Jost Van Dyke in winter

“Margaritaville” is a bleak treatise on pain and suffering. Think about it: The subject of the song has has been abandoned by his lover and is heavily self-medicating with alcohol. He has only a declining supply of sponge cake to eat. His clothes are falling apart and his foot has been slashed open by a piece of discarded metal. A tattoo of a Mexican woman has been etched into him and he does not know how it got there. This is clearly a person in need of an intervention and a tetanus shot.

That hasn’t stopped the song (which is now stuck in your head, for which you hate me) from blooming into a gigantic financial enterprise built around a sanitized island-in-the-sun experience. In Capitalist Margaritaville, all the natives are friendly and all the drinks are cold and everyone wears floral prints and overconsumption of rum has no consequences other than temporary awesomeness. And there are cheeseburgers. So many cheeseburgers.

There are people who go to Jost Van Dyke looking for just that experience, and they quickly get irritated when they discover that truly bumming around on a barefoot island means that people will not wait on you hand and foot. They’re the kind of visitors who think it’s hilarious to talk in a fake Jamaican accent and act like an entitled horse’s ass around the locals. They get the dead-eye stare in return, but, like the song says, they haven’t a clue. They generally can’t take the vibe for very long and leave and tell everyone back home about how dirty everything is, and by ‘dirty’ they mean ‘not Americanized enough for me.’

But for some of us, it’s amazing that this place still exists and is relatively accessible. Jost is a British Virgin Island that’s just a few miles from Tortola, has only a few hundred permanent residents, might have a couple of dozen places at a maximum to rent on the whole island to stay, and mostly scratches a living by having fantastic beaches and harbors and bars. I fell in love with it after visiting it on a day trip from nearby St. Thomas in 2012. But could I take it for a whole week?

Oh, hell yes:



So thank you, Jost Van Dyke, for treating what ails me. I thought I got it before, but I really get it now. And I’ll leave you with the artwork my wife made while on Jost and had hung at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar, where it now has an honorary position below an old photo of Ivan and a woman he said he couldn’t identify:



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