Discover home exchange stories from our members.

Yvonne and Mike, are back in the skies and this time went to Cuba. Once again they were kind enough to share their experience while on an exchange.

When we began to plan a month long trip to Cuba, it was only natural to turn to HomeExchange to arrange our accommodation. Knowing how challenging it is for Cubans to leave the country, we were surprised to find there were still six homes listed in Havana.

Varinia’s apartment in the heart of the Old Town seemed the perfect base from which to explore the city and experience real, local Cuban life. Unfortunately, her apartment wasn’t free for the time we needed, but Varinia said it would be nice to meet up and help us with any questions we had about the city. And so we found ourselves in Havana – a city that’s relentlessly photogenic. Colourful, American 50’s convertibles parked next to historic European-style plazas.

The maze of streets buzzed with color and sound – Latin music spilled from every other doorway or window. It felt surreal meeting Varinia in the Cafe El Escorial in the Old Square Plaza Vieja – having only communicated through a series of instant messages, but now, here in the flesh with her mother and boyfriend.Thanks more to their excellent English rather than our basic Spanish, we spent a memorable afternoon, sharing details of our respective home lives – the subtle nuances that you miss as a tourist.

Our trip to Havana was deeply enriched by our linking up with Varinia and her family.
HomeExchange and organizations like them, exemplify the best of the sharing economy. They offer more than just an inexpensive way of travelling, they offer us the opportunity to create new friendships through shared interests. It takes a certain person to be interested and willing to open up their homes, and these are often, the most open-minded, positive and welcoming people you can meet.

Although we couldn’t swap with her this time, she invited us for a drink on her apartment’s balcony one evening when it was vacant. A taste of Cuban life that would never have happened without HomeExchange.

Varinia hopes to study English in Toronto and would love to link up with someone there on GuestToGuest.

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