Saturday, February 7, 2009

Germans in Yucatan

I went to Sam's Club and to Wal-Mart today. Yep, just like back home. They are super popular here in Mexico.

When you get homesick for a little touch of Missouri, you can always stop into a Wal-Mart de Mexico. And, today, it was even MORE like Missouri. I thought I had been magically teleported from here back to Warsaw, Missouri. There in the food court sat three large families of blond, blue-eyed Mennonites in bib overalls, and the ladies in bonnets. Little tow-headed kids running around. Speaking German (and Spanish as well).

It really is startling. Just when you've become accustomed to a mestizo Mayan Indian/Spanish cultural're in the middle of folks that look like Missouri country farmers. I know that there was a large Mennonite settlement up in Chihuahua. Very successful. But I didn't know that they were down this far southeast in the country.

Here's an explanation from Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online:
Land shortage led the Old Colony Mennonites of the Durango Colony at Nuevo Ideal, Durango State, Mexico, to look for new tracts of land in the early 1980s. A number of states made offers, but always problems with "ejido " lands (communal land destined to be cultivated by landless Mexicans) loomed on the horizon. When in 1983 the State of Campeche offered several thousand hectares and conditions seemed favorable, the mother colony in Durango decided to buy the land. Immediately settlement began with 88 families near the town of Hopelchen. By 1987 the new colony had 737 inhabitants, of which 211 were church members. Six schools, with as many teachers, were in operation. Two of them also served as meetinghouses for Sunday morning worship services.

The two colonies in Zacatecas State, La Batea and La Honda, also had daughter colonies in Campeche, the former consisting of about 30 families, adjacent to the "Durango" colony; the latter, consisting of ca. 40 families and located 50 km. (30 mi.) to the southeast. The La Honda colony, begun in 1987, was optimistic about the choice of terrain and more families were expected to follow.

In all colonies High and Low German only were used in church and school. Agriculture, with accommodations to the regional climatic and soil conditions, was the main occupation.