*Update 3/14/2013: I have been told that arrests have been made in all of the most recent robberies on Anguilla. I’m relieved to hear it and now feel a bit better for the safety of all who live on and visit the island.
I’ve had several different versions of this post sitting in my drafts folder for over a month now. I had intended to somehow address my personal feelings about the recent incidents of crime in Anguilla, but I felt that my thoughts had always been too scattered to come up with a decent post. Now that I feel like my brain has settled down a bit on this topic, I’m going to try one more time:
Word of the crimes that have occurred in Anguilla in recent months has left me in a twisted state of anger, sadness, helplessness and fear. I worry for my good friends who have been victims of or witnesses to this crime and I wish there was something I could do to help them. As an outsider, though, I don’t feel I can do much else besides express my concern and pray.
Yes, crime happens everywhere. It is certainly more prevalent here at home in the Washington, DC area than it is on Anguilla – there’s no doubt about that. Occurrences on AXA, though, affect me more for two reasons:
1. Over the years of visiting the island, I have, probably unwisely, settled into a mindset in which I believed that nothing bad could ever happen on Anguilla. It’s paradise, and bad things don’t happen in paradise, right?
Now, though, this unrealistic image of my favorite place in the world has been shattered and it is absolutely heartbreaking for me. I know that this is really my fault for having unrealistic expectations and I need to come to grips with the fact that Anguilla has the same problems that exist everywhere else in the world.
2. When anything happens on a small island like Anguilla, it’s more likely to happen to someone you know than when similar things happen at home. In larger populations, if we’re lucky, it’s easier to isolate ourselves away from the “badness” because we usually don’t know anyone involved. On Anguilla, though, it’s a lot more personal.
Since I first visited the island, I’ve had too many conversations with good friends about their direct experiences with crime on AXA and it distresses me. You see…I’m a worrier. It’s a bad habit that I have when it comes to people I really care about. I think about my friends having to live and work every day in places that I now suddenly see as being so vulnerable because of recent events. I know it’s not healthy to worry about things out of my control but, I don’t know, it’s just seems to be how I’m built. I try to keep it under control, but let’s just say that I’ve never prayed so much in my life.
Do I worry about going back? The truth: Yes.
I feel that my reaction is the same as if something bad happened to someone in my own neighborhood, which has unfortunately been the case, recently. There’s someone out there doing bad things, and I don’t want to take a chance at becoming another victim. I’ve changed my activities here accordingly. If my local police department finds, arrests and punishes this person then, yes, I’ll feel better, but I’m not sure that I can so easily go back to that same level of comfort I had before. Maybe, if enough time passes without another incident, I might begin to forget my fear.
Will I be going back to Anguilla any time soon? Yes.
In fact, I have just booked my next trip and I’ll be heading back in a few weeks. Just like at home, though, I will definitely take more precautions and will make careful choices as to what I do while I’m there. Safety is a big concern for me when I travel. I can’t ignore what has happened, but I definitely still think it’s possible to enjoy myself safely in a place that I love so much.
I’m glad to hear that there are efforts being made to fight the crime situation on Anguilla. I hope that they are successful and that Anguilla’s reputation is not too severely damaged in the long run. It’s not fair to judge an entire island based on the actions of a few bad people, but the truth is that this kind of publicity is hard to play down when trying to attract new visitors.
There are plenty of AXA-regulars who have declared their intent to return despite what has happened, me included now, so we will do our best to continue to support the island however we can. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good solution, though, more for the sake of those that live on Anguilla than anything else.