Community Ecotourism Cooperative La Laguna

The northern part of El Salvador is an important tourist destination in the country, especially the mountainous region in the department of Chalatenango. Unfortunately, those of us who live here don´t receive any sort of benefit from the tourists who choose Chalatenango for their vacations or their weekend getaways A number or people come here to our mountains to do something different and break their routine. They also come to experience new things, eat different foods from the restaurants here. But those of us who live here, we don´t benefit at all from the tourists who come. We make our own jellies and other products from what we grow on our farms but we can´t sell to the tourists. It´s not easy for us to travel to the cities to sell our products I think it would be a lot easier to sell our products if we could get tourists to come and visit our homes and farms. We grow flowers, for example, and if we had a market to sell them locally we´d grow much more. I migrated to the United States because there is no way to maintain one´s family economically here. No way to make a living. So I went even though the trip to the U.S. is dangerous and risky Obviously no one want to go because of the dangers, but because of our needs we´re forced to go. Some migrants make it to the U.S., and others die trying to make it there. I think that if we were able to sell more of the flowers we grow here, our children wouldn´t have to migrate to the U.S. to work. If we could take advantage of the tourist market here, we´d be better off. Perhaps a number of people here migrate to the U.S. because there aren´t a lot of jobs. Or sometimes the prices of the crops we grow drop so that we can´t make money from what we grow. so the people have no choice but to migrate to the U.S The idea with our tourism cooperative is to build together a number of ecological cabins The idea is to work together as a community; we´ll help each other build the different cabins It´s a way to show solidarity amongst ourselves and our community. We know how to build adobe or cob homes, but we need economic support to buy the roofing or other materials we can´t afford to build the cabins. The idea then is to bring the tourists here to our community where they can have a place to spend the night. One of the families in our cooperative wants to create a mini-observatory for star gazers, Another one of the families has a beautiful field of flowers they grow and through the tourism cooperative we want to help each family grow their business. I have been growing flowers for 3 and a half years now The flowers that people come here to buy are the Peruvian lily, the Callalily, the Agapanto I grow pretty much all types of flowers here on my farm. On my farm I also have a beautiful place to watch the sunsets and I´ve thought of building a lookout for the tourists so that they can come and enjoy the view. But to do that I need resources to build the lookout and a way to bring the tourists here to where we live. We make strawberry jellies and peach wine from the fruits we grow here on our farms. All of the products we make are 100% organic and don´t have any sorts of additives or preservatives. The wine is simply fermented from the juices of the peaches we grow here. As a community ecotourism cooperative, we think that there are other ways to take advantage of our land, Not just growing crops, but also trying to diversify and take advantage of the tourist market. The majority of tourists who come here only go to the expensive hotels, but never visit our communities Thank you for accompanying us in our project!

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