Back to the past

Menonites, their culture and our intrusion between them

Dzibilnocac ruins are neat and for free. You can climb all buildings and we are here alone. This is a perfect place to have a rest because it looks like Jan is in fever. We hope it is only a sunburn or a lack of water but no sickness. We lay, write, enjoy the surroundings and do nothing.

A horse carriage carrying weird dressed gringos passes us. They are around 20 and go to visit the ruins also. The guard tells us that they are some Germans, who live close. We go to talk with them and try to get somehow to their village for a night (getting to know new cultures is one of the goals of our travelling). The childrens climb the ruins and the parents sit in the shadow of a tree. Jan starts the conversation in German and I add something in Spanish. We ask who they are, where they live, how long they have been here… but their answers are short and we think that they don’t want to talk with us. After a while the discussion starts to be more bidirectional and they invite us to their village. If this is just a polite offer or they really mean it … we happily agree :).

Jan rides with the girls on the horse carriage and Elena (girl from the family where we are going to sleep) rides his bicycle. She drives like a crazy – so fast on this gravel road. I try to tell her to slow down, but she doesn’t. Then a downhill comes and I know this is going to be bad – gravel, sand, fast speed and … she lays on the ground. Fortunately she’s got just one palm scratched and a little torn clothes (and the bike is also fine). This is our fault – she lives like in past and we gave her our hi-tech bicycle and didn’t show her how to brake (argument that handle brakes exist long time is useless because they simply cannot ride bicycles).

Before the village they switch with Jan and we get like to a different world. The jungle changes to neat fields. Houses are big, made from bricks and concrete in a German style (really a big difference from a Mexican style). Anna and Johan live at the end of the villaged so the way there seems endless. But the view is beautiful – setting sun and the dust in the air after the horse carriage full of Menonites pass – like we came 200 years to the past. Around the house is a big property full of animals and 2 big dogs (they say they are friendly now, when we came with them, but normally they are not nice on visitors not wearing their style of clothes).

The head of the family, Johan, speaks also Spanish, because he drills wells for Mexicans and so he has enough contact with the world. The rest of family members can speak only an old German dialect (Plaudeutsch) and Jan is my translator. Anna sometimes says something but from the children only Elena asks couple of questions. For dinner we have tortillas, home-made cheese, beans and watermelon (there is not big difference from the normal mexican food).

And what we have learned:

  • 2000 Menonites live in this colony which is 37000acres large – their ancestors came 90years ago. There is no free space left here. The land is divided into 17pieces and every piece has its chef (boss) and there are 2 presidents. The taxes go to the presidents who then pay for taking care of the common things and buy new land.
  • They do agriculture, live simple live without technologies and electricity and every family has a big land around the house
  • It’s forbidden to drive a car, motorbike or ride a bike and they use only horses and horse carriage.
  • Everybody wears the same clothes – men jeans with braces, rattersall shirt and a hat, women a dark dress of universal shape, and a hat with a band. They say it’s warm in it but what can they do when they cannot wear anything else
  • They go to scholl in age of 6, but they learn only to read and count and then just study the bible – 6 years of reading evangelias. They don’t have any foreign languages, geography, … They learn in 3months intervals (school, free, school, free) and “holidays” have when they need to help at fields. After studies they work at home.
  • They can earn money when they are 17 – help on other farms, construction work… Women earn half of men’s salary and mostly tidy houses or sew.
  • Wedding is paid by the bride’s family and the couple then moves to their own house. Married women don’t work. They have as many children as God wants – many.
  • They have blue eyes, blond hair, their skins is light and faces are round – this suggests they don’t mix genes with outside of the community. This is unfortunately also a reason why they are not very pretty. Women are mostly fat (maybe because of many births or because they don’t wok – we don’t know).

We sleep in the kitchen on the floor and Jan get diahrea in the night – the bathroom is outside with the “friendly” dogs. But if you really need there’s no other option than to risk it. Fortunately they don’t notice him and he can go there and back how many times he needs (BTW: the latrine has two holes – it is therefore possible for two people to be there at once and talk :)). Jan eats pills in the morning, we have breakfast, I milk cow (I like coffee with milk), they show us their farm and animals (one of the sons fights with a ram – this is how children here play), we make some photos and with a pick-up truck they takes us to a nearest city.

We spend 5 hours in a library – they have a toilet, it is a little cooler here than outside and we write articles. During the night we sleep in one village in the middle of square in a open summer house (with permission of Comisario) and the whole night a lightbulb is lighting to our eyes – we find a switch in the morning :D


2 Replies to “Back to the past”

  1. Sranda je, ze napriek tomu ze je to taka komunita..ze Vas medzi seba pustili..aj s Vasimi technologickymi novinkami ako napr. bike:)..tym kubanskym by som sa necudovala, ale ze Vas pustili s novymi bikes?..mozno nie su az taki ortodoxni:)

    1. ta rodina bola dost pokrokova – mali aj jednu ziarovku na bateriu v kuchyni :) A tiez ze aj ich dcere dovolili sa vozit na bicykli… Mozno aj preto museli byvat az na konci dediny :)

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