The tourism project in the community of Agua Fría on the Telica Volcano is in full swing. The market for tourism on the volcano is currently dominated by external tourism organisations. The central aim of this project is to see a share of profits stay within the communities who live in this beautiful area. Members of the tourism cooperative have established solid foundations for the construction of a hostel, a visitors’ centre and café. Many hours had to be spent moving back and forth to bring construction materials to the isolated community. This is one of the reasons why Nuevas Esperanzas recruited a giant new member to the team: the UNIMOG.
Mercedes Benz describes the "indestructible" machine as "one of the living legends in automotive engineering". While this could be seen as an advertising ploy, those familiar with this particular model of truck will be fully aware that its reputation is well deserved. In Denmark, four UNIMOGS have been redesigned to rescue people in distress at sea, fitted with high-tech search and rescue equipment such as radar systems and high-pressure harpoons. Anything is possible!
The UNIMOG was adopted into the Nuevas Esperanzas family about 18 months ago and has been assigned a task worthy of such a vehicle. Its first job is to ascend the Telica Volcano, bringing the necessary materials for the tourism project to the area. The journey from Nuevas Esperanzas’ office to the community is long and incredibly demanding for any vehicle as it attempts to manoeuvre the narrow and rocky paths. A very competent and confident operator is required to accomplish this feat.
Much of the time, that smooth operator is Yamil, who seems to have a love-hate relationship with the vehicle. As the UNIMOG ascends the rocky pathways, (far better suited for horseback than gigantic truck) he has to manage eight different gears while gripping the steering wheel tightly as it bumps and shakes. He says that his biggest challenge is dealing with the 'roads' to the top of the volcano. When the back of the truck is filled to the brim with construction materials, the challenge is even greater.
It took several months of renovation before the UNIMOG was ready for its first trip up the volcano. The first trial of the UNIMOG was a great day for Nuevas Esperanzas. The team headed out to see if its newest member could get them all safely up to the top of the great volcano. Machetes in hand to clear the overhanging branches along the path for this giant of a truck, the UNIMOG manoeuvred its way slowly but steadily past the forests to the very end of the track. Where the track ends, the UNIMOG can venture free on the volcanic rocks that lie scattered across the ground. Though it was an exhausting and anxious day for the team, it ended in success.
Plans for the UNIMOG go beyond carrying materials. Now that part of the job is done, the UNIMOG is being fitted with seats and a canopy to provide a daily bus service from the centre of León up to the visitors’ centre close to the crater of Telica. Once described as "a monster of a car. It will literally go anywhere, and that's something we admire", the UNIMOG is the perfect vehicle for the Telica bus. With space for up to 20 tourists a day to begin their tour riding up to the Telica Volcano in style, hopes are high for a long and successful future for the newest member of the Nuevas Esperanzas team!