Last week I wrote an article about how Jimmy Buffett changed my life. In that article, I said that there are three Jimmy Buffett songs in particular that could be considered a description of my life. Today we’ll start off with the #3 song on my list, and we’ll move up to #2 and #1 in future articles.
The lyrics are below, along with my commentary on how it matches up with my experiences.
The third most fitting song
by Jimmy Buffett
Down to the banana republic, Down to the tropical sun, Go the expatriated Americans, Hopin’ to find some fun
In 2000 I left the USA and headed to a “Banana Republic”, The Philippines. The Philippines is one of the major banana producers in the world, and also has widespread political corruption (something that is necessary for a country to be considered a “banana republic”.
Some of them go for the sailing, Called by the lure of the sea, Tryin’ to find what is ailing, Livin’ in the land of the free, Some of them are running from lovers, Leaving no forward address, Some of them are runnin’ tons of ganja, Some are runnin’ from the IRS
This describes so many expats and why they leave the USA. I was drawn by the sea, for sure. I did not leave for political reasons, but I knew that something was ailing the land of the free, and it has only gotten worse. No, I wasn’t running from a lover, in fact, my lover was from the Philippines and we married 10 years before we went to live in the Philippines. I left a forward address, and even a mailbox here in the States, but after being there for a while, I found no use for it, and I got rid of my US Mailbox. I never ran any drugs out of the Philippines or anywhere else, nor did I run from the IRS. LoL
Late at night you will find them, In the cheap hotels and bars, Hustling the senoritas, While they dance beneath the stars, Spending those renegade pesos, On a bottle of rum and a lime, Singin’ give me some words I can dance to, Or a melody that rhymes.
This so aptly describes the life of the average expat, it’s eery. I never hung out at cheap hotels or bars, I tended to like higher class places, and I rarely drank by the time in life that I moved to the Philippines. Most people expatriate to the Philippines for two reasons:
- Cheap Women
- Cheap booze
It wasn’t my lifestyle, though. But, it fits a lot of the friends I had, and have, in the Philippines.
First you learn the native customs, Soon a word of Spanish or two, You know that you cannot trust them, Because they know they can’t trust you
Early on, I started learning native customs, and a few words of the local language, and later became fluent in the language. I am embarrassed to admit that I am somewhat rusty in the language now, but I practice when I can.
Expatriated Americans feelin’ so all alone, Telling themselves the same lies, That they told themselves back home
Sometimes being an expat does feel lonely. I did my best to fit in with the locals, though, which is not always easy. I came to the point where I preferred to hang out with the Filipino population compared to most expats. But, I kept many American friends despite that.
Down to the banana republics, Things aren’t as warm as they seem, None of the natives are buying, Any second-hand American dreams
This is so true, and I experienced it, especially in my early life in the Philippines. Many of the Filipino people are not buying American dreams. Filipinos are generally very friendly and respectful of Americans, but under the surface, I have met many Filipinos who are wary and cautious, worried they will be sold a bill of goods. And, they are rightful to be wary in my view.
Late at night you will find them, In the cheap hotels and bars, Hustling the senoritas, While they dance beneath the stars, Spending those renegade pesos, On a bottle of rum and a lime, Singin’ give me some words I can dance to, Or a melody that rhymes
The last line of this verse is a line that I love. “Words I can dance to or a melody that rhymes”? Really, there are no such things as words you can dance to or a melody that rhymes. But, Buffett writes great lyrics, and the melodies could almost be said to rhyme. Mostly his lyrics are why I love Buffett so much.
Down to the Banana Republics, Down to the tropical sun, Go the expatriated Americans, Hopin’ to find some fun
I enjoyed the tropical sun in the Philippines. I loved being an expat, and believe me, I found plenty of fun there. I also became a better person there. Many who move there go the opposite direction, and become a worse person, I’m glad that I followed the path that I did.
So, this is one of the songs from Jimmy Buffett that could almost be about my life. Not everything matches my life of 2 decades abroad, but a lot does. I always love hearing this song.