Following my endless illness, which you may have read a snippet about here, we decided we had to say goodbye to our beautiful island home in Fiji.
In response, Fiji decided to have an enormous meltdown and threw a series of unfortunate events in our direction.
With the several issues we had packing up to leave, I don’t know if Fiji was screaming
“Get out! Don’t come back!”
“How dare you try to leave, I won’t let you”.
Issue 1: Irrational Landlord
We told our landlord we were leaving and aligned with our contract, gave 30 days notice.
Our landlord’s bizarre response was “We’ve decided to increase your rent starting last month, so we’re taking that out of your deposit”.
Our response: “That’s illegal. No”
Landlord’s response: Ignore our emails, yell at us, and tell us we’re going to pay whether we like it or not.
So I spent hours, sending emails, rereading contracts and talking to the Consumer Council of Fiji, who are grand and I highly recommend contacting if you have any issues with Fijian businesses.
3 months later we had the majority of our deposit returned, but I think they kept a random cut. I gave up on arguing.
Issue 2: Electricity
When we tried to prepare for electricity turn off, we were told that we would need to turn off our electricity 5 days in advance of leaving . We concluded that while trying to clean a house and pack up our lives, we couldn’t live without 5 days of electricity.
After lots of discussion, the Fiji Electricity Authority agreed that our neighbours could have authorisation to turn off our electricity after we had left. Of course, this resulted in a group of other issues including the electricity company not believing that Josh’s signature, was Josh’s signature.
Issue 3: Windscreen Destruction
We hired a car for our last holiday weekend in Fiji. A rock fell off the truck in front of us and damaged the windscreen. I dreaded, dreaded, dreaded for weeks on how the car hire company was going to respond and waited for the outrageous, totally blown out of proportion bill.
Fortunately, the car company was honest and claimed it through insurance. If you want to hire a car in Fiji, go to Carpenters Rental.
Issue 4: Irrational Landlord Returns
Our landlord said he was coming to do a final check of the apartment and key handover at 5pm the night before we left. Of course, he didn’t turn up.
It was night time, our apartment was clean and empty, we had no food and wanted dinner. So we called the landlord and the response was “we’ll be there in 2 hours”.
“Great”, we thought. “Plenty of time to get dinner”.
We left via taxi, and 5 minutes down the road the landlord calls to say “I’m here now”.
After the final check the landlord told us we had been great tenants and they would welcome us back anytime.
Issue 4: Last Meal
My last meal in Fiji was dinner at McDonalds. I took a bite of my cheeseburger and chomped down on a sharp metal bar.
Issue 5: Black-Out
We returned home to a black-out. By this stage, we’d give away our candles and torches and had only our phones for light. But, we had to also get up and grab our bags to leave at 1.30am, for which we had to reserve phone battery life. What was going to go wrong next?
Issue 6: Suva Airport
We made it to Suva Airport, on time, at 2.30am to catch the tiny Fijian domestic air flight from Suva to Nadi. I have only caught this flight once before, and on that occasion it hit a dramatic air bump that made it the most terrifying flying moment of my life.
I was tired and I was nervous. Fiji had already tried to kill me last night with a metal bar in my cheeseburger, and I felt it was going to make another move.
Moving countries, we were obviously well over-packed and intended to hide this from the airline staff.
Here I am wearing all my clothes. In the pillow, I have concealed a Psychology textbook.
Fun inter-country moving tip: no airline weighs a pillow.
We checked in.
I got away with my text-book pillow.
They forgot to weigh Josh’s hand luggage.
We escaped with no extra baggage fees.
We were safe.
We were ready to board.
We were called to check in on the airplane.
We were in the airplane line.
Our names got called over the PA system.
I’ve only had my name called over an airport PA twice before. The first time I was about to miss my flight to Melbourne and the second time I was taken by security at a Moroccan Airport. Having your name called over the PA is not a good sign.
“Ignore it” I said to Josh
They called our name again
“We can’t just ignore it, Emma.”
“Yes we can, we can just get on the plane.”
They called our name again.
There were only 10 people in the airport and half were staff so it was too hard to hide.
Reluctantly, we left the line and returned to the check in counter.
“There’s a problem with your tickets” they said. “You’re tickets are booked in the wrong month”.
[Our tickets definitely had the correct month ticket on them and Fiji Airlines had already checked on our luggage, and printed our boarding passes so I have no I have no idea what this was about].
In summary – we got up at 1.30am to arrive at the airport and be told that we may not be able to board the 5am flight, may have to stay in the country, where we had no home, and are physically carrying 30+ kgs of luggage each.
“Not to worry” the check in lady said, “Just wait over there”.
5 minutes passed.
The entire plane was boarded and sitting on the tarmac. I was convinced it was leaving without us. But at the last minute, on to the plane we were rushed and home was one step closer!
On the way, we were treated to a last beautiful view of the mountains.
Note: I debated and delayed this post for ages because I didn’t want to sound like I was whining about Fiji. Fiji provided a beautiful home, one we would like to return to again. We just had a difficult pack up experience. I decided to post because I would like other expats to be aware of some of the difficulties involved in packing up your accommodation, including within your rental agreements, electricity and you know, being careful every time you bite into a cheeseburger.