Mennonites in Mexico~
I'm surprised to find blond haired, blue eyed people here selling baked goods on the street corners in Torreon shortly after we arrived. Large colonies of Mennonite people live in Northern Mexico. They settled here in the 1920's in barren areas of Northern Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican government. The government then wanted to settle the isolated areas of the Northern Mexican states of Coahuila & Chihuahua. They sold the land to the Mennonites with agreements for tolerance of religous differences as well as exemptions from military service & ability to remain independent & stay outside the mainstream of Mexican society. Part of the agreement stated that if they would produce the bulk of cheeses needed in Northern Mexico they would be free of Mexican taxes for 100 years.(hmmm, cheap land, no taxes, make some cheese...sounds pretty good!) The Mennonites speak a very old dialect of German not spoken in Germany since the 1800's. The men wear overalls with a hat of some sort & the women wear clothing similar to the American Amish. The Mennonite schooling for the young men ends at 13 and at 12 for the girls; from that point on they are considered educated & are expected to contribute to their communities. On many week days the young Mennonites are seen selling their baked goods on Torreon street corners to passing motorists. The elder Mennonites arrive in town & make business arrangements at the local Mercados & to deliver their famous Mennonite Queso. Mennonite Queso when not made by the Mennonites is called Queso Chihuahua. There are times when I think it is very strange to see these people who seem to be out of time & place here in Mexico~ then on the other hand sometimes I hardly notice them. I guess they are just a part of the landscape that has become Mexico for us here in Torreon. Yet it seems strange that these people are such a part of Northern Mexico when they settled here to remain so separate. Somehow I doubt I will ever be a part of the landscape here!