It has been a whirlwind getting here!  It is hard to believe that I am sitting in my living room in Fiji.   On one side of me I can see palm trees, our pool, and lush green mountains.  On the other side of me I see the bright blue sky, brilliant green palms, and the beautiful coast line.  The whole thing feels completely surreal.

Leaving Atlanta was incredibly difficult.  We have such a good thing going there.  I love the girls' schools.  I loved my job.  I loved our friends who were ultimately our family away from family.   My last few months there felt like a dream... I became numb about leaving because it was hard to feel sad all of the time.   All of my emotions were just below the surface waiting to bust out..but never quite there..until the passport drama.  The passport drama is too much to go into in this initial blog post, but it will be a good story for another time.  In short, I was a wreck leaving Atlanta but ready to see Warren again.

We spent a week in Virginia at my parents' house and Warren's parents' house.   The week was the perfect send off, once again allowing me to realize how lucky we are to have such amazing, supportive friends and family.   My girlfriends had a great sleepover for me at the bay packed with old photos, tipsy yoga, and midnight golf rides.   The girls got a lot of quality time with their grandparents and cousins and overall everyone just felt a lot of holiday warmth and love.  Walking away from it was so tough....  again...the only thing easing the pain was knowing our family would be reunited again.

Andie was sleeping in her daddy's coat every night to help her feel safe.  She was so ready to see him.  

So....  the day of the plane ride finally came.   I was so nervous, but Bonnie advised me to be strong and positive for the girls, so positive I was.  It was an adventure!  It took us nearly 6 hours to get to LA.  Thank goodness Santa got the girls kindles for Christmas because they hardly noticed they were flying on a plane.  They were so overjoyed I was giving them unlimited screen time they were zombies the whole ride.

When we landed in LA, it was only 7:30 west coast time but for the girls it was 10:30 after many late night cousin sleepovers.  To say it mildly, they were DONE.   We had to walk for at least 20  minutes to get to the international terminal.  They were both crying the whole entire walk as I was schelpping their backpacks, American Girl dolls, my backpack, computer, and carry-on all over LAX.    We finally got to the Air Fiji counter and Zoe fell asleep right there on the filthy airport floor.

Luckily, I got her up and after security, we got on the plane.   A pleasant Fijan gentleman gave us his seat so we had four seats between the 3 of us.   The girls spread out and fell asleep before we even took off.  They slept for the next 8 of 11 hours.   They looked so comfortable spread out between two seats, and only a tiny part of me was resentful that they could spread out while I tried to sleep in an upright position.   Mostly though, I was grateful.    It was a long night...but the girls slept through!  The last few hours were spent playing games, filling out customs forms, and watching the in flight entertainment.    I had been so worried about the girls, but they were fine.  I, on the other hand, was dragging a bit and still feeling like I was in a completely surreal, sleepless, dream.

We landed in Nadi, (pronounced Nandi) Fiji at 5:30 a.m. Fijan time.   As soon as we exited the plane I felt the wave of warm humidity as the girls commented on how warm it was here.   They were beyond excited and kept asking if now they would see Daddy.   I had to collect 7 huge bags by myself to go through customs.   Thankfully, a friend of Warren's from the embassy was there and showed me how to get to the domestic terminal, which was quite a far walk away.  There is NO way I could have carried all the huge bags by myself there, so thank goodness she found us!  Also, my girls made an immediate connection with her three once again I was reassured that the girls will be fine in this move.   We took a small plane to Suva, the capital and our current home.    When we arrived at the small quaint airport, Warren was waiting right there as we exited the plane.  The girls ran to him screaming, "Daddy!!!" the whole time.   It was impossible to witness and not blink away sentimental tears.  It was so good to see him.

We took about a 30 minute drive to our house.    The countryside reminded me SO much of my Peace Corps days in St. Vincent.  Very green.   Lots of small shacks with laundry drying outside.  Wild dogs and goats running around.   Many people sitting outside just relaxing.   I was so tired that I kept feeling like I was in another life... my past Peace Corps life.  It was an odd and slightly unsettling feeling.  I knew Warren was watching me for my reaction, so I tried smiling through it all...but mostly I think I just stared like a zombie.

We got to the house and WOW!  We live in a very safe, awesome house.   There are breathtaking views every way you look.   We have an amazing view of the harbor from the front porch and incredible views of the mountains from the back by the pool.  The girls were ecstatic!   They ran around the house screaming,"OMG! This house is AMAZING!"     This whole time I was processing the reality of living here with these views.   I have to say I was also noticing the differences too.  Noticing the lush green palm trees, noticing the ants in the kitchen.  Noticing the brilliant, blue, inviting pool...noticing the dingy furniture.   Just feeling aware of all the contrasts good and bad from our previous life in Atlanta.    Again...very surreal and dream-like.

The girls immediately got in their swim suits and jumped right in.   They were having a blast with Warren rough housing in the water.   Being without your dad for 2 months does not provide many opportunities for rough it was much needed daddy daughter time.   I sat on the side drinking my Fiji beer just absorbing the views.  Listening to nature and the girls' laughter.   We then sat on the porch watching the girls have a dance party a midst the views of the palms and harbor.  It was a very happy moment where I felt completely content to be together again within this beautiful back drop.

After pool time, we headed into the city to pick up some dinner.  The girls fell asleep in the first three minutes they were in the car.   Poor their little bodies it was 11:00 at night.  This gave Warren an opportunity to drive me around and show me the city.   Whoa.  I am SO SO SO completely freaked out to learn how to drive here.   They drive on the other side of the road and the steering wheel is on the other side of the car.  Their is a lot of aggressive driving and horn beeping.  I seriously don't know if I can do it.    I don't want to rely on Warren to drive us around forever, but I am SCARED!  He drove me down to the sea wall to see where I could run.    No one was wearing shorts to run.   Ugh.  I am really going to have to wear capri pants in the crazy heat and humidity.   I was searching with all of my might to find just one woman running in shorts.... no luck.  The city was overwhelming and honestly, it is all a blur right now.  My biggest take aways were no shorts and a fear of driving.

We put the girls to bed and had a nice dinner and much needed catch up.   I barely remember going to bed.  The night was a blur too as it involved many wake-ups by the kids, some bed swapping, and ultimately a get up at 4:00 a.m. to cook some breakfast.   Jet-lag is no joke.

After we finally all pulled ourselves together we drove into the city, parking at Warren's Peace Corps office.   We met all the amazingly warm staff and then took a walk into the city.  It was hot! My body is going to take some time to get used to this heat.    Let me rewind.  I took forever to decide what to wear to go into the city and meet Warren's staff.   I knew I couldn't wear shorts from what I saw in the city the day before and I so didn't want to wear jeans.  Our airport shipment (full of all of my longer shorts and long skirts) is stuck at the airport in some sort of paperwork I just had to improvise.  I finally found a skirt stuck in the bottom of my suitcase that was knee length.   Once we got into the city, even though my sweaty legs were sticking together, I was glad I chose that.   In the whole afternoon I only saw 3 people in shorts and they were all teenagers.  Most women wore long skirts or dresses... there were a few in capri pants.  Everyone was dressed very traditionally and conservatively..even in the "big" city.  Lots of floral patterns.  Lots of smocked dresses.   Many men wore sulus...or basically men skirts.   Warren now even owns a pin striped sulu.   I guess it's cooler than wearing pants around.  I need to get online and order myself lots of knee length or longer lightweight skirts.  From what I understand though, when we go to resorts....shorts are fine.  (Phew).

This is an example of a men's sulu.  When Warren wears his I'll snap a pic!

I would just say, "oh well" and wear the shorts...but we already stand out.  I was quickly reminded what is feels like to be the minority in your environment.    I think I saw one other white man out in the city, but everyone else if Fijan or Indo-Fijan.   I know it will take some getting used to, but just feels odd to stand out so much.   I think wearing shorts would only welcome even more unwanted attention.  No one was really staring or anything.... I was just very aware that we did not look like anyone else.  I've been there before and I know we'll be fine with it...but at this moment it is at the height of my awareness.  We went to a mall type place and tried to find something to eat.  There is a lot of Chinse and Indian food here.   The girls have got to expand their palate or they will starve here.   We then went and purchased some Bula Fijan dresses for the girls.  They were in love and wanted to buy every dress in the store.

Some snuggle time before dinner.

We got home to settle in for our New Years Eve night.   (Fiji is the first country to celebrate New Years!)   We ate some leftovers and enjoyed the beautiful sunset, our last one for 2014.   The girls fell asleep instantly and I tried so hard to make it until midnight.   I don't think I've ever missed welcoming in the new year, but I just couldn't make it.  I went to bed at 11 after some champagne cheers with my husband a midst the fireworks happening all around us.
Goodbye 2014.  Final sunset of the year. 

As a welcome present, Warren booked us a resort stay for the weekend.  I will do my best to chronicle the trip and post as regularly as possible.  There is so much to digest here....and I think this is a great forum to do it.    I am sure I will have a few regular readers (family and maybe a few friends) but hopefully keeping a blog will be one of many ways for our family to remember this adventure forever.


  1. I can tell it is going to be fun reading your updates! You have a knack for writing. It is great to see those big smiles on the girls faces :) Enjoy this wonderful and amazing adventure with Warren and the girls! By the way- I know you can tackle driving there! Lots of love and hugs ~Gigi

  2. What an amazing experience! I can't wait to read about all of your adventures. Big hugs from Knoxville!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Kate. Glad you guys made it safely. Look forward to following your journey here on the blog. Happy new year!

  4. Loved reading about your adventure west! Love and miss you...looking forward to reading about your new life and new adventures. Hope to see you one day in Fiji!

  5. Loved reading about your adventure! So hope that you keep this up because we love reading along!

  6. Kate, this blog is beautiful and I am so excited to follow along. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. You are a natural storyteller and the pics are awesome. I am so grateful my dear friends have this paradise as backdrop while experiencing the highs and lows of the first year of expat life. I teared up at your reunion with Warren, the excitement of the girls, and um, I am majorly jealous of the Bula Fijan dresses. I need one! And for what it's worth, one of my few London regrets was never learning to drive on the wrong side of the road. I believe in you!

  7. I'm so happy for you four! This is hands-down the coolest adventure that anyone in my family has ever taken. I'm looking forward to reading about your time there. Tell Warren and the girls that their cousins in Minneapolis say hi! - Jacob (and Jaime, Vera, and Carl)

  8. Thanks y'all! It helps that I have people pushing for me to learn to drive and following along on our crazy adventure! I will do my best to keep blogging! For now...I don't have too much else to do!

  9. So glad you made it and are settling in there in Fiji. Loved seeing the Fiji Bitter in your photo - one of my faves from my time there (on Mana Island) so many years ago. :) Look forward to keeping up with you and your family on this adventure! Enjoy all the places, people and amazing moments. Bula Fiji!


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