Spanish Lookout with approximately 3,000 inhabitants, is located midway between San Ignacio and Belmopan.
The Mennonites in Spanish Lookout are a self-sufficient people who run their own church-based community and in keeping with their traditions, live in modest homes, with their clothing reflecting simple and conservative tastes.
The men 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, and specializes in auto parts and is a major producer of dairy, poultry, vegetables and cattle produce, supplying the majority of the country with these commodities.
Furniture manufacturing and housing are two other important economic activities for this community.
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.
Now Belize is the newest exporter of oil to the United States, a development that is starting to upend this small country of 350,000 people.
Well dotting the dairy farms, are producing 5,000 barrels a day of oil similar in quality to the prized low-sulfur crude from the oil fields of West Texas.
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 called British Honduras. These settlers planted corn, beans, and other crops, and started raising chicken and dairy cows.
In the 1960's, agriculture made great strides at Spanish Lookout. Unlike the more traditional Mennonite settlement at Barton Creek and do that does not use mechanized technology, the Spanish Lookout Mennonites bought old, inexpensive machinery to use on the fields. Their economy improved rapidly, and now there are paved roads, feed mills, a dairy, huge stretch of farmland and modern machinery. Spanish Lookout now provides a large portion of the food in the country.
Since the paving of the main access road, the community has evolved into a rapidly expanding, commercial and agricultural center, specializing in furniture making, prefabricated wood houses, tin smith, home and industrial roofing, aggregates and hardware distribution.
Spanish Lookout features the largest supermarket in the area and is frequented as a shopping center by Belizean's from the Cayo District area.
Birding at Aguacate Lagoon Reserve
The area provides excellent bird watching, as well as an opportunity to witness the unique Mennonite way of life.
Spanish Lookout is accessed by a beautiful drive through rolling hills of mainly farm land. Aguacate Lagoon Reserve, located about 20 minutes beyond the community, features an unexcavated Maya site, crocodile pond and you may see howler monkeys here. Poor Joe's trail takes you into the forest surrounding the lake where many native orchid species hang from the trees.
The lake itself attracts water birds such as the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Night Herons, Anhinga's and Neo tropic Cormorants. Look for raptors on the road along the way.