Monday, June 2, 2008

Shh, Someone is Sleeping

Those are words you will never hear in Samoa. I may have mentioned this before, but I have been thinking about it a lot recently. So I thought I would bring it up again.

In the States there is a pervasive respect for sleep. Entire households may tiptoe around and whisper if a member of the family has fallen asleep in a common area. If you call someone at an even remotely early or late hour, you apologize for possibly waking them up. Sleep is only interrupted in case of an emergency.

There simply is not the same attitude towards sleep here. Six o'clock in the morning is a perfectly reasonable time to start blaring music at top volume for all the neighbors to enjoy. Six o'clock in the morning, on a Saturday, is a perfectly reasonable time for your cell phone carrier to text you with an offer to save money if you spend a ridiculous amount on calls before 7 am. Six-thirty in the morning, on a national holiday, is a perfectly reasonable time to start playing handball in your carport. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. You say to the sunrise.


As a country Samoa appears to be an early riser. Activity at our host family could be begin as early as four or five in the morning. Part of this can be attributed laying around in the heat of the day that will occur later, once the sun has hit it's high point. But even then, sleep is not respected. Those who are not resting to avoid the heat will still be blaring musics and yelling at top volume. They will also have no problem with yelling the name of a sleeping person continuously until that person wakes up — usually so they can be asked an unimportant questions or send on a errand the other person could have easily done themselves.

On the bus ride to the wharf for our Savai'i vacation one girl was sleeping in the seat in front of me. Her sister or cousin on the other side of the aisle would continually hit her until she woke up and then ask her some question. The girl would answer and go back to sleep. Ten minutes later, it would start all over again.

The part I have a hard time with is that no one seems to be upset or bothered when they have been woken up for no apparent reason. The girl on the bus would keep going back to sleep and then waking up to answer questions with out the slightest indication of irritation. I watched people in the village (mostly children) be woken from a deep sleep, go about performing whatever task and then wander back to sleep without complaining. I don't know about you, but I would get cranky if someone was waking me up all the time.

— Sara

1 comment:

Barb Carusillo said...

I can just imagine how your dad would do in such a country. He would likely take the head off someone who woke him on purpose from a sound sleep. Good thing he doesn't have any firearms!