Modern Mennonites and illegal border crossing (August 12-15)

August 28, 2006  
Topics: Belize

We finally managed to leave Copper Bank. We had a very hearty good bye with the whole Last Resort Crew. When leaving everybody was following us, some even by bicycle. The most interesting about our leaving was my carriage. Jonathan had done a great job in turning my unstable office carriage into a strong and stable travel carriage for the most uneven roads. The belt he sewed fit perfectly on my hips, and thus I was walking like a donkey in front of my backpack carriage.

The good bye with Fernando’s family was very short. Only Fernando was at home as we came late to say good bye. We were so concerned about leaving, as it was already 3p.m., that there have not been much emotions on our side. Fernando was very sad, but we hope to keep in contact with him and his family.

Helen and Warren, our Taiwanese masseurs, received a self-baked German style appel cake from us. They were very excited about it, especially Helen. A mennonite woman, who came to Helen’s treatment, was getting hungry, too, when discovering the cake. We were writing a few lines of thanks in Helen and Warren’s patient book, and afterwards were blessed by both of them. They prayed for us wishing this way all the best for our lifes. It was very touching. Afterwards we all ate the cake, and Helen took immediately two pieces. It seems we won a prize with the cake.

Corozal and Copper Bank we left behind and stayed the first night in Ranchito, about 5 Miles far from Corozal. We could not get another lift, but an invitation to stay in the garden of the house, which was standing right beside the road. In the morning we continued towards Orange Walk, and managed to arrive in Blue Creek in the afternoon. There we were invited to stay at the church’s community park. We could use the toilets at all times, shower outside on the tabs, and use the light in the evening if needed.

Blue Creek is a modern mennonite community, which is one of three being set up in 1958 when Mennonites from the old colonies in Mexico to Belize. They were in need of new land, and as Belize offered very cheap prices for land to activate agriculture, the Mennonites settled down there. There were three communities set up at that time: Blue Creek, Shipyard, and Spanish Lookout. In 1960 these communities were split into modern and traditional Mennonite communities. How this happened and why, you can find out when following this link: (http:……….)

We spent in Blue Creek a very relaxing time. We slept long, enjoyed a few walks around, and learned from a 14 year old boy more about the differences between modern, from which he is, and traditional mennonites. He spoke perfect English, but at home with his parents he is communicating in old German. He does not know how to read, nor to write old German. Insted, all kids are learning Spanish at school, as in Belize it is an important language. Children go to school 12-13 years. The school starts in August, ends in May, and is orientated on the American school system. As there are too few teachers here in Blue Creek, they have 12 teachers for 150 students, they use home studies a lot. After finishing school the kids are going to college in Canada, as Blue Creek has not got any. Nearly every inhabitant in Blue Creek holds a Belizian and a Canadian citizenship.

We were interested why in Blue Creek all kids are mobile, having either a motor roller, a motorbike, or a quad.In 2005 a new rule in this community gave children the opportunity to be more independent. Every kid, as soon as old enough to navigate a motorbike or similar, has got his own bike here. There are 12 year old kids parking there motorbike right in front of the supermarket, as well as couples of 6 and 8 year old ones refilling the motor roller tank at the petrol station. This habit feels very strange, but seeing the distances between neighbours, school, and other buildings it is understandable. As the roads in Blue Creek are private area, the Belizean government could not stop them doing so, in case they wanted.

Nobody here in Blue Creek is disturbed by the differences existing between modern and traditional mennonites. Everyone is accepted as he is. Only the kids of traditional mennonites might sometimes enounter slight problems in understanding why modern mennonites can use and have all things, which they are forbidden to own. This concerns all things that have a motor, as well as mobile phones, or e.g. Internet. But, as our friend said, these are only differences caused by a distint religions.

It was really a pleasure to talk to this boy, which was our neighbour from the hill in front of the church’s community park. He even brought us later a few eggs, bananas, and allowed to take ripe oranges from the trees of their garden, because we mentioned before that we intended to show up at his family’s farm to ask for a couple of eggs.

Beside the Blue Creek shopping center, which is nothing else than a normal Belizian shop with no extraordinary food, we found a hardware store. One of the workers helped us to change the handle for the carriage with cutting off two pieces. Now my carriage is even more handy, but after a few days travelling we know that it still needs some small adjustments.

Near Blue Creek lays the village La Union. It is on the Mexican side. Locals use to go there shopping, as the prices are much lower than in Belize, especially in Blue Creek. Though it is a border, there are not any border posts. At least there were not when we came, which was around siesta time. Going back and forth by boat costs 1 Dollar. Arriving on the other side, we were asked to register and pay an entrance fee of 2,5 Dollar. It seemed quite much, and in so far unjust, as we as Europeans do not have to pay anything for a 90 day stay in Mexico. Thus Augustas started to calculate loudly that it would not be worth shopping for us, when paying the entrance fee. When we asked for the law where the rule about the entrance fee is written down, the police man lowered the price to 1 Dollar each. Thus we went shopping, which was bananas, raisins, and oats. Oasts was the most important, as they are really expensive in Belize, and often not available. It was fun going to La Union, though the entrance fee was more than fake, and only to fill the police man’s purse. The benefit we had from our visit to La Union was not only the oats. We also found out that on this border we could cross into Mexico without any problems. We would only have to register our entering into Mexico in Chetumal. The best thing about crossing the border there is that we would not have to pay the 18 Dollar fee for leaving Belize, which on official border crossings we would be asked for.


  1. John Pascoe says:

    By crossing international borders illegally, you’re setting yourself up for (potentially) some quite serious problems – if you’re lucky you may get away with it without any problems; if you’re unlucky you can end up paying far more money to corrupt officials than you would’ve paid to cross the border legally, thereby making the whole illegal border crossing somewhat pointless. And you may end up being arrested and/or deported. The amount of effort that it often takes to cross illegally is often outweighed by the costs – personally, I’ll pay the exit fee and get my stamps!

  2. Jedrek says:

    That’s amazing! I’m going to Belize and Guatemala soon and I will try to use this method to avoid paying this ridiculous departure tax! I’ll let you know if it works!

    • Crossing from Belize to Guatemala illegally is an interesting and challanging adventure. However, be aware, that is this way you will not have Belize exit stamps. And because of this – immigration officers in Guatemala City refused to stamp our passports. In the end we travelled 6 weeks in Guatemela without having any stamps.
      Later on we crossed into Mexico. We were lucky, as we managed to pass by Guatemalan immigration without anybody stopping us (there were lots of people everywhere, and the officers building was a bit on the side from the road). Finally, we entered the Mexican territory and buidlings on their side, where nobody cared whether we had Guatemalan stamps or not.

      Good luck, and please share/report your story, we are very curious!