Peter, a gentleman from Amsterdam, contacted me a few months back through Home Exchange. He asked to exchange homes for a week but as usual, I was not able at that time. I offered a hospitality exchange instead, one where he and his family would come and stay with us in our home, then sometime in the future we would visit them. We are fortunate that we have four bedrooms and an office with a futon, so we can accommodate several guests.
At first Peter was surprised by the concept and peppered me with questions… “will you be there?”, “will we have free reign of the common rooms in house?”, “what is the interaction between us like?”. These were all great questions. I say, “yes”, “yes” and “however you want to interact”.
They arrived last Thursday and right away we were pleasantly comfortable with our new friends. We had many meals together, breakfast on weekends – one day we cooked our favorite banana-chocolate chip pancakes and the next day they made us their famous savory and sweet Dutch pancakes. We all chipped in helping to prepare or clean up and enjoyed great company and conversation. They loved sitting in our backyard and we introduced them to s’mores in our outdoor fireplace. We also enjoyed some dips and conversation in the hot tub.
We took them to a fantastic party, to our favorite restaurants, to Chesapeake Beach Water Park and to many local outdoor concerts – really giving them the experience of being with locals. We even got them out on the water for a boat ride – one of their biggest requests. My daughter really loved the dad Peter, he has a company that does theater for children. We really were very sad to see them go.
If you ever done a home exchange, try hospitality exchange – it really does take the whole cultural experience up about 10 notches!