Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Among the Chihuahuan Mennonites

We are at a campground in Cuauhtemoc (map), owned and operated by Peter Lowen, third generation Chihuahuan Mennonite.  This afternoon, we had a brief introduction to the Mennonites of Chihuahua by way of a half hour film and a musuem dedicated to their history and changing culture.  Tonight, we will enjoy a traditional Mennonite dinner.

When the Mennonites immigrated here from Canada in 1922, they negotiated certain concessions from the Mexican government, exempting them from military service, the taking of oaths, and participation in the public school system.  Consequently, they run their own schools, and Low German is generally spoken at home and in the schools, although instruction in High German, Spanish, and English is now included in the more liberal parts of the community.

After dinner tonight we will be briefed on procedures for loading the train -- tomorrow is the big day, loading onto the flatcars after a short drive to La Junta.

In preparation for the train ride, which will take us into freezing night-time temperatures, we taped up the exterior cracks in the upper windshield, to try to keep excess moisture from getting in there, freezing, and spreading them any further.  I also replaced one broken leveler toggle switch, and changed the hydronic system from summer loop to winter loop.

We are very excited about the train ride and the reportedly spectacular Copper Canyon.

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