After 5 days in my father’s bit of the island, we travelled onwards to a tiny village outside of Dìng’ān, where my mother’s side of the family comes from. We stayed at my grandparents and uncle’s house; as did my aunt, uncle and cousin visiting from Shanghai. Very pleasant and leisurely days in the humidity and 38 degrees were spent eating, reading, and playing with my cousins. Both of my parents are the oldest of their siblings so all my cousins are much younger than me.
We visited two of my aunts’ houses (one of whom delivered my newest baby cousin the week after our visit), as well as my mother’s family’s country house where my great-grandmother still lives and tends the animals. My great-grandmother is 95 years old – the brightest and fittest 95-year-old I’ve ever met – having lived through the post-imperialist turmoil that was the Republic of China, losing her politically active husband during the Japanese Occupation, and the turbulent development that led to today’s PRC. She’s incredibly close to my grandfather, who breeds the best geese I’ve ever tasted in my life and who’s the centre of amusement and hilarity after the bowl of rice wine that accompanies his every meal.
My mother grew up in that country house (where I also lived for some time as a toddler) – it’s wonderfully serene and quiet, and surrounded by amazing food, such as – besides the free-ranging animals roaming around – lots of coconut which we picked down from their trees. Other activities included celebrating my cousin’s second birthday, my sister’s nineteenth birthday, and playing an incredibly sweaty but very fun session of ping pong.
Also, my aunt caught a snake outside her house, so we put it in a bag and ate it for dinner that day.