Sleeping with foreigners

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – Before I go any further with today’s entry, I must warn you that this is not the usual sexual thing I have been writing about. Although it has something to do with my travels, this is purely clean and safe for everybody’s reading appetite.

I have been having problems with my sleep since December 2009. My right arm feels numb and very tired from that encounter up to today. I am not talking about that fateful morning anymore because it has become a worthless memory after all. Anyhow, the usual me sleeps sideways. I hate hearing myself snoring in the middle of the night especially when I am travelling and staying in a hostel.

How does it feel to sleep with strangers in one room? Are there any room etiquettes that we follow? Lights on? Lights off? Walk heavily? Tiptoe? Talk? Whisper? Or is it anything goes?

The first time I travelled and stayed in a hostel was in December 2004 with my Filipino co-scholars and Trixi, my dear Austrian/honorary Pinay friend. We stayed together in one room when we were in Oporto. The room came with one bathroom but the hot shower wasn’t working well so I guess we all settled to just wash our faces on the last leg of our Portuguese adventure. I don’t remember anything with Trixi’s sleeping habits probably because I was too tired to notice at all.

In Marrakech last December, I have had the chance of sleeping in an all-male room. At the hostel, a French guy is  already occupying one of the six beds in the room. He is  travelling without any plans at all. He says it is all spur of the moment thing for him. Sounds exciting. At night, he takes a shower before going to bed. Dries himself up naked in the room with the lights off. I am trying to make something out of his silhouette for four nights but to no avail. This French guy is selfish, I guess. After two days, two Australian brothers join us in the room. These two are travelling during the holidays. They are touring Morocco. I find these guys very well educated. They tiptoe. They close the door slowly and swiftly as if they were taking a stash of gold bullions from a Swiss bank. They talk about their travels by day. They whisper goodnights before sleeping soundly. Between the French and the Australians, I go for the guys from the Land Down Under.

Do birds sleep like humans do? Wish we could just fly away to avoid interruptions in our sleep. Marrakech, December 2009.

In Bilbao, I only had one roommate, a Japanese young lady. She couldn’t break a Lladro masterpiece. She could have been a very well trained geisha. But later on I realized she is a saburuko to her Bilbaino master. This one is choosy, she prefers that he smells good even after gulping a liter of absinthe in the hallway. This maiko learned her lesson well. In this cold winter Basque night, she has become a full-fledged geisha during the erikae with this smelly Spanish guy. Between chorizo and saki, the former wins with my hands clinging into it up and down.

Like any train ride, sleeps come regularly. But sometimes, there are unavoidable delays that we can only shake our heads with discontentment. Bilbao, Spain, February 2010.

I had the best time hearing myself in Malta. I was all alone in 12 bed-room in that hostal. Going to this small European island during the early part of the Easter week was a welcome change for my Spanish pace. Everyone spoke English. I was dreaming and snoring in every known languages except Spanish. I wasn’t speaking in tongues though nor was I tongued the Maltese way during my six-day trip.

Like the sound of the waves, I heard myself loudly and clearly even during my sleep. Malta, March 2010.

Recently, when I was in Poland for four days in what looked like a Second World War hospital turned into a late 20th century hostel. There were six beds in a very spacious room that had a beautiful view of the Wroclaw train station. On the first day came a couple, a French girl with her Scottish boyfriend. While I was moving back and forth the whole night, the French girl had only one position all throughout. The boyfriend had his green underwear and had a great morning glory thing. If they were so engaging while awake, they were as silent while sleeping. Then came the Polish guy. No English. No German. Just Polish. Whewww!!! It was tough. He looked like he was about to kidnap me and Jo and whisk us to a nearby steamy place where some rich Eastern European would play and torture us the whole time. He had his drinks and food on his bed. He was munching peanuts while drinking a Polish beer. Before he snored to sleep, our room was already reeking with beer.

Some old habits can be kicked off. Some forever part of us. Some get facelifts and renovation and so does sleep. Wroclaw, Poland, June 2010.

To be continued