Mexico – Lunch with the Mennonites

Tuesday, April 11th – Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico

Family portraits for the Mennonites were rarely done

We knew we had another long day on the bus today and Manuel advised us that he would love to leave a bit earlier if possible. Our congenial group was all loaded and ready to depart 15 minutes before scheduled – pulling out at 7:45am.  

It was wonderful seeing our driver, Francisco who we had left behind two days prior when we boarded the train. He had a big task of driving the LONG way around to pick us up.

The first part of the drive was very winding, and I felt sorry for Francisco having to manipulate our large bus over those roads. Those on the right side got some final views of the canyon as we creeped our way to a lower elevation.

One of several statues we passed by in small towns

Finally the roads straightened out, but then the road construction and detours began.

Many rock formations along the way

The scenery was pleasant as we passed huge rock formations, pasture land where cattle grazed, and rich farm land where crops such as wheat, corn or beans flourish. This is also apple country with acre after acre filled with trees just starting to blossom. According to our guide, the largest apple orchard in the world is in the area with over 1,000,000 trees. They have installed an extensive netting system to cover the trees to protect the fruit from getting bruised during hail storms.

A river flowed beside our road for a while

Getting ready to plant here

Our first stop was for lunch in Guerrero, where we enjoyed a visit to the Mennonite Museum and Cultural Center, followed by a typical Mennonite lunch.

Mennonite Museum and Cultural Center

I was especially interested to learn more about the Mennonites, as I had learned only a few years ago that my paternal grandparents were Mennonites. If this was ever discussed in my home when growing up, I have no recollection of it. It was only after both my grandparents and father were deceased that I found out.

“The Mennonites are Christian groups belonging to the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496–1561) of Friesland (which today is a province of the Netherlands)…Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to pacifism.” ~ Wikipedia

I do remember that neither of my grandparents smoked, drank alcohol or cursed. They must have given up some of the pacifist beliefs however since my father and his two brothers all served in the US Military. My dad in the Navy, his oldest brother Bob, I believe was in the Army, and his other brother, Don was killed in Italy during WWII.

The Mennonites had originally split from the Catholic church. Different groups facing persecution, fled Europe and large colonies were established in Canada and the USA. After Canada would no longer allow this pacifist group to not serve in the military, they made a mass migration into Mexico where approximately 90,000 now reside in the state of Chihuahua.

Many of the items inside the museum/home were so familiar to me. But not from my grandparents home, but from Tim’s parents. He grew up in a farm community in Illinois, and I swear in several rooms he felt right at home.

I had to pay a small $2 fee to be able to take pictures inside

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Our lunch was simple and consisted of sliced sausage, cheese, a variety of breads and rolls with butter, plus a hearty soup that was warm and satisfying.

Resistance was futile 🙂

Then, traveling on to Nuevo Casas Grandes.

Manuel changed our itinerary around a bit on us, choosing to try to squeeze in our stop at the UNESCO site of Paquime. Originally planned for the following day, but with all of the road construction, as well as border crossing, he was concerned about fitting it all in. As it turned out, our visit there was way too rushed and I walked away frustrated and disappointed.

“…a visit to Mexico’s famous Archaeological Site of Paquime, undoubtedly the most important ruins in Northern Mexico, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the 14th to 15th centuries the city was a major trading center, before the Spanish conquest of Mexico. View the maze-like adobe remnants and the ceremonial mounds in a broad valley with panoramas to distant mountains. Walk by the House of the Cross, believed to be a temple and observatory, and the House of the Serpent, where animals were raised. The site’s impressive Museo de las Culturas del Norte displays important relics that tell the story of Paquime.” ~ Gate 1 Travel literature

I may do a separate post on Paquime and the Archaeological Museum at some point, but here are a couple of pictures to give a sampling.

Paquime

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Our afternoon rest stop was at a small market where the local Apple juice was recommended. I tried it and am so glad I did. It is the BEST apple juice I have ever had. I’m now trying to find out if it is sold anywhere in the USA. 100% apples and no sugar added.

If you like apple juice and have a chance to try this one, don’t pass it up!

Our farewell to Mexico dinner was in Nuevo Casas Grandes, in a private home where we were given an introduction to the beautiful Mata Ortiz Pottery, one of the finest and most innovative ceramics in the world.

The pots were painted by hand

Following dinner, three of the pots were auctioned off. I was interested in the large, round one shown below, but so was another tour member, Gerry, who eventually was the highest bidder.

We were out bid for this gorgeous pot

Two more that were auctioned

Overnight: Nuevo Casas Grandes

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that I learned a bit more about the Mennonite faith and was able to tie it back to my ancestry.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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35 Responses to Mexico – Lunch with the Mennonites

  1. joliesattic says:

    Wonderful post!! I did not take the entire Copper Canyon tour as you have, so you’ve shared many things I never saw. We had not taken a designated tour but freelanced it so, I think I need to do that trip again. It’s interesting to learn about your ancestry isn’t it? That pottery is gorgeous.

    Like

    • I hope you enjoyed your time there. Sometimes doing a destination on your own is fabulous as it allows you to spend more time seeing or doing what interests you the most. The down side is sometimes missing one of the highlights that you might not have known about with out a guide. I still have many questions about my heritage, but it was good to get an introduction to the Mennonite way of life. I was bummed to not get the piece of pottery, although I’m happy for Gerry and hoping he is enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandy says:

    Have you ever had that experience where you were talking and/or thinking about something and then shortly there after, something on the topic appeared? I retired last year from Spokane WA to West TX, and one of my former coworkers recently moved from Spokane to back East. She had posted pictures on Facebook of her visit to Amish country. My first thought had been, how are the Amish and Mennonites the same or maybe how they are different. Having grown up in Montana, it seems there were Mennonites there but I’ve long forgotten what I knew, and here is your topic today 🙂 First thing I did was look up where Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico is located. I was curious if it was anywhere near Big Bend National Park and where I am. Looks like it is about a 7 hour drive to Big Bend from where you were. If you ever have a chance to visit the Park, I highly recommend it. Hopefully, the Park will be spared Trump’s Wall! Anyway, thank you for paying the $2 so you could take pictures. I have often wondered what my Grandmother’s stove looked like back in the 20’s. Some days I don’t even feel like turning the stove on, let alone have to cook all meals on a wood stove! The one picture gave me an idea if I ever wanted to convert my Grandmother’s treadle machine into a table. Well, thanks for the nice post and I like that you post a gratitude moment each time. Happy Trails to you….

    Like

    • Sandy, thank you so much for your in depth comment. Sounds like my post came just at the right time 😀 We have not been to Big Bend NP yet, but am hoping it will be on one of our road trips in the next few years.

      Like

  3. paperpopups says:

    Another wonderful post and photos.
    I thought Mennonite women always wear their hair up and all females wear bonnets out of reverence. Are you positive those in the photo are Mennonites?

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    • Sandy says:

      I have to quit reading, LOL. Your comment made me wonder too, as I’ve always associated Mennonites and Amish with bonnets. I only did a quick search and it appears they usually wear them but I couldn’t quickly ascertain whether they are circumstances where they don’t. However, in my post above, I realized I had confused the Mennonites in MT with the Hutterites. Off to more searching!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is a great question. I’m only basing this on the what the Mennonite guide, Tina, told us on our tour, but that was my understanding that this was a Mennonite family in the photo. But as you mentioned, all of the women we met on tour or at lunch did have their hair up, and I believe all had a head covering as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Terry says:

    Great trip. It is so funny my family is also of the Mennonite faith my 3rd great grandfather was a Mennonite preacher. I do not know when, but the family change to Methodists, which is how I was baptized. Can not wait for the final chapters of this adventure. LOve the photo of you 2 in the Mennonite community.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Widdershins says:

    Futile resistance! Heh, heh, heh. 🙂

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  6. Thanks for the history lesson on the Mennonites!

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  7. rothpoetry says:

    How interesting! I grew up in a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania. These appear to me more in line with what we call Old Order Mennonites. Mennonites vary from very conservative to not different in appearance than anyone else.I had heard of a Mennonite colony in Mexico. Thanks for posting.
    Dwight

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  8. Sandy says:

    https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-restrictions-about-clothing-for-Mennonites-and-how-do-they-differ-from-the-Amish Found this interesting but again haven’t found anything concrete about the bonnets. I did read they usually part their hair down the middle like the women in the picture. Another article said that it was not compulsory for young girls to wear a bonnet all the time but didn’t find anything definitive on women. And there you have it. I’m now done wondering 🙂

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    • Sandy, thank you for this added bit of information. Dwight just explained that there is a range of groups from very conservative to more liberal, which could explain the difference in how they dress.

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      • Sandy says:

        I noticed when I was researching that there are lots of different groups within the different Plain People, as some of the articles called them. I also noticed that some had conservative in their title. Wow, that must be really conservative! Anyway, it was a good distraction for the day.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I would have never equated Mennonites with Mexico. We have a large population here in Ohio, near the Amish. I guess I think of them as almost connected. Interesting that you have Mennonites in your family!

    Like

    • I too was surprised to learn how widely spread they were. According to Wikipedia, “Mennonites can be found in communities in at least 87 countries on six continents. The largest populations of Mennonites are to be found in Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India and the United States”.

      Like

  10. tippysmom2 says:

    Love all of your posts. They are informative and fun. It is interesting that the Mennonites moved from Canada to Mexico where they could continue to be pacifists. I do wonder why they didn’t just cross the boarder and stay in the United States? Seems like a long, unnecessary, journey. The pottery was beautiful. Sorry you were outbid, but, then, how would you have gotten it home on the plane? I would have been a bit frustrated with having to rush through Paquime too. Look forward to that future post. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

    Like

    • I believe that there was a group of four Mennonite leaders who traveled from Canada down through Central America and into South America looking for potential settlement sites. One of the biggest requirements was to be able to get an agreement with the local government regarding their desire to remain pacifist. Several places they considered were not willing to give them that assurance, but they were able to get the agreement worked out with the Mexican government.
      I too thought that pottery was special. But you are right, it might have been a challenge to get it safely home.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Michael Alesko says:

    While Mennonites came to Chihuahua for pacifism, American mormons went there to practice polygamy. Miles Park Romney, Mitt Romney’s great grandfather, led a group there in 1885 to flee anti polygamy laws in the states. Mitt’s father was born there. Family members and others, including Mitt’s cousins, remain and are successful agriculturalists. I wonder if Mitt would be building the Wall?

    Like

  12. curvyroads says:

    Your posts are always interesting and informative. I didn’t know about the Mennonites having settled in Mexico but it makes sense, as there are lots of cultures blended there after fleeing persecution of various types, notably many Germans who fled during and after WWII.

    Like

  13. joylennick says:

    Hola Tim & Joanne, What an all-embracing trip you’re on…Unusual scenery, culture, the arts…beautiful pottery, etc., Soak it all up, it will make a super travel book.(Especially with your fab. photos.) Continue to enjoy!

    Like

  14. MT-MOONCHASER says:

    MT-MOONCHASER who met you on SparkPeople.com chiming in –

    If you decide to do a little exploring in the north with Elly Mae, you could take in the national parks in Utah, go to Grand Teton, up through Yellowstone, then to Glacier and from there travel to Mount Rushmore. Should you decide to do that, from Glacier to Mount Rushmore if you follow U.S. 2 east toward North Dakota, you would come near a Mennnonite area in NE Montana. Towns with Mennonite churches are Lustre and Larslan. Lustre has a Christian high school that I believe is affiliated with the Mennonites.

    A bit of info and picture here – http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lustre_Mennonite_Brethren_Church_(Lustre,_Montana,_USA)&oldid=115862

    I’ve been following your travels around the world and enjoying your pictures and reports.

    Like

    • Hello, hello, hello! It is wonderful hearing from you. I had somehow not gotten the connection back to SparkPeople, so I’m so glad you reminded me. Isn’t it funny how connections sometimes just stick. Thank you so much for following our journey. We are indeed following your suggestions up as far as Glacier NP, but will probably continue north from there up into Canada since we visited Mt. Rushmore in 2014. I will take a look at the link you provided though. Hope you are doing well!

      Like

  15. Rekha Sahay says:

    Interesting post n awsome pictures .

    Like

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