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  • Writer's pictureseimaistato

We almost got stranded in an Amish community

Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA - August 2023

Did you know that the largest Amish community in the United States (with about 43,000 people) is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania?

In those days I was staying in Philadelphia, a city particularly rich in history for its key role in the birth of the United States with the Declaration of Independence from the British Kingdom in 1787, the U.S. Constitution, and William Penn's attempt at religious freedom. For this very reason, I had read about an Amish community in a small town an hour and a half from the city and suggested to my parents that we drop in. Quite a surprise to go pick up the rental car and get the keys to an electric car because "we ran out of the others." I immediately got the basic information: miles of range and charging schedule. They explained to me what to look for in the charging stations and, of course, I was supposed to return the car charged. Having plenty of time on the outward journey and not receiving the car with a "full tank," I attempted a recharge at no less than 3 marked points, in vain. We got off to a good start...I will try again on the return trip, although we will have to do everything in a hurry so as not to miss the train to Washington DC....

We arrived at our destination and stopped at a family farm. Although the Amish and the rest of the population live in the same place, the former are easily recognized by their clothing and the fact that they walk or ride horses and donkeys. Between chats, they told us how their lifestyle is totally family-centered: each has an average of 6-10 children, so the population practically doubles every 20 years.

We found a small bus (obviously not Amish) that took us on a tour of the farms and houses: they explained that the houses have no electricity but only gas and are easily recognizable because the windows have a green covering. I did not know that there were no Amish churches because all church services are held at home: the reason is purely historical because of the religious persecutions in England from which everyone (Quakers, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Catholics) fled, and the custom has simply remained.

It was strange to be catapulted into a world that seemed much more than an hour and a half away from the "rest of the world", because in the end that's what it's all about: the idea is that the community itself stands on the needs of the families that make it up, with no help from outside. They have no health insurance, they give birth at home, they have no phones except on the farms to sell their products. They live mainly on farming, animal husbandry, milk production, sewing and carpentry. One gentleman explained to me that when a person turns 16 he can "try the world," whatever that means, and about 80 percent of the boys and girls decide to stay in the community. What a story.

After enjoying a very good berry pie, we decided to get back in the car: we had three crashes on the way, made up 15 minutes that we lost again in the station parking lot, returned the car with 20 km on it, threw my parents out of the car instructing them on who does what, run with all the backpacks and suitcases, and got on the train to Washington only because it was late. Sweaty, we almost got stranded into an Amish community.

On the train

An Amish family out for a walk


Cheese factory

Curious faces

Pit-stop at the cake stall

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