By Alexis Bonoff

The day of the 25th celebration started off grey. It was perfect weather to work on decorating Ruben Dario elementary school and there were many hands helping, both Nicaraguan and American. We blew up balloons, hung streamers and displayed photos. Estela twisted palm fronds to make an arch in the entrances, and the band set up in front.

When we went back to change and eat lunch, disaster struck. The grey skies turned black and a downpour bled the streamers and sent the band running for tarps. With heavy hearts we returned—only to find the school just as colorful, if a little wet.

The delegation, proud in our beautiful new Anniversary tee shirts, sat in the front row. The seats filled up as people came in droves. My host mother from Balgue sat under the next tent with Jenny Diaz—still elated from her trip to Bainbridge for the first part of the Sister Islands’ anniversary celebration. I saw scholarship students, host families, librarians, English teachers, coffee farmers, and so many more who have participated in or benefited from the Islas Hermanas Association.

After the presentation and dances, we lined up for more food than we could eat. The tables were full of laughter and sharing, and delegation members mixed in with old and new friends. It didn’t matter if there was rain or sun, the mood was ecstatic and loving.

In 25 years, the Sister Islands Association has blossomed from a dream into a gift for two islands, two very different peoples whose joy to be together is palpable. This day, as with each day I live on Ometepe, I am honored and humble to be a part of such a wonderful organization. With a glass of rojita in my hand, I salute Kim and Ela, Dora and Estela, my Balgue family and everyone who has been a part of the BOSIA journey: Here’s to 25 more!

Alexis first visited Ometepe as a student delegate and now works at Si a la Vida, the home on Ometepe for former street kids from Managua.