El Chile is an indigenous community located about 30 kilometers from Matagalpa, in the direction of Esquipulas or San Dionisio. This community is located on the slope of a hill with the same name, at a height of 900 meters above sea level. It is one of the few indigenous communities in the department.
During the 1950’s the dictator Somoza prohibited the indigenous people to grow cotton or create their own clothes. However, in 1984 the idea was born to give a new impulse to the indigenous looms when the bishop of Matagalpa demonstrated the Minister of Culture of that time (Ernesto Cardenal) a distaff of the old looms. Cardenal came into contact with Marta Ruiz, a member of the cooperative, who started to teach other women in the community this lost tradition, together with old women from the area.
Visitors have the opportunity to visit the places where women produce tapestry. A guide explains about the history of the project, and there is also the possibility to purchase some weaved objects.
A leather workshop called La Malinche is also situated in this same community. Here, a cooperative of women produces leather bags, purses, and other items. Another attraction in the area is to ascend the peak of El Chile which provides a superb 360-degrees view of the region.
It takes about half an hour in car or one hour in bus to reach El Chile from San Ramón. Public transportation is scarce, however, and the only option to find lodging in the community is to stay with one of the families under very basic conditions. The hospitality and friendliness of the people certainly compensate for this, though.