Home Exchanges Gone Awry

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 216Another moving day was upon us. When I planned this trip, there were two confirmed home exchanges planned, but they were not going to cover our entire stay. At the last-minute, a third exchange offer occurred, which filled our need for two weeks accommodation in Mexico City.

Then things fell apart…

The last exchange offer was going to cover our first week here. Ken sent us a confirmation and we were grateful for it. It was outside of the city center, causing us to use Uber each day, but it was free accommodations.

What was supposed to be our second exchange covering nine nights, just disappeared. It was with a young man who is an electrical engineer. For the first few correspondences, he was quite excited about the prospect of coming to Budapest in exchange for his studio apartment. Corresponding within the home exchange network has its positives and negatives. One positive is the history of correspondence is all in one place. A major negative is that a member needs to receive an e-mail from the home exchange network alerting them to a new piece of mail. Then the member needs to sign in to read it and respond. I find this time-consuming and cumbersome. Deciding it is easier to write directly, I sent Sergio my e-mail address and requested his. He did send me his home address, but not an e-mail. Follow-up correspondence was like sending letters into a black hole. There were no longer responses.

Our third exchange was with Rodrigo and his family. They were going to put us up for five nights. They had been to our place already, but had only needed one night. We felt uneasy with this inequality, but they assured us it was not an issue at all. They were all so gracious when they stayed with us we immediately embraced their warmth.

Though we were not looking forward to moving from place to place, this was how it was going to work out. However, when our middle exchange looked like it the plans were in flux, I decided we should rent one place for the entire 10 nights after leaving Ken’s. We turned to AirBnB after searching a number of different sites.

After considering it, it seemed unreasonable for us to bother Rodrigo and his family. There are five of them, but since this would be a non-simultaneous exchange, it felt like too much of an imposition. Quick to assure us it was not, we still realized that moving from one place to another took up half a day. Rodrigo owns a restaurant, so invited us for a meal. Pleased, we accepted for later in the week.

At first, our AirBnB apartment seemed like a blessing. It was downtown in the historic district making it convenient to get around by walking or taking the metros. There are twelve metro lines total and a ticket is 5 Pesos (28 cents USD). After we leave here, there will be a full post on this AirBnB experience. Stay tuned, it is a doozy!

Leaving Ken’s around noon, we took Uber to the apartment. Aldo, the boyfriend of the apartment owner met us and assisted with the luggage up the stairs. The building has two Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 224elevators, but neither work. Not paying much attention as Aldo gave a quick overview of the place and left, we followed, not wanting to waste the day.

Once on the streets, I went to snap a photo, but my camera’s message was that there was no card in the camera. Thinking I forgot it at the apartment, when I looked, the card was indeed in place. Turning the camera on and off did no good. Taking the card out and reinserting it did nothing either. There was Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 219another card at the apartment, but until I tried it, there was no way to know if it was the camera or the card. Ron seeing my disappointment shared the thought “Well, your birthday is coming up soon. Maybe you should get a new camera.” It was music to my ears. Though this camera has been great, I really wanted to get a new mirrorless camera for the weight.

For the rest of the day, I used my phone for photos. This meant far fewer photos than usual, much to my chagrin.

Christmas decorations continue to appear on the main square in front of the cathedral. So far, none of them light in the night. However, they could be waiting for all to be in place before turning on all of them at once.

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 226Having heard about SEP or Secretariat of Public Education, it seemed like an unlikely tourist stop. The secret is that there are dozens of murals by Diego Rivera covering three floors of the interior halls. There are other muralists represented, but none has reached the notoriety that Rivera achieved. Not having a proper camera dissuaded me from continuing to the second and Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 220third floors, hoping to return. In the center courtyard, the foliage is magnificently maintained and thoroughly relaxing.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.