It's been over a month since Collin McKenny passed away. Above is a video that I discovered on YouTube, created by some of her friends, commemorating her life.
Watching this video reminded me that I had to write an obituary in honor of Collin. I thought the video would be the perfect lead to the story.
A Seattle native and a banker by profession, she decided to chuck her corporate existence in the gloomy Northwest, and buy a resort in Fiji. Life was for living and Collin was a bon vivant. She would not be stopped.
She ended with one of the most beautiful properties in the entire archipelago, which she dubbed "Lomalagi Resort". (Lomalagi translates as "heaven").
It was a phenomenal place. The land and seascapes were breath-taking. Before the road was improved, it took a couple of hours to get there from town but well worth the effort. She took a raw piece of real estate and turned it into every's home away from home. The units were self contained so if you wanted to be alone you could do so.
Generally, that wasn't what people did when they came to Lomalagi. And come they did. Everyone from George Harrison to the Russian mafia.
I stayed at Lomalagi on many occasions over the years and never ceased to be spellbound by the site of fruit bats gathering at dusk and the sight of the Milky Way at night. Just being there was a privilege.
One of my most memorable New Year's Eve's was spent on the deck of her bure with close friends, sipping Veuve Clicquot under the stars.
There are givers and takers in this world and Collin was a giver.
Collin was a wonderful host and a faithful contributor to Fijiguide.com. She became my eyes and ears in Savusavu and Vanua Levu.
The last time I saw her, in January of 2012, we met in Savusavu in a park on the waterfront to catch up on local gossip and get some fodder for my blog.
The little mini-park was a special plot that she had just helped create in cooperation with the local Rotary. She was unquestionably excited about the undertaking, knowing that it would improve Savusavu's environs (which generally could stand some improvement).
Collin was an inspiration.
How many people do you know have the intestinal fortitude to take their job and shove it, and place a bet on Fiji? I suspect Collin never did realize her pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow but she knew that life was about much more that money.
Her brief collaboration with George Harrison, who came to Lomalagi, was priceless and I'll republish that story over the next few days.
Collin lived the life wanted and precious few of us get to do that. That's worth more than the pot of gold.
This sunset at Lomalagi was taken by Mika Leuck of Honolulu, Hawaii in 2009. Vinaka Mika.