Saturday, September 2, 2023


By Tim Rohr

So, a bit ago, via FB, I learned of the death of Jimmy “Margaritaville” Buffet. 

I wasn’t necessarily a fan when he was big, mostly because I was living in the same Caribbean he was singing about at the time, and there was little access to any media other than what local stations were playing which was mostly reggae, soca, and calypso (and not Jimmy Buffet). 

Buffet’s music played to a mostly imprisoned, citified youth who could only fantasize about the Margaritaville I was living in during the early 1980’s. And it was a real Margaritaville…except of course that in the Caribbean islands I lived in, very few drank Margaritas…or even knew what they were. 

The drink of choice was “rum and coke,” or “rum and orange,” or “rum and anything,” or sometimes just rum, since at 99cents a fifth (in those days) the rum was cheaper than anything you could add to it. 

So economics prevailed and margaritas never competed with Cruzan Rum (made in St. Croix, Virgin Islands only a bike ride away from my home in those days). 

Someday (I promise) I will write a book - or at least an extended blog post - about those heady, youthful days in St. Croix when rum was cheaper than water or cheese.

But, for the purposes of this short post, I want to recall the night I spent “in Margaritaville.” 

It was many years after I had lived and left St. Croix, moved to Guam, married, and raised a family of 11 children.

It was August, 2018. 

I had spent nearly 48 hours flying to the other side of this planet to “visit” my two youngest children who had been functionally abducted from Guam a year earlier and relocated to St. Croix, Virgin Islands. It wasn’t a court-ordered visit, but it was close to it. Attorneys were involved and I was permitted two 90 minute SUPERVISED visits over the course of a couple days. 

It was a really terrible time. (The police were called on me three times - another story.)

To get to St. Croix, I flew from Guam to Japan to Newark to Puerto Rico, where I arrived about 9pm where I would have to overnight in the PR airport until 11am the next morning to catch the 20 minute puddle-jumper to St. Croix. 

It was a familiar route to me, even though the last time I had taken such a route was nearly 40 years earlier when I first relocated to St. Croix in 1981 to teach at a local high school. 

The PR airport, at 9pm, or at least the terminal I was in, was deserted, hard, and cold. There was not a piece of carpet to lie on; and the hard, cold, ancient linoleum-tiled floor was freezing. I was in terminal B. And at the entrance to terminal B was a restaurant with the emblazoned name “Margaritaville.” 

It was closed. 

I lay on the cold linoleum floor with my head on one bag and my feet on another. I had the presence of mind to wear a suit jacket on this trip, not because I wanted to wear a suit jacket, but because it had lots of pockets for things like passports and such. 

I thrust the suit jacket over me and thought of my beloved youngest children who I hadn’t seen in over a year as I stared at the word “Margaritaville” and watched the biggest rats I had seen since I last lived in the Caribbean scurrying about Margaritaville helping themselves to whatever last night’s patrons had left on the floor. 

It was a long cold night. A very long cold night. I made it to St. Croix the next day and saw my children.

But it would be 5 more years of many more cold nights before at least one of them could be mine again. 

Good night Jimmy Buffet. Thanks for keeping me company in Puerto Rico. If for only that one good deed, I pray you make it to heaven and aren’t “wasting away” somewhere else. 


Your Friend, Tim

As a P.S., the following is from a story on Breitbart:

The song (Margaritaville) soon inspired restaurants and resorts, turning Buffett’s alleged desire for the simplicity of island life into a multimillion brand. He landed at No. 13 in Forbes’ America’s Richest Celebrities in 2016 with a net worth of $550 million.

Of course, those of us who live the "island life," really, know that there is nothing "simple" about it at all and that it is in fact notoriously complicated. Yet...those of us who live here...choose it...for reasons that don't make sense...even to us sometimes. And that's just fine.

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