Friday, June 15, 2012


Maybe it’s just me.  I don’t like to sleep with other people.  Unless I love them and they are of the opposite sex.  And even then, I want a bed big enough so we can both have a little breathing room. 

I went to Spain with two friends.  We were visiting the daughter of one friend who was doing her semester abroad in college.  I had my own very tiny room with a lovely view of an airshaft.  My friends had a double room with a view of the street where they were entertained until 4 a.m. every morning by revelers beneath their balcony.  They had twin beds.

A couple of nights, my friend’s daughter spent the night so they just pushed the twin beds together and shared.  I love my friends.  My friend’s daughter is a dear friend in her own right.  I don’t care to sleep with them.

Here in Samoa I’ve wondered about the married couples in Peace Corps.  Extricating oneself from a mosquito net in the middle of the night can be a challenge.  On more than one occasion I’ve tried to answer the call of nature after first decamping from my hut of net.  One misstep and you’re on the floor, buried under a mosquito net and now wide awake, pissed off and still needing to pee.

I have a double bed, so a mosquito net with a “door”, which just means there’s a slit in the net on one side.  But what if there are two of you and you sleep on the other side of the bed from the “door”?  Do you untuck your side of the net and slither out underneath?  Or crawl over your sleeping partner to try to find the slit in the dark and crawl through that?  One couple told me they do the crawl-over-the-partner thing.

Have I mentioned that Samoa is in the tropics and that it is hot and humid here, year ‘round?   I have children and other teachers touching me all day.  At night, I sprawl under my sheet with the fan blowing directly on me.  Usually, about 2 a.m., it cools off enough that I turn off the fan.  Would I want someone pressing their hot, moist skin against my hot moist skin?  Not when I’m trying to sleep, thank you.

My family is fairly typical for Samoa, I think.  They’re into the communal sleeping thing.  Not just sleeping in the same room but more than one to a bed, or mat on the floor, as the case may be.  It’s not a matter of space, it’s a matter of preference and comfort.  The babies grow up sharing a bed with an adult or siblings.  It’s not unusual for me to see three or four of my “siblings” sharing a bed.  I also hear them, whispering, talking or singing together in bed after the lights go out.  It makes me long for someone to be cuddling with.  And for air conditioning.


  1. Great post Nancy! We even do the communal sleeping thing here in NZ... We'd find it strange when our palagi friends made a big fuss over sleep overs, with everyone sleeping in one room, chatting and singing as late as possible - because in our house it was sleep over every night haha.

  2. Interesting post. I think mentioned before that as an overseas born and raised Samoan, much like yourself, I'm use to having personal space.

    I forgot to mention that I'm quite the opposite when it comes to bed time. When I'm home in Australia, I have no qualms sleeping in a large bed in my own room with the door shut to ward off others from entering. However I find it hugely uncomfortable doing the same practice when I'm visiting relatives in Samoa, mostly because I know that Samoans in general go out of their way to ensure that guests are comfortable (which often means a family goes without a pillow or a fall). But to my chagrin I've discovered that I prefer sleeping in the main fale with everyone else.

    And preferably without a mattress. The hard concrete floor isn't all that appealing but I've discovered it's a whole lot cooler to sleep on than sleeping a mattress. I like to think that it's my Samoan heritage kicking in, which allows me to adjust to these unusual sleeping habits.

    I hope you're enjoying your stay in Samoa, I recently returned from Samoa a week and a half ago, I was there for the 50th Independence celebration. I'm a bit bummed that I didn't get to read your blog before I had left because I would have loved to catch up.

    But happy writing,