Sunday, November 8, 2009

How did you end up in Fiji??? - Part 2!

When we arrived on the island of Vanua Levu (Fiji's second largest island) that day in May 1996, the rental car guy said we'd need a 4x4 when he found out where we were staying -- there was just a "track" going into the property! It took ALL DAY to get the 4x4 from the other side of the island. The chief from the closest village was with us -- and by the time we got to the property it was dark (and raining). We couldn't see ANYTHING and were exhausted. Cincinnati ~ LAX ~ Nadi ~ Savusavu ~ plus wait all day for a 4x4! The next morning we woke up to THE MOST incredible view I'd ever seen. A 600 square mile bay (the largest deep water bay in the South Pacific) with mountain ranges on both sides. NO boat traffic - unbelievable! Love at first sight. It reminded me of where I grew up - on a hillside above Puget Sound in Seattle.

We were there for a week - got with a lawyer and accountant and agreed to buy the property subject to a zoning change approval and government approval for the resort development. Both of those took six months. We returned in November for 2 weeks -- the bank having NO IDEA I was going to "retire early" -- and started making arrangements. The 25 acres were covered in bush - the village would clear it. We needed to hire a contractor - determine what to bring from the US vs what to get in Fiji. A BIG planning project. Fortunately, some time I spent working with a building contractor right out of college paid off -- I knew enough about building to be "dangerous" so I did all of the building designs. My ex did all of the landscaping design.

We moved here permanently in March 1997 after my "retirement". I had to take a world globe in to work so my staff could see where Fiji was - they had NO idea!! We sent 5 containers which arrived two months later - the project took about 18 months to build. We had to put in 3km of road because the government didn't have any $$$....... My ex sat on his butt exercising and spending money while the contractor went wild, stealing materials, sabotaging stuff so it would have to be redone, etc. You name it, he did it because there was NO oversight. I fired the contractor in January 1998 and my ex and I "went our separate ways" - I stayed, he went! I got a friend in the states to help me buy him out and finished the project by myself!!! I kept a journal during all of the project which I mailed - and later was able to email - to about 30 friends. Maybe I'll turn it into a book someday! I will definitely include some of the funnier bits in this blog!!

There's a saying here (anywhere overseas, really): "If you want to be a millionaire, bring two million!" I did NOT do this to make $$$ -- the whole idea was that as long as it paid for itself, that's all I cared about. This life change was for LIFESTYLE, not $$$. It's been 12+ years and 2 "coups", plus 9/11 and now, the global recession. Challenging, to say the least.....

What I love most is meeting people from all over the world and making SURE that they have the best possible experience here in "Heaven". We have a world map on a wall in the dining room and guests place a pin on the map, designating where they're from. It's such fun to look at that map!!
Oh, and my good friend from California back in 1989? She's now living permanently in New Zealand and has been here to visit!!


  1. Ohhhhhhhhh loving it Sweety. Thank you for sharing. Am following your blog now :)

  2. I absolutely love reading your blog sis!!! Please more more more ;) ...this is great and you do make it sound like heaven on earth! love ya! xoxoxo

  3. Did your good friend build a resort in New Zealand too? ;-)

  4. My friend in New Zealand didn't build a resort! She's "retired" there now, working part time as a consultant, and having a great time!

  5. Ok now that you've tweeted me all these amazing Fiji pics I'm officially jealous that you managed to just up and move and do all this! Kudos to you! You need to include those amazing pics in this blog!

  6. Absolutely a live for your purpose kinda story. You are an inspiration. Hope to come visit one day. Sheila

  7. As always an excellent posting.The
    way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.


  8. You can go to the first December post for the "continuing saga" of starting a business in Fiji!