Monday, September 27, 2010

Daylight Savings Fa'a Samoa

I can only imagine that when the people who decide these things in the world decided to start daylight savings time it was for a good reason. In America it always made sense to me. The days were noticeably shorter in winter and longer in summer. Daylight savings time tended to even out the drastic changes. Yesterday for the first time in Samoan history, this country joined the daylight savings club. And moderate chaos followed. In a country where people follow the sun and not a watch or clock, it made little sense to bring about the change. Maybe in Apia where things run more to schedule it would have made sense, but out here in ku’a territoty, confusion reigned free.

I did not attend church yesterday because I was out of the village but the experiences I heard about were laughable: people showing up an hour late, an hour early, or the church service simply being moved to a different time all together to try to go with the flow of the day. In any case, it sounded as though most services had some growing pains with the new time. The bell for Sa which is signaled as the sun sets did not sound until close to 8pm, and so dinner did not start until 8:30 which was quite a change for me who has become accustomed to eating at 6pm every evening with my neighbors.
And then there was school. For the past year I have fallen into the habit of waking up at 6:15 every morning, making my morning tea (well, coffee and cereal), and then heading out to school by 7:15am to be there for the start of morning prayers at 7:30. However this morning when my alarm clock sounded, not even the roosters were crowing yet. As I lazily hit snooze awaiting the arrival of the morning sun, I had the realization that no one else was going to be on time today and I might as well enjoy a lazy morning. So I slept till 6:45 and then plowed through my morning routine. However, even at 7:15 the sun was just dawning over the still sleeping village and only the truly punctual students were finding their way through the early morning haze to school. Around 7:35 I left my house, well aware of my lateness but encouraged by the host of other stragglers still wandering lazily up the road. I arrived at school by 7:45am and was not the last to arrive. Talking with the other teachers it was decided that morning devotional period should be moved until 8am and school will therefore start between 8:30am and 9am. So, an hour later pretty much. Morning tea time will remain the same: 10:30am, and the school day will last until 2pm instead of 1pm. We will see if this actually happens; today everyone was gone by 1pm as normal. So, instead of savoring the daylight hours as daylight savings is meant to do, it has instead robbed us of one hour of our day. In this culture, the rising of the sun and the crowing of the roosters is the signal to start a day, not an alarm clock. So everything will go on as normal, just with a different time stapled to it. Who knows, maybe the clubs will now play music till 11pm instead of 10pm! In talking with a co-worker about his concerns about daylights saving, he stated, “don’t worry, come April, it all goes back to normal.” He’s absolutely right: why worry about something as minute as the time? The Westerner in me clings to my watch but the Samoan in me tells me to toss it now and not to look back. I give it another few months before I get that far!


  1. Hey there, was there a Coast Guard unit that was down in Samoa sometime this summer?

  2. Hey Rachel! Great blog! I had predicted much of this stuff in advance so just laughed as it all unfolded. Just when they start getting use to it, we'll go back to standard

  3. Manny! Whats up? Where are you these days?! Coming back to Samoa anytime soon?

  4. much longer r u there?