The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle

Belize has a variety of Mennonite settlements spread throughout the country. Each of the communities vary in the degrees of strictness and live a slightly, to very different lifestyle, from the way of the 1900s to modern as in today’s technology and lifestyle. All have retained their unique dialect of an amalgamation of Dutch and/or German. Most Mennonite communities support their own rigorous school system and elect their own leaders.

One of the largest communities is the well known Spanish Lookout located on the north side of the Belize river in the Cayo District, approximately 10 miles from San Ignacio. Excellent business people, they are very prosperous providing much of the country (sometimes all) with an array of products and services. When building in Belize you will get acquainted with them very quickly. You can purchase almost everything you need from appliances, furniture, farm equipment, tools, hardware and accessories, electrical and plumbing supplies to groceries. One store, the Farmers Trading Centre (known as FTC), is of the same principle as superstore where you can get it all.

AERIAL VIEW OF SPANISH LOOKOUT


Photo copyright John Banman

This community also has many producing industries from dairy (cheeses, ice cream, milk…), to livestock, poultry, agricultural, beautiful wood furniture, all types of windows and doors which can be custom ordered.

The Spanish Lookout community is sweetly nicknamed the ‘Mechanites” as their lifestyle is very similar to ours in the fact that they use electricity, drive vehicles and use all mechanical equipments.

There are several Mennonite communities in Belize, two being at Barton Creek. Even those two differ enough in their way of life to be described separately. There is Lower Barton Creek, located nearer the Western Highway and Upper Barton Creek, located in the remote area of Barton Creek. This settlement can also be referred to as “Amish” as their lifestyle and beliefs are very similar; strict and conservative.

The population of the Upper Barton Creek Mennonite settlement is approximately 350, which includes Greenfield who together form one community. By the age of 40, most married couples generally have an average of 10 children per family.

They are quiet and peaceful people who live off the land. The Barton Creek community produces a large amount of the vegetables you find at the outdoor market in San Ignacio. Each family works very hard for the community and for themselves. They make their own clothes (the men in dark bib-trousers, long sleeved shirts, suspenders, and straw hats and the women in conservative pioneer style long dresses and bonnets), collect their food from the land, harvest honey, raise cattle, goats, pigs, and chickens for meat and eggs. Also produce butter and cream, make their own laundry soap and so much more. Canning is also very important as they do not have refrigeration. Monday is my day to visit, along with my dog Cluso, we do our weekly shopping for eggs and veggies. I also get the purest (totally organic) and most delicious butter, honey and peanut butter!

Their mode of transportation is still the horse & wagon.

There is nothing more soothing then laying in bed waking up slowly and hearing the horses & wagons go by… now this is the only kind of traffic that I find very pleasant! Sunday is their day of worship and the entire community gathers at the village church. On their way to church early in the morning, many of the families sing as they ride by and that is also a beautiful sound to wake up to!

TropiCat

Other Posts:

1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ How To Live As An Expat In A Foreign Country
8 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2

About these ads

24 Responses

  1. That’s an amazing piece of writing about the Mennonites. Frankly, I know nothing about these people. In this age where just about everyone is craving after modern lifestyle, that these people are self sufficient by their own initiative, belief and routine is amazing.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Bolivian
    .

  3. You missed the point? I would love to help clarify what you missed, but I am not too sure what you mean here… It seems like we are missing each other’s point!

  4. Dear Tropicat,

    Great article. My family and I are thinking of relocating to Belize to start a Christian community with 5-10 other families and would like to know if there is any reasonable properties around for such a venture. Also, are there any non-malaria spots in Belize as malaria freaks my wife out!

    Email me please.

  5. Hello Trevor,

    There are a lot of properties for sale in Belize, and they vary a lot on what they offer. You can have jungle or ocean, be on the grid or not, mountains or flat land… Prices also vary a lot regarding of the location and what the property offers (ex: off-grid is much cheaper than on the grid or close to a town, are there existing buildings or will you have to build from scratch, etc.). I don’t know if you have already been to Belize, but if not, my suggestion is to come for at least a week and tour the country. You will see how diversified it is! From there, it is to pick the area you prefer, write down your criterias (grid or off-grid, with or without building(s), etc.) and search the properties available in that area.

    As for malaria, it can be anywhere. But know that it is extremely rare and it is not something to worry about. But if you are worry about it, then it can be a factor on your decision of where to live… Mangrove areas usually have a lot more mosquitoes…

  6. I have read every blog you have and looked at all the pics. Question: Why didn’t the walls around the bathroom go to the ceiling? I mean the cats love it but I was wondering why you do that. I have been taking notes from all your stuff. (like the solar guru info) Let me tell you girl if we hadn’t had such a financial setback last year, I’d be down there tomorrow. I want to pick all your brain cells before you leave. I adore your kitties. Have a great day and I have Belize envy big time.

    • The walls around the bathroom (that would be the one in the cabana) don’t go to the ceiling for better airflow. And of course, when it’s fun for the kitties, it’s even better!

      I sure hope you can make your dream come true!

  7. My husband said the only thing he would add there would be a little hot tub or pool with a wooden dock by the creek. We adore the creek pics. Hubbie said little fishes or not he is going in naked. We are nudist at heart. I said he better beware of the mighty ‘little wennie” fish. They make decide to nibble and eat…. LOL! Silly guy fell for it. I had to tell him the truth that there was no such fish… Sometimes he is just plain slow. He had a question for you. When it rains how far up has the creek risen. I see the house has a lower back side; does the water get up on that corner of the house?

    • A hot tub might be nice in the winter as it does get quite cold, especially at night. But then you have to think of the power you’d need to heat up that water! As for a pool, the creek is so much better and definitely more refreshing when it gets real hot like it is right now. As far as a dock by the creek, during rain season when we have real good tropical downpour, the creek rises, and sometimes by a lot… so the dock might not be there once the creek subside, as when it is high, the current can get extremely strong. The house and cabana are built high up and when the creek is at it’s highest, such as last October during the flood, it did not come nowhere near the buildings.

      Who’s silly? Some of the fishes actually do nibble!!! At first I was jumping, but then I got used to it and now I love it! But they are small and don’t have teeth, so it’s more like a tickle! As for going naked, the only problem is that our property is located within a very conservative Mennonite community, so that would not make you too popular :)

  8. Does the creek have any edible size fish and if so what kinds?

  9. great blog,i found it through a friend of mine brad , i believe he is buying the property off you,he is a great guy and your property is right up his alley, i was wondering why are you moving away from paradise? thank you for your time..

  10. We live in central Tennessee and are located between two Amish farms. Our Amish neighbors are extremely traditional (no electricity, phones etc) and are simply awesome! Do you know where in Belize the more traditional Mennonites are located? Just curious.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Scott,

      Many Barton Creek Mennonites are from Tennessee, and they are as traditional as the Amish surrounding you. I am sure there are other traditional Mennonites communities in Belize, but I am not sure where they are located. They truly are wonderful people and neighbors!

  11. Hello,
    I like your articles. My gal and I own a farm near Punta Gorda but we live in San Francisco for the time being. W have a small Mayan house but are planning on building a home on the farm in 6 months to rent out for a week or two at a time and eventually move down permanently. Do you have a recomendation on an Amish or Mennonite builder you might recommend?
    Thanks, Lance

  12. Love your pics on the Mennonites,as I know alot of the Old Order Mennonites in Barton Creek and Springfield.

  13. i love belize my wife and i are going property hunting 1/10/10. we especially like sarteneja. looking forward to new lifestyle with our 4 teenagers. hope to live on rocky point. i will need lots of info and advice after i pick out property. feeling lucky to have found your blog. thanks

  14. Can you please get in contact. I am doing some research on the Armish Communities of Upper Barton Creek, Lower Barton Creek and springfield in Belize. Can you send me your email so we can get in contact please.

  15. Hi, Thanks for your great post, there are much nice information that I am sure a huge number of guys and gals don’t know.

  16. Hello Tropicat ! Can I write in french ? je suppose que oui :-)
    J’ai beaucoup apprécié votre post sur les Mennonites, qui m’intéressent énormément ! En fait, je prépare un voyage à Belize dans le courant de l’été 2012, avec mon mari (irlandais, moi je suis française), pendant environ 1 mois, en vue de rechercher un terrain pour construire et vivre les quelques 20 ou 30 années qui nous restent (58 et 61, jeunes et sportifs ^^) ; je suis en contact avec Macarena Rose et d’autres “realtors” mais je cherche une opinion indépendante sur la vie à Belize, les gens, le climat, le contexte social et économique, bref, un point de vue qui ne soit pas “commercial” mais objectif et”vécu”. Nous avons vécu 25 ans en Martinique, donc les moustiques, serpents, pluies diluviennes et fortes chaleurs, on connaît. Accepteriez-vous d’échanger votre expérience et répondre à nos questions par mail ?
    Merci d’avance !
    Cordialement
    Pascale Whelan

  17. I met a large Mennonite family on the way from Mexico into Belize not quite two months ago. Since we traveled together on a small bus into the center of the country, we had ample opportunity to discuss many things. It was interesting to hear about the sect and its history in Belize first-hand.

  18. Hey there thanks for the article! Do you know of any way to get in contact with a mennonite or amish family down there?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.