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In love with Fijian life

Shayal Devi
Monday, October 30, 2017

WHEN Barry Hancock arrived in Fiji for the first time in 1969, he fell in love with the country he would one day call his second home.

It wasn't long before he started making regular visits to the property and by 1981, he and four other guests had successfully created the Bilo Bar Club, a group that has gone on to help the underprivileged of the community.

This sense of community has continually brought Mr Hancock back to Fiji.

"For me, I started coming in 1969 and then I came back in 1972 and then in 1974 and I have been basically coming every year since then," the 75-year-old said.

"I sometimes come twice or thrice a year and now I'm here six months of the year.

"The enticement for me was in the early days — there were no telephones, no TVs and so forth.

"My children had to get out and run around the beach and play. They couldn't amuse themselves in front of the television.

"They grew up understanding what the Fijian life was about, the simplicity and happiness of the people."

When it comes to understanding the Fijian way of life, Mr Hancock says he always remembered a story relayed to him by his friend, Patrick "Paddy" Doyle, an engineer who was one of the builders of Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa.

"After he opened this hotel, he told me the story of a Fijian guy lying on the beach. He had a fishing line tied around his toe and had thrown the line out into the sea.

"An American tourist walking along the beach asks him what he was doing and the Fijian man replied that he was fishing.

"The American tourist recommended he tie two to three lines on sticks and he would catch more fish and sell it and earn more money and then told him he could "do what he really wanted to do".

"The Fijian man replied 'I'm doing what I want to do'. That was a story that was told to me in 1971 or 1972 and I believe that it is very true for Fiji and that has brought me back to Fiji on a regular basis."

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