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Home swapping makes for comfortable vacation

Online services court cost-saving consumers

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 often compared to the Hawaiian Island of Kauai (without the humidity) and often is confused with the city of Las Palmas on Grand Canary Island and the island Palma de Mallorca in the Mediterranean. Hom...

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