As we pulled up to la mairie (city hall) it began to rain - another bout of good luck? - and I was nervous but excited to meet my new family. Within moments my three sisters had found me. There was Elodie (20) and the twins Aubine and Aubinette (14). Apparently Maman was at a party but she'd be home a little later.
I immediately felt at ease with them. They are fun and easy-going, especially the twins who like to be silly. Elodie plays the part of the mature older sister gracefully. She is beautiful and strong... watching that girl do laundry is a work of art! The twins are hilarious: Aubinette loves to sing and dance all the time while Aubine is very cuddly and attentive, always taking time to explain things to me slowly. Of course at 14 they both love to giggle about boys so I've definitely had some flashbacks to middle school but it is fun :).
I quickly discovered I had more family then I originally thought. There is Papa who works in Cotonou. Apparently he is the national director of Youth Recreation which requires lots of traveling. He visits on weekends when he can. There is also an older brother and sister who live with their families in Cotonou. Then there's Memé, the grandmother (maman's maman) who lives with us and only speaks the local language Fon. I am excited by the last bit of information because it will be great practice for me as I start learning more and more phrases. To finish out the family I'll be in contact with, there are two little cousins that live with us, Abraham/"Hamo" (10) and Faresse/"Fafa" (8), as well as an older cousin Mimi (13) who was staying for the holidays. As for the two little ones, I'm not sure I have ever met sweeter or more hard-working kids in my life. In Beninese culture children are expected to do all the household chores and the sisters keep them busy!
So, as you can see, in a matter of moments I had acquired my very own African family and I couldn't be more delighted.
To get to our house, we left the city on a dirt road through many cornfields (corn and its products are big here). After many twists and turns we pulled up to a little concession. Once through the red gate, you are in a courtyard busy with chickens, ducks, and sometimes goats. The house is set up around this courtyard with each room opening up to the outside. I essentially had my own part of the house. Two rooms, one in front of the other, and a private cement area in the back for cooking and taking bucket showers. Quite the nice set-up! Although seeing the communal latrines would bring me back to earth a little, all in all I couldn't be more happy with my new home.