Mary Deakers, 53, was flush with air miles – but not cash – and desperately needed some sunshine. The San Francisco Bay Area-based software engineer had just completed a complex project for a longtime friend and client – one of those jobs that somehow stretched into a 90-day assignment instead of the anticipated 45. The idea of spending some winter days in warm tropical sun already was mending her frayed edges. The plan? Trading homes with a woman in the Canary Islands who had been accepted to study dance at an exclusive San Francisco academy. Deakers would cash in her air miles for a flight to London then on to Santa Cruz de la Palma on the island La Palma. The lush, tropical island, which many European vacationers believe to be their best-kept getaway secret, is of...
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