To increase your handbag collection with some truly special pieces, head to the tiny village of El Chile located 30 km from Matagalpa. Any bus heading to San Dionisio can drop you off at the base of a hill that takes roughly a half hour to climb. The community of El Chile consists of scattered houses along a stunningly scenic dirt road. Eventually you will come to a brightly painted gate with a sign reading â€śTelaresâ€ť (looms) --this is the home of Marta Ruiz, an Argentine native who came to El Chile to revive indigenous weaving techniques. While the group was founded in order to combat the Samoza governmentâ€™s attacks on indigenous culture, it has since evolved into a means by which participating women can earn a sustainable income. As such, traditional looms have been replaced by more efficient Swedish-style models; nonetheless, the textiles produced are still native in design. The seven to ten women in the cooperative create colorful purses, wallets, backpacks and wall hangings which range in price from 2 USD to 30 USD, depending on size. Independent visitors should call ahead, 462-9210 or 416-1261 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Organized tours can be arranged through Matagalpa Tours. A five hour tour for two people costs 35 USD and includes lunch, transportation and guide. Arrangements can be made at Matagalpa Toursâ€™ office in Matagalpa.
Those who want to support the coopâ€™s work but donâ€™t feel like schlepping all the way out to El Chile can buy woven pieces at the Matagalpa Tours office or look for the Talares Nicaragua El Chile-Matagalpa labels in other stores around town.