In a country full of small, hidden gems, the community of Spanish Lookout stands out. This farming municipality with a population of 2,500 is a wonderful place to visit. Spanish Lookout is in the Cayo District. It is about nine miles northeast of San Ignacio, the eco-tourism capital of the district. It’s an enjoyable, easy day trip from San Ignacio, Bullet Tree Falls Village, Santa Familia Village or other nearby towns.
What Makes Spanish Lookout Special?
Spanish Lookout is in the middle of cleared expanses of jungle. Although it’s in Central America, it looks like a rural agricultural town in the American Midwest. As you enter, the jungle gives way to neat farms, grain silos, orchards, manicured lawns and two-story farmhouses set back from the road. Sheep and cattle graze on the farmland alongside modern stores and more.
It feels like stepping back in time. Spanish Lookout is a Mennonite village. Like the Amish, the Mennonites use old-fashioned farming techniques and wear traditional clothing. However, the Mennonites in Spanish Lookout are considered progressive. Although you may see very few horse-drawn carriages, many of them drive trucks and tractors. The Mennonites speak German among themselves, but Spanish and English with others.
When Did the Mennonites Migrate to Belize?
There were Mennonite communities living in Mexico. In the 1950s and 1960s, they began looking for a new place to live. At that time, Belize was planning to become independent from the UK. The Mennonites are pacifists, and they wanted to live in a country that didn’t have compulsory military service. Belize had to develop its own sustainable sources of food. The Mennonites were expert farmers who agreed to bring their agricultural knowledge to Belize. In exchange, they toiled the land and were promised that their children would never go to war.
Today, the Mennonite communities supply most of Belize’s poultry, hardware and building supplies, vegetables, cattle and dairy products. They have helped Belize develop a solid, sustainable agricultural industry that was key to its independence. Not to mention, the Mennonite communities also have excellent reputations as carpenters.
Things to Do In Spanish Lookout
Expatriates in Belize flock to the town to shop at the grocery stores, hardware stores and bakeries. There are other Mennonite villages in Belize, but Spanish Lookout is the largest. It’s a great place to stop for lunch. Don’t miss the delicious ice cream at Western Dairies or classic American fare at Sister’s Diner. You can also buy fresh produce, honey, eggs, peanuts and cheese from farmers’ stands or the local grocery. The Mennonites are a small but important group in Belize. Visiting their beautiful farms and modern developments in the midst of the tropics an unforgettable experience.