Stepping on a commercial scale in public?…What??…Tricky luggage situation…Late post due to our first power outage in Fiji…

Fiji comprised approximately 330 islands, of which one third are inhabited. The two major islands are Viti Levu, the most commonly visited, and Vanua Levu where we are staying for the next three months.

On our first morning in Savusavu, the power went out from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. As a result, we were unable to complete today’s post until now. From what we’ve heard, power outages on this remote island aren’t uncommon. If, or when, in the future, there isn’t a new post, most likely it will be due to a power outage. Once the power returns, we’ll immediately get back to preparing and uploading the day’s post. Now on to the story we started this morning at 7:00 am.

Fiji Airways’ baggage policy, vague online, proved to be more complicated than we’d expected. For the first time in our travels, we weren’t allowed to carry on our duffel bag or the small rolling cart. They had to be checked to add grossly to the weight.

As a result, we had to pay USD $298, AUD $430 in excess baggage fees. No doubt we’d have had to pay for the bags being overweight anyway with or without checking these two extra items. Tom was frustrated. I’d expected this and tossed out a credit card to pay.

With another flight once we arrived at the Nadi Airport, on Fiji’s largest island, we had to collect our bags, go through customs and immigration, and check-in the bags once again, (we expected this) although the payment we’d already made saw us all the way through to Savusavu, our final destination. 

As the small plane approached the island of Vanua Levu, heading toward the Savusavu Airport. (Photos shown today were taken through the window of the aircraft).

When we were done at customs and immigration, we used two free trolleys loaded up with all of our bags and made the required 10-minute walk to the domestic terminal from the international terminal. 

When we depart Savusavu in three months to fly back to the mainland for one additional month, we’ll have to pay all over again. Am I redundant in saying, “It’s the nature of the beast?” Probably. But, we have to remind ourselves that it’s only these travel days we find challenging, the hauling of the heavy bags, from gate to gate, immigration desk to immigration desk.

Getting up at 3:45 am worked out well. I was asleep by 10:00 pm and Tom drifted off by 10:30 when I heard him rustling about to turn off the TV. Sleeping all the way through the night until we heard the alarm on my phone and moments later the wake-up call, I bolted out of bed raring to go.

In Fiji, there are many atolls, ring-shaped reefs, islands, or chains of islands formed or coral. Notice one of the wheels of the plane in this photo.

Within 20 minutes I was showered, dressed and ready to pack up the odds and ends we’d unpacked when we’d arrived the previous night. By 4:15 am, we called the front desk to deliver two trolleys to the room. Luckily, the hotel keeps airport trolleys on hand for this very purpose. Thus, we were able to leave the trolleys at the airport when done checking the bags. This avoided the necessity of a cab fare to go a mere six-minute walk.

Back to the arrival at Nadi Airport in Fiji, when we arrived at the domestic terminal, we had to once again check the prepaid bags. In doing so, all looked good at the start until the agent with Fiji Airways explained that my large yellow Costco bag had to be checked. 

Since I no longer own a handbag, when we travel I use that bag in part as a handbag. Now I had to let it be checked since they explained the plane was too small with no overhead compartments or room for storage. 

After days of rain, Savusavu was still experiencing a huge cloud cover. Today, for the first time in days, the sun has made an appearance. With sunset views from our veranda, we’re looking forward to some awesome sunsets although partially blocked by mountains.

Immediately, I scrambled through the bag removing the camera, our phones, my wallet, and a few personal effects, stuffing them into the blue pill bag that we were allowed to carry. At that point, the agent told us to individually step up onto the raised baggage scale along with our remaining one carry on bag each.

Oh, good grief. Were they going to announce our weight over the loudspeakers? Was there a digital readout everyone could see when we stepped up on the scale? No, it was a relatively painless process when no one could see our weight, not even us. 

When all was said and done, our carry-on consisted of one laptop bag and the pill bag containing a year’s supply of prescriptions, some vitamins, and two Epipens (we’re both allergic to bees).

How small was this aircraft that we had to trim down to this effect and be weighed in public? A short time later we met a couple from the US on their honeymoon and they explained that the agent changed their seat assignment due to their combined weight being too heavy to sit together. How embarrassing was that?  Fortunately, we were able to retain our two seats, side by side. 

We can understand the reasoning of weighing people along with all of their bags in one fell swoop but doing it with only one carry on, could be difficult to take. There’s been a lot of controversy on this topic.

An hour later, we walked outside to board the plane, having been told that some of the passenger’s bags wouldn’t make the flight due to the weight restrictions. Who that would be was unknown at this point. 

We had no idea if our bags would make it through on our flight until after we landed at the tiny airport Savusavu. All of our bags made it through but the newlyweds, heading out on a boat to a more remote location, had a few bags yet to arrive.

Scattered across roughly 1.3 million square kilometers of the South Pacific, the Fijian Archipelago encompasses one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world, which many claim is more beautiful than the Great Barrier Reef. 

With the necessity of a trip to the grocery store (more on that later), once we arrived in Savusavu and, before we arrived at the new house and, with the property’s owner-driver picking us up, we wondered how and when we’d have time to return to the airport to pick up the bags. We both stayed calm.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share the exciting adventure on the little plane and some amazing photos. The plane was almost as small as the plane we took in Kenya landing on a dirt runway in the Masai Mara when we went on photo safari two years ago.

Need I say, we were excited and fearless? Goodness, where is the old Jessica, formerly terrified of insects, snakes, and confined spaces? In the past two weeks, I’ve been in a submarine and on a tiny plane. Has this crazy life been able to change me so much, that now, my heart pounds with excitement, not fear?

All I can say until tomorrow is that we made it! As I write this now, on the night of September 8th, the 7th in the northern hemisphere, we’re totally unpacked, our groceries are put away and we’re incredibly content in our new home; the bed’s a little hard but there are five windows in the house with screens. There’s no closet for hanging clothes, only shelves for stacking them. 

There isn’t a bowl large enough to toss a salad or a pot big enough to make any of our favorite entrees let alone the fact that there was no lettuce or cabbage available at the sparse grocery store, comparable to the sparse markets we experienced in Belize. We’ll find a farmer’s market. We’ll adapt. We always do.

Photo from one year ago today, September 8, 2014:

A year ago photo from September 8th…We arrived in Iceland to embark on a wild 4×4 ride through the countryside on a terribly rainy and cold day. For details, please click here.
The geothermal activity in Iceland is unbelievable. It’s a time bomb ready to explode so explained our driver on the 4×4 adventure. For more details, please click here.

Comments and responses Stepping on a commercial scale in public?…What??…Tricky luggage situation…Late post due to our first power outage in Fiji…

  1. Staci Finch Thompson

    So glad you made it and can't wait to read more about the adventure. I'm sure everything will work out. Enjoy being in your new temporarily-permanent home! (Yay, window screens!!)

  2. Jessica

    Staci, we are so thrilled to have screens on the windows. What a treat! I love your "temporary-permanent." Its so true. Wait until you see what we went through in tomorrow's post, the one you'll see on your Thursday! Thanks for keeping tabs on us. Its comforting knowing you both and all of our friends are out there.

    Warmest hugs,
    Jess & Tom

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