Once Again, Belize’s Colorful Local Cultures Make International News!

Belize’s Mennonites – Once Again, Belize’s Colorful Local Cultures Make International News!

Our regular readers may wonder why, not being New Yorkers, we often quote the New York Times.

Well, the answer is simple – we enjoy reading it, especially with our morning coffee, and every now and then we’ll find something about travel, or Belize, that we like to share with our readers.

So it was when we came across a recent NYT article titled “A Simple Life” about Belize’s Mennonite communities.

belize mennonite community highlighted children

Now, like most people in Cayo, we have a long and fruitful relationship with our Mennonite friends, especially with those from neighbouring Spanish Lookout – a Mecca for everything from spare parts to ice cream.

And the Mennonite’s influence spreads well beyond that pleasant pastoral community. For example, we eat a lot of chicken in Belize, and have the Mennonites to thank for its abundance and reasonable prices. Ditto farm produce and most dairy products such as fresh milk, cheese, and that ice cream.

Visiting Spanish Lookout is also a fun family outing for many Belizeans– if the kids came home from school to find you’d been across the river to Spanish Lookout, you’d be faced with “Why didn’t you wait for us!”

belize mennonites kids in spanish lookout

Something about taking that hand-cranked ferry across the Old Belize River and being transported to this pleasant land of rolling hills and pastures, with farms and lolling cows, tractors and silos more akin to Pennsylvania or Ohio than the rest of Belize, makes any excursion to Spanish Lookout an enjoyable day trip for young and old.

Which is why, over the years, Chaa Creek has added Spanish Lookout to their menu of tours, activities and excursions, including the Belize Cultural Grand Tour.

Yes, along with Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, European, North American, Asian and the other cultures, the Mennonites are an essential ingredient to Belize’s harmonious melting pot, contributing their own unique flavour and character.

And even among Belize’s Mennonite communities there’s variety; from the more traditional, conservative communities of Shipyard, Little Belize and Upper Barton Creek, to the more mechanised groups in Spanish Lookout and Blue Creek.

belize mennonite communities farming spanish lookout

In fact, if we had any criticism of the NY Times piece, it would be its concentration on the more traditional communities, but we also understand the time constraints reporters and photographers work under, and the desire to get the most interesting, exotic images. A horse and buggy is always going to attract more attention than a guy in overalls and John Deere cap driving a tractor.

But to us, this variety blended with harmony is one of the many things that make the Mennonites such a fascinating part of Belize, and why we encourage visitors to take the time to visit the various communities and get to know these industrious, sturdy and friendly folk.

Start with a visit to Spanish Lookout – an easy and highly enjoyable day trip from Chaa Creek either on one’s own, or in the company of one of our knowledgeable guides, or as part of a tour. With attractions such as tours of ice cream (OK – we like their ice cream…a lot) production at Western Dairies, new restaurants, and even a health foods and supplements store, there’s pretty much something for everyone, and we can promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Unless you’re looking for a bar… then you may be disappointed.

For an introduction to Belize’s Mennonites, or any of Belize’s vibrant cultures, The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s cultural travel specialists are on hand to answer questions, point you in the right direction, or organise tailored visits and tours. We’re proud of Belize’s harmonious multiculturalism and enjoy showing visitors around. Just ask, and you’ll discover that Belize’s people are as diverse and colourful as the land they call home.

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