“Auction” Mennonite style in Belize

Posted: May 21, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

by Scott Woodhams

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Mennonite auction ahead! We had heard about an auction going on this past Saturday on the Hummingbird highway, mile marker 31. We left Bocawina zipline around 7 am, plenty of time to make the 8:30 am auction. As we pulled up, my heart dropped (or my stomach as it may)! The auction was in the field directly beside one of my favorite stops, The Country Barn ice cream. Were they selling out and closing up the doors too? Nooo! There were several large tents set up. The largest covered many items, like hand tools, power tools, and household goods alike. There were beds, dressers, tables, chainsaw, refrigerators, and even a portable A/C unit. Outside was the larger equipment, tractors, vehicles, and a motorcycle. A little bit of everything seemed promising for a good auction find. Another tent was where the food was being served. Cinnamon rolls, whoopee cakes, and oatmeal cream pies, all made from scratch, were being offered with coffee or orange juice. I settled on the juicy cinnamon rolls and coffee. Looking around, I was reminded of the Amish auctions I have attended in Michigan. The men wore their traditional clothing with straw hats, and the women long flowing dresses. The children ran around playing tag, or hanging on their parents legs as they looked over the sale items. I am a self-proclaimed auction ‘junkie”, so it was quite a treat to find this sale going on in Belize.

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I love to sort through piles of stuff, looking for the gem of a deal. or just the excitement of bidding and winning the highest bid (hopefully not overpaying in the end). I set a top price in mind and then bid feverishly, showing no sign of slowing down, until the top bid is reached. But this is Belize. The atmosphere is a little more laid back. The auctioneer did a good job, but it was at a slower pace than I was used to. I enjoyed being immersed in the local culture, performing normal tasks of daily life. I admired the respectfulness and peaceful demeanour of the Mennonite community as a whole. It is evident, family is a high priority in their culture. I enjoyed observing those around me, the men involved in buying tools for the farm, the women sitting together chatting, waiting for the household goods, and the children well-behaved, along for the ride. I attempted to get pictures of people at the auction, without harassing or making anyone uncomfortable. A candid shot is better in my opinion anyway. I asked around about the fate of the landmark Country Barn. Would there be no place for ice cream on the Hummingbird highway anymore? I heard several accounts, from the farm being sold and ice cream closed down, to an agricultural school purchasing the farm. I found out the Mennonite family that owned the farm and Country barn, were relocating back to the US, selling out lock stock, and barrel. I also found out from the new owners (a mission group) that they will in fact be keeping the Country Barn operating! Whew! What a relief. If you haven’t had their ice cream, you must try it. It is all made from fresh ingredients and the cows right there at the farm. I waited in the long line to get a raspberry/vanilla swirl cone. Well worth the wait.

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With the captive audience that day, they were very busy. We purchased a few tools from the auction, just enjoying meeting and talking with people. The weather was cooler and overcast. A nice reprieve. We hopped back into the Land Rovers, with our treasures in hand, off to find the next great adventure! What have you experienced in Belize, that has allowed you to be immersed in its diverse culture? Please share we’d love to hear your un-Belize-able story. You can share them freely on our FB page “On the Road in Belize” thanks.

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Comments
  1. Hayden says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
    Thanks

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  3. Ellie Lopez says:

    Exceptionally fascinating piece

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