Spanish Lookout is Belize’s most modern Mennonite
community located in the Cayo District. Mennonites (founded
in sixteenth century Holland) run their own church-based
communities, with self-sufficient people, and strict traditions.
In keeping with their old traditions, they live in reserved
communities, maintaining the use of their dialect, and living
simplistic lifestyles as can be seen in their style of dress,
and their homes.
Spanish Lookout has, for the most part, been integrated
into the Belizean way of life, and this community coexists
with other ethnic groups. They are the major producers of
dairy, poultry, vegetables and cattle produce, and supply
the entire country with these commodities. Belize’s
most popular chicken, Quality Chicken, is located in Spanish
Lookout. Western Dairy, Belize’s only commercial production
of milk is also located here. Furniture manufacturing and
house construction are two other important economic activities
for this community. Also, people visit Spanish Lookout in
search of tires, parts for cars or machinery, as the prices
are some of the most competitive in the country.
Spanish Lookout is accessible via several roads, going north
off the Western Highway. The main access is near Central
Farm. The Central Farm entrance takes you across a river,
via one of Belize’s two hand-cranked ferries equipped
to transport vehicles. The ferry conductor is stationed
on the side of the ferry on a shaded elevated platform,
where the huge winch is located. The conductor will not
move the ferry until all passengers are out of the vehicles.
Two or three cars can fit on the ferry at once, while larger
trucks may pass one or two at a time. The driver is the
only person allowed in the vehicle when driving onto and
off of the ferry. If you are a passenger, be sure to get
out the vehicle. On our trip over, I jumped into the car,
and tried sneaking off the ferry as a passenger, when the
conductor noticed, he did not allow the vehicle to drive
off, and moved the ferry just far enough from the riverbank
until I got out of the vehicle.
The Spanish Lookout Mennonite community is spread over open
fields, with large trees that have been around for centuries.
Small houses with zinc roofs, as well as some modern ones
dot a countryside that resembles a scene from a rural town
in the Midwestern United States. Cornfields and cattle pastures
can be seen for miles. Part of the main road is paved, but
most are good gravel roads. The main road is lined with
gas stations; tire supply stores, farm centers and mills.
Children and adults, men and women are all busy at work,
and the community seems to focus on “production”.
They are hard working people, but are always friendly and
willing to help.