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The Bolivian Government granted a privilege to future Mennonite immigrants including freedom of Religion, private schools and exemption from military service in the 1930s, but that was not deployed until the 1950s.
Between 1954 and 1957 a first group of 37 families from different Mennonite colonies in Paraguay established Tres Palmas colony, 25 km northeast of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Soon a second colony was established five km away from Tres Palma by a group of 25 conservative families from Menno Colony in Paraguay. The settlers from Paraguay were experienced and well prepared to do agriculture in a subtropical climate. In 1959 the total Mennonite population in Bolivia was 189.
In 1963 new settlements were founded where Mennonites from Paraguay and Canada lived together. In 1967 Mennonites from Mexico and from their daughter colonies in Belize started to settle in the Santa Cruz Department. Las Piedras colony, founded 1968, was the first colony founded exclusively by Mennonites from Canada. Most settler in Bolivia were traditional Mennonites who wanted to separate themselves more from the "world". Altogether there were about 17,500 Mennonites living in 16 colonies in Bolivia by 1986, of whom nearly 15,000 were Old Colony Mennonites and 2,500 Bergthal or Sommerfeld Mennonites.
The first Mennonites Colonies arrived in 1957 in Bolvia invited by President Victor Paz Estensoro. Victor Paz wanted to populate the eastern plains of Santa Cruz. The main activitty of the Mennonite is the agriculture. They are focusing more on soybeans, corn, wheat , sorghum and other crops.
Another main activity of these people is the rearing of cattle. Thety also strive to have good horses. Because they need these animals for heavy work, especially in some of the colonies where no motor vehicles used to transport their products or individuals within the colony itself or nearby towns
In 2010 in the department of Santa Cruz according to official figures there are 61 Mennonite colonies. These people came from various countries such as Mexico, Canada, Paraguay and others.
Depending on their rules of each colony. Its prohibited to drive tractors with rubber tires or to work for outsiders. And in all colonies the mennonites are not alowed to marry some one of another race than their own.
These colonies have been growing rapidly because mennonites keeps caming into Bolivia. The other reason is that each family has an average of 8 children.
The new families need to have new fields of crops. So they are obligated to purchase big extensions of land. Each family needs a minimum of 50 hectares
This experience will be unforgettable because staying for a few hours into these colony is like being into another country. The reazon is that the house, field crops and the organization of the families, farms, and the language is very differnte.
Also the way they work and their educational system is unique to them. As well as temples where they pratice their religious services.
From The City of Santa Cruz
Tour of 3 Hours approximately
It starts picking you up from your place, we drive you outside the city through popular neighborhoods of the biggest city of Bolivia
After about 30 minutes of starting the tour we start to leave behind the urban area of the city of Santa Cruz.
Once we are almost out the urban area of Santa Cruz city we pass by the Ex-damp of the city of Santa Cruz.
Part of the road towards the mennonite colony is paved up to a small typical town of Santa Cruz called "Paurito" .
From Paurito the road to the Mennonites Colony is unpaved
After approximately 1 hour in the vehicle we start to enter the Mennonite´s colony. This colony which is the closest to the City of Santa Cruz is inhabited by mennonites families that originally came from Canada and Mexico and other countries where also they have colonies.
The colony has about 13000 Has. distributed in 200 families. The colony has about 2000 inhabitants.
As we drive through on the self made roads of the colony, we can observe the large fields of crops and the specially designed houses.
Once we arrived to a house of a mennonite friend hoping to find him, because the is no way call him by phone to let him know we are coming, he will welcome us with some members of his family
In this house of this Mennonite family the of head family explains us about the organisation for production and maintenance of a Mennonites family and the way how the work is distributed among the whole family including the children.
The mennonite family is willing to let us know more inside their house. Like the Bedrooms, and kitchen
Also during this visit we can talk about some concerns or ask some question to the head of the family.
He sometime is not at home, and there is no way to get in touch with them to previously arrange a visit. Because the do not allow to use a phone. But most of the time we find him or someone other member of the family or we go to a different Mennonite house.
They may show us their barn and where the cows are being milked. And also where they feed the horses
Also we can visit their welding shop where they repair and manufacture or produce their kind chariots/ carts. (Pulled by horses.)
Also this welding workshop is used to change the rubber tyres for iron tyres, of the tractors.
Mennonites are well skillful people in many areas specially in making different things necessaries in a large family. Specially as they tend to live. Usually every family has one or more tractors.
Their living rules may change depending on the Mennonite colony
We also may have the chance to have a nice short ride in a very soft vehicle pulled by horses
Ther ride on this cart is comfortable
Leaving this friendly family. We drive to some others points to visit in this colony
In the colony we may visit the main store where you can see the tools necessary for the development of certain activities of this people, such as harnesses for horses, among others. This depends on the available time.
Other places to visit is the milk processing plant of the Mennonite community, where they get the cheese and butter from the milk
The main income of the Mennonites is the agriculture. But the also they do business in many others areas like cheese processing, raising chickens and others
If have some time left we can drive by the colony's church to take a look from the outside
The schools which are very special for each colony, woks only 5 months of the year. The girls study 7 years and the boys 6 years. They learn the basic skills of reading, math and some others. The rest they learn while they are helping in their family house
To live this experience for many is like visiting another country. Because the Mennonites have their own way of working, their own community organisations and they keep their own churches. Also the the school system in the colonies is exclusively for them.
For some people visiting the colonies is like travelling in time to the past because, the way the houses are, because they still use horses to move from one place to another.And because the way the Mennonites live and dress.
The time spent in th colony is about 2 hours.
After this very interesting trip, we return to the city of Santa Cruz. where we drop you off to your hotel.
End of our services. Thanks.
Please read our Terms and Conditions of our Services
Amboro Tours is the only original source of this itinerary.
Adverse weather conditions or social upheaval can change the original route.
Please note that this itinerary may vary or may not be entirely completed due to climatic factors.
(DO NOT BRINGS THINGS YOU MAY DO NOT NEED)
- A Cap or a Hat ( No to be used under the trees or branches)
- Sun Glasses
- A Warm Sweater
- Swimsuit ( You may not have time to use it in one day tours)
- Insect Repellents
- Long-sleeved shirt- Pants
- Passport (Original) Or identifications documents valid in Bolivia
- Personal items you may need