Wednesday, August 1, 2012


WHO: DiDi, Portuguese.
WHEN: 11/6/11
WHERE: Car Seat, Olhão, Algarve, Portugal.

SLEEPING PATTERN: Instantly lulled to sleep by hum of the engine, after a hard day being a kid.

Is there anything so cute as bilingual children? DIDI and her sister Lulu would whisper to each other in Portuguese and then give me cheek in English. The sisters were born to a British father who hosted me in a tent on his farm in the hills of Olhão, and a Portuguese mother. I earned my keep by attempting to get customers for their father's boat tours in the mornings and then looking after the girls in the evenings. They would get home after school and come and bombard me in my tent when I was trying to have an afternoon nap. (All that sunshine took it out of me!) I guess it's exciting to have a tent in the backyard even when you don't live in suburbia. After taking pictures of each others hair lifted by the static of the tent walls, and getting fingerprints all over my lens, they would argue over who's turn it was for me to endlessly push on the swing until dinner was ready. These two were adept at using the trembling lip to manipulate adults, but as the younger sibling, DiDi had not yet fully realised her pout power.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


WHO: Christina, Australian.
WHEN: 3/2/12
WHERE: My couch! Melbourne, Australia.

SLEEPING PATTERN: Passes out on any available couch, at any house party, like clockwork at only a little after midnight.

CHRISTINA, or XIE as she is fondly known, has a penchant for that cute sitting up kinda sleep where the sleeper props themselves up on one elbow, their head dropping abruptly several times until they give up all pretence of staying awake, and slip down the sofa until head comes rest on the couch arm, curling legs up into a foetal hug. She'll do this at pretty much any party that has couches and goes beyond her bed time of Nana-o'clock. I've tried to capture the phenomenon before, on my archaic phone camera, but this time I was blessed with a fisheye with a flash. 'Aha!' I cried when this film was finally developed, 'Got her!' You can also see a bit of my leg and elbow as I reach over at an awkward angle to get the shot. She didn't even flinch with the flash.
Aside from her adorable sleeping position - one hand reminiscent of childish thumb-sucking - Christina is just a gosh darn sweetie in general. It's like she's always playing dress up as a lady, but underneath she has all the endearing traits of a goofy school girl. One day it might be pretty dress, felt hat and a lunch packed in an actual cane picnic basket and the next, blue bathing suit, giant floppy hat and posing like a pin up girl. Her set-dressing career aspirations play out charmingly in her own presentation, but a big toothy grin will always give her true character away. Let's never quite grow up, k?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


WHO: Steph, Australian.
WHEN: 22/5/11
WHERE: Her Hackney apartment, London, UK.

SLEEPING PATTERN: Slept in the spare room, very kindly giving up her own bed to me, knowing that I'd come straight from walking for 24 days.

STEPH seemed to know exactly what I needed, hospitably supplying me with a comfy place to sleep and use of a washing machine. Her personalised tour of the city included her local drinking holes and the Old Operating Theatre Museum where many amputations took place in the early 1800s, which seemed apt since she works as an anatomical pathology technician.
An old friend who has been living in London for years, we enjoyed reliving old Melbourne memories through the skewed filter of time passed and after a week of bonding we became surprised that we hadn't been closer friends at home. We discussed her recent resolution to leave the frenzied pace of London and return to chill Melbourne. But she's a strong character who has forged herself quite the niche there, so it will definitely be a brave move for her to move on. I love Steph for the duality of her tough exterior and the softy inside; though it seems like nothing can phase her, I learnt otherwise from discussing dating and relationships with her. It was sweet to see her agonise over fresh minor dramas.
Here's an extra fun fact, the chunky silver rings she rocks in her stretched ears are actually made for Prince Albert piercings!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


As I've reached the las stop on El Camino De Santiago with Rebekka in Finisterre, you may have realised that those are the last of the sleeping pilgrims that will be featured on People I've Slept With. I would, however like to take a moment to remember the many characters that I did not have the chance to capture in their sleep.

In particular: the snorers. A night without at least one snorer lulling you to sleep was fairly rare. Once I slept in a room with 90 beds and the orchestra of snoring came from every direction - but was far from harmonious. I found that some snorers are actually relaxing to listen to and their breathing makes a meditative undertone. Others, not so much.
One guy made the worst noise I've ever heard; on both the inhalation and exhalation the sound was like a scream that shook me. He lead to me hiding my face in a blanket that must have had bed bugs because I woke up with bites on my face. Worth it. Apparently he usually slept in private hotel rooms instead of hostels and it was just my lucky night that he chose to terrorise a dorm room full of people. The next morning, a couple who had been in the room told me that they got up and shook his bed in hope of getting him to roll over, but he actually barked out, "F*** off!" The boyfriend found the snoring to be so bad that he went and slept outside on the lawn.
And then this guy. I didn't get a picture of him, but I found his snoring style so unique that it was worth recording. I had this jolly, round, Italian man with a bright red face in the same dorm room as me for THREE nights in a row. I don't think it helped that he drank wine every night. At about a minute in, you can hear a gurgle and snort as he actually wakes himself up with his own noise and changes position. This would happen over and over again. It was...disruptive to say the least.

Snoring by HannahSpeltBackwards

Thursday, November 10, 2011


WHO: Rebekka, German.
WHEN: 17/4/11
WHERE: Finisterre, Galicia, Spain.

SLEEPING PATTERN: She and Angela bookended me to share warmth on our very last night, sleeping in the sand dunes at the 'end of the world'.

REBEKKA and Angela were walking together after instantly hitting it off. A couple of days of our paths crossing, and we organically joined up. It helped that we had very similar and realistic ideas about pace and comfortable daily distances. The two Germans also awakened me to European nudity, as many of our hostels had showers-sin-dividers and seeing each other naked after meeting a day or two before was a complete non-issue.
So after bonding through several days of walking together, the three of us decided to mark the end of the pilgrimage by sleeping under the stars. Our destination, Finisterre, means the 'End of the Earth' and besides Santiago, is a perfect place to terminate by staring out over the Atlantic ocean. We were all charged to celebrate finishing the walk but Rebekka was especially buzzing with determination and impending accomplishment. Rebekka somehow fit two bottles of wine in her backpack for our planned feast and as I followed behind her excited march towards the lighthouse, I watched the almond cake that she had strapped to the outside of her pack bounce up and down. As we reached the lighthouse in almost darkness we realised that the cliffs were way too windy to for sleeping, we complained together that we now had even more walking to do, to head back the way we came to reach the beach. But giggling and swigging wine in our little nest in the dunes and then waking up to the sunrise on that beach was the perfect culmination of our time together.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


WHO: Angela, German.
WHEN: 16/4/11
WHERE: Pedrouzo, Galicia, Spain,

SLEEPING PATTERN: Took up a nice patch of lawn beneath the clothes line in the afternoon sunshine - walking 20 kms a day justifies an afternoon nap.

I ended up sharing many deep and meaningful conversations with ANGELA as we walked the last few days together, which were very useful in taking my mind off the ticking kms. We would get going on a topic and before we knew it we were at the lunch stop. She made some poignant observations, despite our short time together, which I guess is to be expected, since she is a child psychologist. I have to say, I envy her experiences of falling in love; I've only experienced love as a gradual growth.
Angela bravely spent one night outside alone, sleeping in a field - just for the adventure of it. The next morning when the rest of us walked through thick fog to meet up with her, we could only imagine what it was like to wake up surrounded by that. She took a photo of the little spot she chose to show us how she spent the night, and said she'd had to wait for farmers and their dogs to disappear before she could settle down. Other things: long walking poles as tall as me, eating a watermelon together, her endless supply of kinder chocolate, her ID picture with blue hair.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


WHO: Mijung from Korea.
WHEN: 26/4/11
WHERE: Albergue de Peregrinos, Viana, Navarra, Spain.

SLEEPING PATTERN: Collapsing on her bunk after hours of walking, Mijung passed out before she made it to the shower part of the daily routine.

MIJUNG appreciates simple things like juicy oranges and Spanish chorizo. She explained to me the practice in Korea of using blood types to categorise personality traits and in return I was a good english teacher to her (so she says). One of the blood types is said to be either a genius or a psychopath. Not knowing my blood type (an ignorance that amazed the Koreans) I joked that I must be that one. She assured me that I was a genius.
Her motivation for coming on the Camino was to pray to find a husband, having recently turned 30. Interestingly, Mijung is not actually baptised, but does practise prayer to a Christian God. On the Camino she attending mass for the first time. Along with her unconventional relationship with religion, she also blew my mind a little with the importance and urgency she places on marriage, as it's something I personally struggle to understand. After frankly professing her quest, she went on to develop a little crush on Francois. So, of course, Eugene and I incessantly teased them both about their impending marriage.

Mijung made me this folded note as a parting gift while we drank a cervesa together one afternoon when I couldn't walk on anymore. She wrote the letter in Korean, cheekily leaving me with the task of finding someone to translate it. When I did find another Korean pilgrim, days down the track, the words Mijung had to say to me were very sweet and heartfelt.

If you've read the PISW zines, you'll know that I collect some souvenir or memento to remind me of each person. Photographs of these are included in the zines. This is the first time I have a memento documented on video!