Monday, November 30, 2009

On Swapping Homes

A number of years ago, more than a dozen now, a friend inquired at a basketball game of Kate's, if we'd ever considered swapping our home. I said no I hadn't and wasn't sure I'd want to. "Well," she said, "this very nice family from France wants to visit and we're already going to Spain."

She gave me the website and I told her to take a look. And I did. I saw this crumbling French farmhouse, surrounded by wheat fields and a garden that seemed to be from Eden. A vision from Manet.

So we made an exchange with the Massons, our first exchange family. We met the Massons in Paris over an espresso and croissant. They handed us the keys to their son's apartment in Paris, to their farmhouse in the Loire, and to the Renault. We gave them a Metrocard, a subway map of NY, and the keys to our house. That was it. We said good-bye.

This was the beginning of what has become more than a dozen exchanges for us. France, Belgium, Catalonia, San Sebastian, Florence, Todi, County Clare. We have lived in all of these places. One of our most recent swaps was to a second home of a Madrid family. It was by the sea in a place called Mojacar. Mojacar is a white washed city where Arabs, Jews and Christians once all got along. It is a steep and hilly place and was difficult to navigate with my broken leg, which I had at the time. But I loved being by the sea and a part of me felt as if this was where I belonged.

I will share more stories on Mojacar and our house swaps from time to time. But we like to live in a place when we go there and we have lived in all of these. I am happy to talk about house swaps with anyone who wishes to engage me. I believe more and more that it is the way to go. Especially with a family.

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