Our current host family situation is interesting.
Let me start by trying to explain mine. I have a host papa. He is a youngfala (unmarried, youth). That means I have no host mama. I do on the other hand have a lot of aunties and uncles, and some grandparents. Everyone one of my host-papa’s brothers are my papas and everyone one of his uncles are my grandfathers. Same goes for sisters (aunties) and his aunties (grandmothers).
Now, the kastom name I was given has two parts, the first part “Matan” is a clan name. The clan name alternates by generation. So, my host mama, if I had one, would be a “Mabon” which makes me a Matan which means my daughter would be a Mabon. I think the “lala” part means something along the lines of “girl.” Now, Matanhelala is a common name. Because Matan is the clan name, every Matan is related to me. Which means that every other Matanhelala is now my sister. By extension, that means that every man with a daughter named Matanhelala is now my papa and everyone woman with a daughter names Matanhelala is now my mama.
Curiously enough, that means that Alexandra, the next closest volunteer to me, is both my sister and my cousin since we share a name and our papas are brothers of some form.
The men’s clans alternate the same way except with “Tabi” and “Bule.” Here is where things get complicated again. Bule can only marry Mabon and Tabi can only marry Matan. I think this is a trick to keep people at least a generation apart when the entire island population is less than a few thousand.
Now, let me back up a few days. Jason has met two men who have claimed to be his host papa. The first one didn’t give him a name, he said that would happen later. The second one named him on the spot. He named Jason a Bule.
(Another tangent: Jason, Alexandra and I were walking to her house in Melsisi one afternoon. The truck in front of us was getting some repair work done by a gaggle of men. We could see only part of one of the men from the top of the hill. The part we could see, wasn’t wearing pants. Nope, just a loin cloth. As we approach, he comes around the truck and greets us. We say hi politely and he asks who will be working in Vansemakul, I say me and he says good. Then he looks at Jason and says, “I’m your papa. You’re name is Bule(something).” We stand there and blink and then say thank you and carry on our way.)
If you are still following, you’ll notice a problem here. Bule can’t marry Matan, but we are married. So, now we have a conflict of interests. The first man who claimed Jason would make him a Tabi, but he hasn’t given Jason a name.
To complicate matters still more, Jason has not been formally adopted. It was supposed to happen last week, but didn’t and then we were under the impression it would happen at the same time I was, but it didn’t. Maybe Saturday.
UPDATE: Jason has been adopted and named with a Tabi name. His kastom name is Tabikirian. His host papa is not the pantsless wonder, but the other one who really likes to tell stories. Both of our names mean “good person” essentially.