Mennonites? In Bolivia? Mennonites! In Bolivia!

13 Jan, 2016 | J.Q. Cooley

Culture and Social issues

A Reclusive Religious Sect that Avoids the Rest of this Country

‘¡Mala gente, mala gente!’ a Bolivian peach vendor shouts at a tall, pug-faced, cocky man trying to buy things from her whilst speaking in a Germanic language. Near her, with another man not so tall, I speak in slow Spanish about Christmas. I hear them mumbling. Eventually, a shout: ‘You’re not Bolivians,’ the vendor catapults at us from an awkward distance, ‘and you shouldn’t be talking about Christmas!’ Sure as the summer sky is blue, we stop. But for all the things Bolivian that these Mennonites should not and do not participate in, Christmas doesn’t seem to be one of them. In fact, it might be the only thing these two people have in common.

With their holidays, their cows, and their fashion sense, this group of Mennonites came to Mexico not long ago from well-established communities in their European homeland. Though they are German in ancestry, language and custom, these Mennonites immigrated from the Russian Empire and West Prussia to Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, political disagreements soon saw 6,000 of them relocate to northern Mexico in the 1920s. Pedro Stein Salamanca, a middle-aged man of small words and big boots, tells me that his grandparents emigrated from Canada in the 1920s, and that many have since followed. It’s a sequence: from Europe or Canada to Mexico by boat or train; from Mexico, then, slowly, eventually, to Bolivia across the land and through the many years. Primarily, the 1970s.

As in antiquity, Mennonites practice community-based agriculture with a Christian agenda. Bolivian Mennonites are hardly different than their European, American or, for that matter, South American, counterparts. ‘I’d say 97 percent of all the world’s Mennonites rely on their cows’, Pedro cackles. ‘The same number probably uses their kids, too. For work, of course.’

Perhaps that’s why the kids scowl the hardest.

Though the majority of Bolivian Mennonites are, in fact, born in Bolivia, the question of their citizenship is complicated. And it doesn’t seem to interest many Mennonites. ‘I would estimate that there are at least 75 Mennonite communities here in Bolivia. They’re all over, but mostly here in Santa Cruz’, Pedro informs me. ‘I don’t give a damn about my citizenship. We give birth at home, we work at home. We only come here to buy what we can’t grow in the field.’

Walking through the market, I hear the familiar twang of my home, the American South. But it speaks a vocabulary I do not comprehend; this language, guttural and full of heavy inflection, is what Pedro calls alemán bajo. That is, an antiquated dialect of German from Saxony and the Netherlands. Twangy and slow, like iced tea. Or bratwurst. ‘It’s different from what those folks in the city speak. We’re different from Germans.’ Certainly different from Bolivians. Or anybody I’ve ever met, for that matter.

In my frenzy of trying to chat with these reticent individuals and taking unwanted photos of them, I get lost. So I take a taxi. The driver, amidst many warm-hearted bienvenidos and broad grins, tells me how keen he is on the Mennonites. ‘There’s plenty of Europeans in Santa Cruz, as you can see.’ He motions with his non-steering hand, and I see the pale complexions, the Western dress. ‘That’s not a problem. These ones just don’t even try to communicate with us.’

I ask him if he has Mennonite friends. He laughs. ‘Of course. They’re interesting people. They always laugh at my jokes.’ He pulls over and nearly punches the hazard button. He shakes with fervor, settles down and cracks a deep smile. ‘We believe in the same God. We walk the same road. I only wish more of them knew how to speak Spanish.’

Image title

                                                Photo Credit: J.Q. Cooley

Comments

Joeycodia
24 Jul, 2018 | 09:43
Hi how are you? We developed a unique technology for generating MASSIVE LEADS by targeting Potential Business 2 Business Customers by contacting them through their "Contact Us" form on their website. We can target potential clients by geo, keywords etc. You are welcome to contact us for more details. Joey
New Yeezy V2
14 Jul, 2018 | 22:56
yeezy v 2の販売,환상 판매,La vendita Yeezy V2,Yeezy V2 de vente,En el mercado yeezy V2. http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Zebra Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yellow Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezysupply http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezys Shoes http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezys For Sale http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezys Adidas http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Zebra http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Supply http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Sale http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Price http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Pirate Black http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Outlet http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy For Sale http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Cream http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Boost V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Boost http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Blue Tint http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Blue http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Beluga 2.0 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Beluga http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy Adidas http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy 350 V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy 350 Boost V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy 2018 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ White Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Where To Buy Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Supreme Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Real Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ New Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ New Yeezy V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ New Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Cheap Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Blue Tint Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Black Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Black Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Beluga Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas Yeezy V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas Yeezy Boost http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas Yeezy Blue Tint http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.com/ Adidas V2 http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy Zebra http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy Yellow http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy V2 Boost http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy V2 http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy Sales http://www.yeezyv2sales.org/ Yeezy V2 Sales http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy V2 Boost http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy V2 http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy Cream http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy Boost V2 http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy Boost 750 http://www.yeezyv2.top/ Yeezy Boost 700 http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Zebra Yeezys http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Zebra Yeezy http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yellow Yeezy http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ YeezySupply http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yeezys Shoes http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yeezys For Sale http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yeezys UK http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yeezys http://www.yeezysv2.co.uk/ Yeezys V2 http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ Zebra Yeezys http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ Yellow Yeezy http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ Yeezy Shoes http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ White Yeezys http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ Adidas Shoes For Men http://www.yeezyshoes.top/ Adidas Shoes http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy For Sale http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Cream http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Zebra http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Outlet http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Kaufen http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Footlocker http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Blue Tint http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Beluga http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Yeezy Boost 350 V2 http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Zebra http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 http://www.yeezyboost350v2outlet.com/ Adidas Yeezy Boost http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy For Sale http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy Cream http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy Blue Tint http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy Blue http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy Beluga 2.0 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy Beluga http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 750 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 700 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 500 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 350 V2 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 350 Boost V2 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 350 Boost http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 350 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy 2018 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Yeezy http://www.yeezy500.org/ White Yeezys http://www.yeezy500.org/ White Yeezy http://www.yeezy500.org/ Where To Buy Yeezys http://www.yeezy500.org/ Ultra Boost Adidas http://www.yeezy500.org/ Ultra Boost 4.0 http://www.yeezy500.org/ Ultra Boost http://www.yeezy500.org/ Supreme Yeezy http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ Yeezy Yellow http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ Yeezy V2 Boost http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ Yeezy V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ Yeezy Sale http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ New Yeezys http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ New Yeezy V2 http://www.newyeezyv2.org/ New Yeezy http://www.ukmonclercoat.co.uk/ Uk Moncler Coat http://www.ukmonclercoat.co.uk/ Uk Moncler http://www.monclerukonline.co.uk/ Moncler Uk Online http://www.monclerukonline.co.uk/ Moncler Uk http://www.moncler-ukoutlet.co.uk/ Moncler Uk Outlet http://www.moncler-ukoutlet.co.uk/ Moncler Uk http://www.monclerjacketoutlets.co.uk/ Moncler Jacket Outlets http://www.monclerjacketoutlets.co.uk/ Moncler Jacket http://www.monclerukjackets.co.uk/ Moncler Uk Jackets http://www.monclerukjackets.co.uk/ Moncler Jackets http://www.canadagooseuk.org/ Goose Down Jackets http://www.canadagooseuk.org/ Canada Goose Uk http://www.usnfljerseys.us/ Nfl Jerseys http://www.usnfljerseys.us/ Nfl Jersey Cheap http://www.usnfljerseys.us/ Nfl Jersey http://www.usnfljerseys.org/ Nfl Jersey Cheap http://www.usnfljerseys.org/ Nfl Jersey http://www.usnfljerseys.org/ Nfl Cheap Jerseys http://www.uscheapnfljersey.com/ Cheap Nfl Jerseys http://www.uscheapnfljersey.com/ Cheap Nfl Jersey http://www.nfljerseyscheapsales.com/ Nhl Jerseys 2018 http://www.nfljerseyscheapsales.com/ Nfl Jerseys For Sale http://www.nfljerseyscheapsales.com/ Nfl Jerseys Cheap http://www.cheapnba.top/ Nba Jerseys Cheap http://www.cheapnba.top/ Nba Jerseys 2018 http://www.cheapnba.top/ Nba Jerseys http://www.uscheapjerseys.us.com/ Cheap Jerseys http://www.uscheapjerseys.us.com/ Cheap Jersey 2018 Us http://www.uscheapjerseys.us.com/ Cheap China Jerseys http://www.air-max2018.com/ Air Max 2018 http://www.air-max2018.com/ 2018 Nike Air Max http://www.air-max2018.com/ 2018 Air Max http://www.nikeairvapormax.top/ Nike Vapormax http://www.nikeairvapormax.top/ Nike Air Vapor Max http://www.vapor-max.com/ Vapormax http://www.vapor-max.com/ Vapor Max Nike http://www.vapor-max.com/ Vapor Max http://www.vapormax2018.org Vapormax 2018 http://www.vapormax2018.org Vapormax http://www.vapormax2018.org Vapor Max Nike http://www.vapormax2018.org Vapor Max http://russia2018jersers.com/ 2018 http://russia2018jersers.com/ Worldcup 2018 http://russia2018jersers.com/ World Cup Soccer 2018 http://russia2018jersers.com/ World Cup Russia 2018 http://www.footballjerseycheap.com/ World Cup Russia http://www.footballjerseycheap.com/ World Cup Football 2018 http://www.footballjerseycheap.com/ World Cup Football http://www.footballjerseycheap.com/ World Cup 2018 http://www.warriors-gs.com/ Warriors Jersey http://www.warriors-gs.com/ Nba Warriors http://www.warriors-gs.com/ Golden State Warriors http://www.michael-kors-bags.us/ Michael Kors Factory Sale http://www.michael-kors-bags.us/ Michael Kors bags http://www.michael-kors-bags.us/ Michael Kors http://www.jordan-air.us/ Jordan Air http://www.jordan-air.us/ Cheap Jordan Shoes http://www.jordan-air.us/ Air Jordan Shoes http://www.jordan-air.us/ Air Jordan http://www.asics.us.com/ Asics Shoes http://www.asics.us.com/ Asics http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Cheap Fitflop http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Fitflop Clearance http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Fitflop Sale Clearance http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Discount Fitflop http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Fitflop Outlet http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Fitflop Clearance Outlet http://www.clearancefitflop.com/ Clearance Fitflop http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Cheap Pandora Charms http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Charms Sale Clearance http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Charms http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Wholesale Pandora Jewellery http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Wholesale http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Jewellery Wholesale http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Jewelry http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Outlet http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Charms Outlet http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Rings http://www.pandorajewellerywholesale.co.uk/ Pandora Bracelets http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Canada Goose http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Canada Goose UK http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Down Jackets For Women http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Canada Goose UK Jacket http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Canada Goose Jacket UK http://www.canadagoosejacketuk.co.uk/ Canada Goose Jacket
Alice
29 Jun, 2018 | 17:38
Nice, nuanced article! Well appreciated as we have just arrived in Santa Cruz and we were curious the divergent population. Sorry about the white supremacism of the above comment!
Deanna
18 Aug, 2017 | 23:55
Is the Mennonite community growing in Bolivia for sure? I hear the population is set to double every 15 years. If so, I'd say this is a good thing considering most european countries along with the U.S., Australia/New Zealand and Canada have below replacement level birth rates for white caucasians.

Make a comment

Captcha image