|A covered wooden bridge|
When I heard about this religious sect who froze time in the 1800’s and lived in the technology dense country of America without technology, I was intrigued. For an Indian (from India, not to be confused with Native Americans) living without technology, going about in a horse cart, studying only till eight grade and having farming as the main occupation is not big news. Abstinence and sacrifice are not unique themes. Most Indians are indoctrinated in them and can go on a fast for reasons like ‘ its Monday’ (shrug).
|A row of corn|
In India no one chose to reject technology, its more a case of not having access to technology in rural settings. Bullock carts and camel carts will trudge on the highway alongside BMWs. Witnessing the same thing in USA is rare.That’s why you go to Lancester County, Pennsylvania which is popularly known as Amish Country and is also known for its outlet malls. There are many options to stay in Amish Country hotels, bed and breakfasts, farms and if you book early there are a few Amish farms which are open to guests. Link to PA Dutch country website.
|An Amish farm with farmhouse|
Farms are the most endearing part of Amish Country. They cover the landscapes on both sides of the road. You will notice big farmhouses with huge water tanks at one end and that’s how you know, you have entered Amish Country. The Amish are a traditional Christian Church fellowship which has its history traced back to Switzerland. Most Amish followers speak ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ or Pennsylvania German and make the most amazing apple butter. The Amish believe in living a rural, modest and religious life. Their dressing is simple and modest and they do not use any modern style of fashion post the 18th century, even buttons. Their use of cars, heating and other technology is limited or absent. Their chief mode of transportation is the horse buggy. An individual becomes Amish by baptism at the age of 16 or 18 when young adults can chose to remain within the Amish sect. Usually after a period known as Rumspringa (means running around) where they are free to go and experience the outside world. But if the choose to return and be baptized they must follow the rules and also marry within the sect.
|Inside an Amish house|
After the initial gawking at seeing the Amish riding around in the horse buggy you realize they are just people who are warm and might give you a wave or a smile as they ride by. They also make amazing food with the freshest of ingredients which is in the true sense straight from the farm. One of the most popular establishments frequented by tourists is Good n Plenty where they follow the smorgasbord buffet system. In the smorgasbord system hot and tasty dishes are served on the common table and need to be passed around the entire table. The food is wholesome and the feeling of community is indeed a warm feeling which is sorely missed in the cities.
|A small town called Intercourse|
Fresh air, good food, beautiful countrysides and the most quaint BnB’s are what I liked most about Amish Country. We missed the outlet malls by a wide berth, enough shopping in the cities to dissuade us from shopping in the countryside. But you could always indulge in some handmade quilts and other curios which are pretty much not made in China. I would definitely recommend Amish Country to people who are interested in unwinding with some fresh air and some apple butter and hot bread.