Belize’s most modern Mennonite community
The Mennonites in Spanish Lookout are a self-sufficient people who run their own church-based communites and in keeping with their traditions, live in modest homes, with their clothing reflecting simple and conservative tastes.
The men often wear denim overalls and straw hats while women wear looses fitting print dresses. They speak Plattdeutsch, a low German dialect, as well as English.
Unlike other Mennonite communities that shun technology, the community at Spanish Lookout is fully mechanized. In fact they specialize in auto parts and are a major producer of dairy, poultry, cattle and vegetable produce, supplying much of the country with these commodities. Furniture manufacturing and housing are two other important economic activities.
Discovery of Oil
A Mennonite farmer dug a shallow water well a few years back and found a viscous black liquid seeping into the water. Given Belize’s disappointing record of oil exploration, stretching back to its years under British rule, nearly everyone shrugged off the story.
Today, wells dotting the landscape are producing 5,000 barrels of oil a day, similar in quality to the prized low-sulfur crude from the oil fields of West Texas.
Belize is now an exporter of oil to the United States, a development that is having an impact on this small country of 350,000 people.
In 1958 the first two groups of Mennonite settlers left their farms in northern Mexico and made the migration to Belize, then a strange and unknown land named British Honduras. These settlers planted corn, beans, and other crops, and started raising chicken and dairy cows.
In the 1960’s, Spanish Lookout made great strides in agriculture. Unlike the more traditional Mennonite settlement at Barton Creek, that do not use mechanized technology, the Spanish Lookout Mennonites bought old inexpensive machinery to use on the fields. Their economy improved rapidly. Today there are feed mills, a dairy and huge stretches of farmland alongside stores and dealerships for machinery, farm equipment and autos.
Since the paving of the entry road, the community has evolved into a rapidly expanding, commercial and agricultural center, specializing in furniture making, prefabricated wood houses, home and industrial roof products, aggregates and hardware distribution.
Spanish Lookout features the largest stores, with the largest selection, in the area and is frequented as a shopping center by Belizean’s from the Cayo area.
Birding at Aguacate Lagoon Reserve
Aguacate Lagoon Reserve, located about 20 minutes beyond the entry road, features an un-excavated Maya site, crocodile pond with a chance to see howler monkeys.
Poor Joe’s trail takes you into the forest surrounding the lake where many native orchid species hang from trees.
The lake itself attracts water birds, such as the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Night Herons, Anhinga’s and Neo tropic Cormorants.