Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Exchange, Part Don't

photo: Nathalie Dulex
One happy morning a while back, I got an email from a family in Switzerland who wanted to know if we would like to exchange our home with theirs for a year. Their home is set in an Alpine hillside, overlooking a small town in the Valais region of Switzerland (think thermal baths and chocolat chaud), and from the pictures it looked to be right out of a postcard. Originally we hadn't really wanted to exchange in a French speaking country since I already speak French, but these people were very interested and they had contacted us, so we decided to pursue it. We looked up information about the locale and decided it would be quite nice, and I emailed back that yes, we would like to exchange with them as well. Over a series of emails back and forth, the woman and I chatted about one of my favorite meals called Raclette, a Swiss cheese that is melted on a special table-top cooker and then traditionally served over boiled potatoes with sausages and pickles on the side. She proposed a date beginning November, 2008. I accepted, and we exchanged photos of our respective Raclette cookers. She replied that actually January 2009 would be better for her family, and I accepted again, even though we would be cutting the year short to return in August for the kids to start school the following year. She sent me links to local restaurants, but then said that actually, January 2009 would still be bad and that August 2009 is the earliest they can exchange. What?! We had made it very clear from the beginning that we wanted to be back in the states by August 2009, so this was not going to work, even though I had developed a serious Raclette jones. Sadly I said no, but I was mad about it because she had made the offer to me, not the other way around. She was the one who proposed the dates, and we shuffled our plans around to accommodate her. Twice. This ordeal left a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole home exchange process, but I was able to get rid of it with a good meal of...yeah, you guessed it.

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