Fiji Time

At the end of July we went to Fiji immigration in Nadi.  Our Visa was up  August 26, and we wanted to stay until November (ish). We could always fly out of the country and return. Many cruisers do a round trip to Vanuatu all in a day. The cost for W/ and I would be almost the same as applying for an extension.  We felt the hassle of leaving the boat, packing, traveling to the airport, getting stamped out of Fiji, getting stamped into Vanuatu and out on the same day; often catching the same plane back, would have been a PITA.  We opted for the extension.

At the immigration office we had to fill out more paperwork. Once completed we discovered the immigration officer gave us the wrong paperwork not understanding how long we were staying. We filled out a few more pages. Then with copies of our Passports, boat papers, a bank statement (showing we have enough money to not be a burden on the country), and about $500 Fijian dollars we walked out with a receipt and a nod to return to any immigration office after two weeks for our new visa stamps.

We worried that we would need to hang around Nadi for two weeks. But;  the officer assured us we could continue enjoying Fiji and receive the passport stamps at any immigration office.
It took us 3 weeks to travel to Savusavu.  We were a week past our Visa but we had our receipt. In the US I don’t know what they would have done. Hell, with some of the current vitriol we may have been shot being illegal immigrants! 🙂  Fortunately, Fiji is understanding and intelligent in these matters but they are not nearly as timely as much of the western world.

Upon arrival in Savusavu and getting settled with the boat we took our documents to the immigration office for our  passport stamps. About 15 minutes later the officer said the extensions had not yet been approved and to come back next week.  She DID NOT  say “oh-oh, you need to leave”!  We had our receipt and that seemed to entitle us our continued cultural experience.
Roughly tens days pass and we decide to check again with the immigration office. We are thinking of heading out Monday for anchorages unknown. With that trip in mind we need to know if we must stop by other immigration offices or not.  By now we are approximately 6 weeks after our application and 4 weeks past our visas.

Luck was with us. The Immigration officer said our application had been approved. However we needed to return Monday. They needed a fax/email from the head office and we needed to pay another approximately $200 F.  Still a better deal than flying out and back in one day.
When you talk of accomplishing tasks in Fiji one often hears “Fiji Time”.  The understanding is that the task will get completed but not in the time you expect. It may be later today, tomorrow or next week. Often the follow up to Fiji time is Siga na liga.  No Worries.  What a pleasant way to travel life’s paths.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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