacted to this little mishap with the plumbers,” says Elke. “Rudi and I attempted to take it with lots 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 time 2023 Croatia trip. When the chums aren’t bodily collectively, they catch up through common video calls. They see themselves as not simply finest pals, however surrogate household.

They usually’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 likelihood encounters can change any individual’s life, and Rudi and Elke have actually modified my life. It isn’t all the time about romance. It is about folks and the vitality they’ve and the way you simply by no means know.”

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