Lake Suchitlán is a tourist place located in the Cerrón Grande reservoir where hundreds of foreigners who visit the city of Suchitoto take a boat ride through the channel of the Lempa River, a magical place full of flora, colors, history and fauna that are observed everywhere.
In Nahuatl this place means, “Place of Flowers.” The lake was formed in 1976 with the creation of the Cerrón Grande Hydroelectric Power Plant that produces most of the energy in El Salvador. With an area of 135 km2 and an altitude between 182 and 234 meters above sea level, varying with the time of year, it is a beautiful a place to visit.
Different species of aquatic plants grow on the shore of the lake, which is the habitat of many birds and fish. Due to its importance in fishing, energy generation and wildlife conservation, it was declared in 2005 as a Cerrón Grande wetland for its recovery and integrated management, and for the promotion of the sustainable development of the surrounding municipalities.
And this is how Aracely Rivera de Chávez, has been creating crafts from the hyacinths of Lake Suchitlán to sell to foreigners and locals in the Suchitoto square for more than 25 years. This species of plant reproduces rapidly in this lake, which creates many obstacles for fishermen and local development.
But Aracely found a way to repurpose this plant after it is pulled from the lake. When the hyacinth is already on land, Aracely lets it dry for several days, disinfects it, and arranges it in strips of different sizes to design and produce crafts, under an artesanía, known as Identidad y Responsabilidad Ambiental, Identity and Environmental Responsibility.
Aracely de Chávez’ entrepreneurial spirit inspired her to develop techniques in handicrafts, which became her sustainability. To design just one of her many creations, like a purse made out of these natural materials, takes 5 days and are sold at a value of 35 dollars.
In 2012, JICA trained several people from different communities in that town for five months, of which a good number of the beneficiaries are carrying out this type of artisan work.
The artisans that make products through this technique showcase their crafts at the ferias de emprendedores, “entrepreneurs’ fairs,” where artisans like Aracely display their products for sale in the center of the main square of the city of Suchitoto where visiting tourists can buy their handbags, ornaments, earrings, and bracelets made of the hyacinth also known as, lechuga or ninfa.
In addition, you can travel on the ferry, “La Luna” that has the capacity to transport four vehicles and up to 100 people, being the only means of transport available to cross vehicles from one part of the lake to another, and to shorten distances of several kilometers via land.
Lake Suchitlán is shared by four departments in the northern and central part of El Salvador. Tourists to the area also visit the colonial town of Suchitoto, one of the most charming towns in El Salvador, a place rich with colonial architecture, where museums, gardens, artisans and wildlife meet.
Mauricio Alexander Cáceres García is a Correspondent for Latina Republic focused on El Salvador and Latin America. He is a renowned and awarded Photojournalist and Documentarian from El Salvador. He has extensive experience reporting on migration, community, travel and patrimony. His work showcases the power of human stories. Among his specializations, Cáceres has reported on “The migrant route” of the Guatemalan border, Mexico and the United States. Cáceres has a degree in Migration from the Universidad de Centro América, UCA. Cáceres has served as an Editor of the newspaper Más, EDH and elsalvador.com. He has extensive experience in national and international news coverage, studied journalism has won several photography awards throughout Latin America, including second place on a photographic contest centered on the migrant woman, and earning the Santa Clara de Asís prize for his report on the migrant route.