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Ocotal Cabin Welcomes Guests, Growth For The Cooperative

In September 2014, hundreds of people from around the municipality of El Sauce–and some from even farther–gathered in El Ranchón, the "home base" for the Los Altos de Ocotal (LAOS), to celebrate the inauguration of a new cabin. With traditional food and coffee, speeches from local figures and members of the community, and traditional dance and music, the celebration was a bright sign of what the future holds for the cooperative. In addition to the mayor and other local officials, members of the local media, tourism promoters, and Canadian delegates were present.

The cabin's construction was funded by PIMCHAS, a Canadian project, and executed by El Sauce's municipal government in order to help the cooperative as they hope to reach new audiences and increase the flow of tourists to the destination. Likewise, LAOS has been working with UPOLI, ViaNica, and INTUR, the National Institute of Tourism, to develop a plan for the cooperative's development, including promoting Ocotal as a tourist destination. Marino Valdivia, leader of LAOS, commented, "Not only are we organized, but we are strong. We are being recognized all over the country." Enlace Project began working with the mountain cooperative and their partners in the Manuel Lopez Coffee Cooperative and Fuente de Pino cooperative in 2006. The Entrepreneurial Development Program, which is now in charge of consulting and providing assistance to the cooperatives, is exited about the process the cooperatives have made. Since the inauguration, many local visitors have climbed the mountain to stay in the cabin; however, the cooperative hopes to attract international visitors as well.

In a meeting in mid-October, Enlace Project, UPOLI (Universidad Politécnica de Nicaragua), and LAOS met to discuss the future of the cooperative. Now, LAOS is working to develop the type of tourism that they want to see in their community; they are focusing on protecting the environment, something that is very important to them, ever since the cooperative was formed. They take pride in showing visitors the lifestyle in 'el campo' and showing them the natural beauty of the landscape–including one of the only pine forests in the department of León. Plans for the future include converting an area of the community into a protected ecological zone. Look out for updates on the tourism cooperative's projects.

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