Travels

Curiosities of Central America. The Mennonites of Belize

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One of the most shocking things we can find in Central America are the Belize Mennonites. These ancestors of European immigrants settled in Belize and other countries of America more than 50 years ago, taking with them their religion and their old customs, such as not using motor vehicles, electricity and of course speaking their own language, mainly a dialect of the German.


The Mennonites of Belize

The Mennonites of Belize

Belize is a country where the vast majority is black, Creole or with Mayan ancestors. This a priori for its location and history is to be expected, but finding yourself in the middle of the jungle populations where almost 100% of its inhabitants are blond and with blue eyes is quite shocking. Even more when they have not mixed with the existing society and also reject any advance of modern technology.

Like everything there are always exceptions and there are cases in which they have bought a tractor (few) or have opened some more western-style trade such as a hamburger. Even so, they are exceptional cases and or that we will never see is a relationship between a Mennonite and a person from Belize. This would automatically lead to his expulsion from the town.

Our first meeting was casually after leaving the Belize City a casual September 21, the day of independence. As it was logical it was celebrated in style and many streets were closed to traffic so as not to obstruct the parades, mainly on the Orange Walk.


The Mennonites of Belize

That was the real Belize and the one we all had in mind. A melting pot celebrating such a special day or so we humbly thought. Such a day as we would know the other side of the coin, the Mennonites and their curious society.


The Mennonites of Belize

With the rental car that we had brought from Mexico, we headed to the district of Orange walk. A town founded by Mennonites that brought us great curiosity. In fact, this curiosity came to us as a result of crossing a couple of cars pulled by horses and guided by people of Central European appearance. And as curiosity killed the cat, we took the Northern Highway until we reached Blue Creek, one of the Mennonite towns in the region.


The Mennonites of Belize

The appearance of the town was similar to other views of Belize, so it did not attract much attention. Perhaps the clothes were very curious since most of the Mennonites (men) wear jeans or bibs and women always wear dresses that cover their entire bodies.


The Mennonites of Belize

We were told that although the Mennonite movement is very old and has spread to many countries in America, it did not reach Belize until the 1950s. These came from Mexico , but its origin is Russian / Polish, of there is its language, the Plautdietsch, a dialect of the German bass.


The Mennonites of Belize

The bicycle and horse-drawn carriages are its main means of transport, ignoring the progress of civilization although there are always nuances. Some of them make use of electricity, others have ended up mixing with local people (few), trade with Belizeans, ..., etc. All this will depend on the settlement we visit. Some of them are strictly conservative, others more traditional and few others have embraced modern life.


The Mennonites of Belize

As is logical the visit to the most conservative towns like Upper / Lower Barton Creek or Springfield you have to take it carefully since taking any picture requires asking permission. It is also difficult to find people walking on the street because most are working in the countryside, their main way of life.


The Mennonites of Belize

How many are living in Belize? Well, it's hard to know. A population of over 10,000 inhabitants is estimated, but this is what the official census provided by the Mennonites indicates, which is not very real. They have the habit of giving the number of community members, so far so good, but for Mennonites, being a member of the community means being an adult.


The Mennonites of Belize

As the end of the visit and given the hunger that had entered us, we went through a local hamburger whose interior appearance was completely normal. Things of globalization.

Practical data

How to get?

Belize is always reached from Cancun or Guatemala City by stopping, as there are few flights and few direct from Europe.

There is also a bus that departs from Chetumal in Mexico and makes several stops until you reach Belize City and one of them is Orange Walk, so it can be one of the options to reach this area of ​​the country. The company is called Marlin Swords.

What to wear

Nothing special. We are in Belize, it is always hot and it can rain in quantity if we are in the rainy season. Perhaps the most sensible thing is to take some food since there are no restaurants in any of these towns. Everything will depend on how traditional it is.

Where to sleep?

There are usually no accommodations for tourists in Mennonite settlements except for the most bite like Spanish Lookout.

Recommendations

We can tell the league that we are tourists, so much as we walk through its streets we will not camouflage ourselves. If we are going to take a picture of a person, the most sensible thing is to ask for permission and, if possible, if we see something that attracts our attention, try to be as respectful as possible and avoid jokes.

Other places to visit in Belize

  • The ruins of Caracol
  • Lamanai ruins
  • Caye Caulker and the Blue Hole

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