Playing Tourist at Home

Those that know me are probably well aware of my Parrothead past. I am a Jimmy Buffett fan. I've attended several of his concerts, in full Parrothead regalia I might add, and I always make a point to hit up Margaritaville whenever I find myself in the neighborhood. Margaritaville is his flagship restaurant and bar, where you can step inside get a cheeseburger in paradise with a side of relaxed island hospitality. Even with a plethora of restaurants to choose from, this island gal found herself compulsively drawn to cheery tropical decor and reggae beats of Margaritaville Las Vegas one cold winter's day. Needless to say, I slipped inside to indulge in a margarita to warm my disposition and my soul.

I'm not quite sure where the infatuation to Jimmy Buffett's music stemmed from. I listen to all genres of music and JB is focused on lively, feel-good entertainment but I wouldn't put him up on a pedestal with The Beatles. However, I do clearly remember those bitter cold days in Western New York, dreaming of palm trees and rum drinks, and the very person that took me there was the music of Jimmy Buffett. He even has a lyric in one of his songs that goes...

"There freezin' up in Buffalo, stuck in their cars
While I'm lyin' here 'neath the sun and the stars"

He is referencing a terrible snowstorm some years back that left people stranded in their vehicles on the freeway after so much snow had accumulated so quickly. The day I heard that song was the day I knew I was meant for warmer weather. When I hopped onto a sailboat, cast the lines and sailed off into the sunset, Jimmy Buffett was the there as the soundtrack to my newly-found tropical existence. He has created a sense of escapism, a portrayal that life is simply better when surrounded by palm trees and turquoise water lapping onto a white sandy beach. I completely agree with him, and I like to think I too, portray that image.

There are moments that I experience while living in The Bahamas that just seem so unnotably normal. I wake up to my alarm clock, shower, sit in traffic on my way to work, do my grocery shopping and pay my bills, just like everyone else in the civilized world. The only differences are that along my commute I'm staring at breathtaking views of the ocean out of my car window, unless otherwise necessary I live in flip-flops, I hop on a boat on the weekends and head to a deserted beach, and from time to time, I end up at some touristy beach bar that makes me feel like I'm on vacation in my own town. A staycation, as I believe the new catch phrase is, meaning you stay close to home but indulge in something touristy that makes you feel like you're on vacation.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I found myself on Paradise Island attending a motivational speech at Atlantis. After the talk, my companions and I agreed that all that motivation had made us famished. Atlantis is known to those of us that live here for overpriced, somewhat mediocre restaurants, so we decided to venture elsewhere. "Elsewhere" led us to the newly opened Maragaritaville Bahamas. Evidently Jimmy Buffett himself had been visiting recently. Alas, we had just missed him.

We walked in and the open air, breezy tropical decor made us feel welcomed and relaxed. We made ourselves comfortable at a small table under the shade of a lofty umbrella, alongside the bustling docks. We watched the dive boats, booze cruises and local ferries come and go. Although it was still a little early for cocktails, we all agreed that a trip to Margaritaville warranted at least trying their margaritas. Plus we had no agenda for the remainder of the afternoon. One margarita turned into three and the hours slipped by. The familiar songs of Radio Margaritaville serenaded us in the background, as we slowly eased into a tranquil heady buzz of tequila.

"Wastin' away again in Margaritaville..."

The sun sank under the umbrella and warmed our faces. Tourists in loud, pastel-colored apparel boisterously bantered with the bartenders, finding amusement in the local Bahamian dialect, which I find so familiar now. Seagulls jockeyed for position, cackling loudly as they waited for a stray French fry to slip off of an unsuspecting plate. We eased our hunger with tasty island dishes like fish tacos, jerk chicken and smoked fish dip. The waiter was jovial and pleasant. I'm sure he was used to overly exuberant tourists, wide-eyed and in full vacation mode, and our tequila-lined grins allowed us to slot right in, at least for this particular afternoon.

Peacefully content, we sipped on the last drops of our vacation for the afternoon. But then, unlike vacation, we simply hopped in our car and drove back home to the other side of the island. No packing and unpacking, waiting in airport security lines and no jetlag. It was probably the most affordable holiday I had ever been on, and worth every penny.

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