Family on the Island of Islote


A small number of large families make up the majority of residents on the island. Generations of marriages and births connect many of the islanders together as relatives, creating a community that is also a large family. The Castillos are lead by Maria Josefa Castillo Bonilla, a mother of ten children and 42 grandchildren.

Juvenal Julio Berrio

Upon arrival on Islote it is easy think of how hard life must be living on such a small island crowded with so many people. But soon after, one learns of the people’s love for the island and for their neighbors. “We have a way of living that is pretty nice. Here we understand each other, and any problem that anyone in the community has, we solve the problem as a community,” remarks 66-year-old native Juvenal Julio Berrio. A native of Islote, Juvenal worked the majority of his life as a fisherman but now is taking advantage of the growth in the tourism industry working as a tour guide.

Born on Islote when the population was only thirty people, Elena de Hoyos Alvarado, 87, is a mother of nine children and 42 grandchildren and is the oldest living resident on the island of Islote.

Elena de Hoyos Alvarado
getting a haircut

Islote residents come together as a community to provide for each other and make life on the island more fulfilling. On a side street Manuel Berrio Lopez gets his hair cut from friend Alberto de Hoyos Rodrique. “We take care of each other. When a person gets sick, it is everybody’s sick person. When there is mourning, everybody is mourning. When there is a party, everybody is happy,” explains resident Rocio Barrios de Hoyos.

School Guard de Hoyos

School guard Eugenio de Hoyos, 43, better known as Pepe, keeps watch over the island. Because Islote does not have an official police force, Eugenio’s job is to watch over the activities at the only government building which contains a school, medical center, and the community’s water storage tank.

Storeowner Rocio Barrios de Hoyos, 47, a native of Islote, is often called upon by her neighbors to represent the island when a leader is needed for political issues. “I like to improve my community because we islander women are enterprising.  Islander women are much more enterprising than men,” she said.  Rocio is the daughter of the island matriarch Elena de Hoyos Alvarado.  When talking about the island residents Rocio explains, “We lead a peaceful life, we live in harmony because we treat each other like family.”

Rocio Barrios de Hoyos
Birthday Party Islote

Family celebrations quickly become community events because of the proximity of neighbors. Jimeno Castro Berrio prepares for her tenth birthday outside of her family’s home where she expects over forty kids to arrive for her party.

Marciana Hidalgo Castillo

Youth on Islote make up the largest segment of the island’s population. The always present children become the island’s enduring memory for visitors to the area.

Marciana Hidalgo Castillo, 65, a native of Islote cares for the mothers on the island acting as the islands midwife. Marciana has attended over 200 births during her lifetime on the island. A mother of six, she works as a caretaker for the vacation homes on neighboring islands.

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