I’ve talked to a number of people about sleeping in Samoa. Lights, noise, activity don’t seem to deter a determined sleeper. My host brother’s view is that it’s comforting and makes it easier for him to sleep when there’s a lot of noise and activity. The sound of people talking, in particular, seems to be a soporific.
He says “I sleep better when people are next to me, talking, because I know I’m not alone.” I, on the other hand, can’t sleep when I know I’m not alone. I prefer complete darkness, silence and solitude. He thinks that’s creepy. This is just an example of a basic difference in cultural perspectives.
As I type this I’m listening to my host sister sing. She likes to sing and does frequently, usually at the top of her lungs. Luckily, she has a good voice. Currently, she’s in the family’s fale which is about 15 yards from my open front door. It’s an open fale, with a roof and floor but no walls. Another sibling is watching tv in the same space and a third sibling is taking a nap. The mom just walked in from the shower, wearing a towel. She’ll get dressed, doing the “pull on the clothes under the towel” trick. There are also currently 3 dogs, 2 cats and a rooster sharing the space. They don’t even notice the others as a distraction.
Their fale is a small space where the family spends most of their time, frequently with ten or more there at once. That means everyone is no more than a foot away from another person.
Like most Americans, I like my personal space. Samoans like togetherness. Yesterday during the rehearsal for English Day I was sitting on a small bench. Within minutes another teacher sat down next to me close enough that our thighs were pressed together. She put her arm around my shoulders. Seconds later, another teacher pressed in on my other side. She held my hand and put her head on my shoulder.
I appreciate that they want to be close to me and show their friendship, but GET OFFA ME! They laugh at me and do stuff like this on purpose now, to tease me. I can even get over the personal space issue but it’s hot here. I wouldn’t care if it was Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnnie Depp wanting to make a sandwich of me. It is too hot. GET OFFA ME!