During the last several years, as Little Corn Island became better known and grew in popularity as a travel destination, incidents of theft and robbery began to increase.
As early as the year 2000, hotels on the island began petitioning the government for a permanent police presence. Promises were made. Even a building was constructed to house the officers and the operation. But nothing ever happened.
On the internet, where the island had become known as a tranquil and unique Caribbean paradise, travelers began to post accounts of the incidents, and the island's former bucolic and idyllic reputation was called into question, even though 99.99 percent of visitors here experienced no problems at all.
In any event, over time we received a considerable number of letters from people. Some were people with reservations which they wanted to cancel because of what they had heard, others were simply asking for the Truth about the situation here. And the Truth was that Little Corn Island had no police. And though they were still being promised to us by one governmental talking-head or another, we had come to doubt that we would ever see them.
In a 'last ditch effort,' we decided to send copies of these letters and internet postings to a young woman---Maria Rivas---who just weeks before had taken the reins of the Ministry of Tourism. (We had never, after repeated tries, even gotten a response from the former minister.) We explained our plight to Ms. Rivas, showed her what the world was saying about this fair island, and told her that we were starting to feel as though we might have to close our doors, rather than continue inviting people to a country that could not (would not) offer them basic police protection and services.
Ms. Rivas acted. And she acted swiftly and decisively. In less than 24 hours a delegation from her Ministry was on the island, accompanied by the national head of tourist police, the police captain from Big Corn Island, and three officers that had been permanently assigned, that day, to Little Corn Island.
As of September 3, 2005, there is a permanent police delegation on Little Corn Island.
We are still living on the very outer edges, the frontier, of a remote sector of a Third World country. (This, of course, is the very attraction that brought us here ten years ago.) But while we know that our newly welcomed police force is not an ironclad guarantee that there will not be future incidents on this island, (in fact: it would be an error in judgment and planning not to expect them) we have now an ample and able force to patrol the 1100 acre island, serve as a deterrent, and to act as an armed and ready force when that deterrent is insufficient and such incidences occur. Essentially, we are like every other tourist destination in this regard, except that we have more police per capita---one for every 250 people---than almost any other place imaginable.
If you are an adventurous sort, more inclined to a Road Less Traveled than one leading to more touristy-type destinations, if you love the blue Caribbean, her laid back people, and the prospect of a small island unaffected by cars and airports and T-shirt shops and major tourist hotels, then…you should treat yourself to a visit here. And you should feel as comfortable and safe about coming here as you would if you were to choose one of those standard, more conventional and well-trod tourist places you'll find advertised in slick travel magazines. And you should exercise the same cautions here as you would there.
If you have questions or concerns or would like to know more details before coming to Casa Iguana, we would be happy to answer them.
Grant and Cathy Peeples
You can email us at [email protected].
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