Well, I made it safe and sound to Toulouse, without any major upsets. Pretty much all of my flights ran a little delayed, but that is what you get when you travel in January. My flight to Chicago was the most delayed, and then we spent 25 minutes circling the tarmac. I was sitting pretty with four hours to catch my flight, but those people who had a forty five minute connection were unhappy. I'm now forming a bad impression of those people who create that short of layovers for themselves, so I am sorry to say I did not feel bad for them.
From Chicago I went to Heathrow, with plenty of screaming babies on the plane but I had my iPod, so I caught a few hours of sleep. There I was lucky enough to meet up with my friend Sasha, who will be in Toulouse with me, and that was a joyous reunion. We even got to sit next to each other on the flight to Toulouse (there were very few people) and waited with each other through the very short security and getting our bags. We walked into the terminal, saw our respective host families and split without a goodbye...this was a big moment for us.
My family is so sweet! There are only three in the family, Nino (the mom) Cyrille (the dad) and Vincent (age 10). Vincent just started learning English and is eager to show me everything he knows. All three know some level of English, and my French so far has been able to stand up to the challenge. They took me back to their house and showed me around it, it's super cute! Like many houses in the area it started as one huge house, got cut into three apartments, and then my family bought all three apartments. So there are three kitchens, three bathrooms, etc. I was entertained to see the European kind of bathroom (read: toilet alone in a closet type room and sink, shower, etc in another room) but that shouldn't be hard to figure out. The house is arranged in a circle, with each room leading to another around to the center stairs. That does mean I cannot get to the front door without going through either Vincent's room or the parents room, which will be...interesting. But the family is warm and friendly and I don't think we will have a problem.
So far I have not done a whole lot, they took me for a walk yesterday afternoon before it got dark, around to a nice park nearby where I might be able to run and showed me the larger streets that have shops. Then it was home for a quiet evening...I was so tired I was in bed by 10. A wonderful start so far!