I woke up at 3:30 AM this morning. I didn’t WANT to wake up at 3:30, I just did. I opened my eyes, laid staring at our ceiling for twenty minutes, willing myself to fall back asleep (to no avail), eventually gave up on nourishing my body with rest, and got up to start my day. This is becoming something of a regular occurrence of late, and it has me slightly concerned.
I know a few people back home, mostly farmers, who insist that a good day’s work should start somewhere between 4:30 – 5:30 AM, but I’ve always struggled to agree with this sentiment (mostly, I think, because it sounds like just the sort of delusional, crazy thing a person would say after being deprived of sleep for a significant length of time). After moving here to Papua New Guinea though, I seem to be getting pushed in that direction whether I like it or not.
Here are a few of the contributing factors that I’m blaming:
Wildlife: Back home, in the beautiful foothills of the Adirondacks, when nighttime came it was generally recognized by nature as a time for sleep. A gentle breeze would rustle the leaves, peeper toads and crickets would sing a quiet lullaby – it was peaceful.
Here in PNG though, we’ve replaced those little nighttime breezes with sporadic, unannounced, gale-force rainstorms that habitually blow our curtains off our windows and beat down on our tin roof in a deafening roar. And instead of a peeper toad serenade, we are regularly accosted by a slew of monster toads belching war cries comparable to what you might hear from a chain-smoking opera ensemble. (Tucker has woken up in the middle of the night on several occasions, crying, “Todes! Todes! Todes!”)
People: Again, back home, we lived amongst a pretty peaceful lot. Loud things happened during the day, and quiet things happened at night. Apparently, that isn’t a universal concept. I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve been woken up by our neighbors carrying on with their raucous night-life activities, which consist mainly of singing, fighting, and beating their wives. (There is a local home brew that contributes to this quite a bit, especially on the weekend following payday.)
Stress: There is no shortage of thoughts to occupy this tribal missionary’s mind when he is supposed to be sleeping: “Where are we going to allocate when we finish learning Tok Pisin?” “How much will it cost to build a bush house in a helicopter-only location, and where are we going to get that kind of money?” “What in the WORLD is crawling up my back right now?!”
Or, there is always the old “really weird dream that puts you on edge and won’t let you fall back asleep” standby. That was my method of choice tonight. We are planning on meeting with some potential coworkers in a week or two. Apparently, this idea prompted my subconscious to propose that during this meeting it will come out that the wife of this other couple used to be involved in a gold mine operation here in PNG until the partnership went sour and she blew up the whole thing using dynamite and popcorn. Also, the soup I will make for supper will be too brothy, and I will forget to wear pants.
So, there you have it. One more little glimpse into our lives over here in PNG. But, hey, I can’t really complain too much. That picture up top is the view I had off of my back porch at 5:30 this morning!