One thing I hadn’t realised I took for granted when living in Australia was the ease and convenience of the postal service. Yes, Australia Post is far from perfect but the basic set up of the system is quite efficient and makes it comparatively easy for the receiver.
Fiji is drastically different in its set up and quite inefficient and difficult to deal with. Firstly, there are no letterboxes out the front of each house. The only way to have post is to have a post box or do what we do and have all our mail sent to J’s work. Letters are no issue to receive as they will just be dropped off for him, international parcels on the other hand requires a substantial amount of patience and time.
In our experience with directing everything to J’s work he receives a delivery notice from Fiji Post (unless it’s been sent by a courier) that there’s a parcel waiting for collection. Once he has received this he must take his TIN letter (the equivalent of your tax file number letter) to the the main Fiji Post building in Suva. First time around this can be a tricky exercise as it’s not clearly signed but beside the main entrance is a set of stairs that you go up and in to the left is where you collect the parcels.
Before you can get your parcel though you need to provide the TIN letter and delivery note (if you don’t have these you can’t do anything). They’ll then bring out the package and instruct you to open it and open up all of its contents so they can verify that what’s inside is what has been declared. You then have to make up to two transactions depending on the goods that have arrived, one will be for duties and taxes on what’s been brought into the country and the other is the compulsory processing fee. Yes you pay for the pleasure of waiting for up to 40 minutes in line to collect your own parcel. Thankfully it’s quite a small fee but it’s per package so if you collect three packages at once, that’s three processing fees.
Obviously we have done some online shopping since we have arrived for items that you can’t get in Fiji and to be honest without the internet this move would have been a lot more difficult. Nowadays you’re so connected to the outside world that you can sometimes forget that you’re actually living on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.