During my senior year of high school I got to really dig in to my interest of the Amish and complete what we called a "senior exit project" on the group. The project consisted of a paper, physical item creation and a presentation. I read everything I could find on the Amish in order to write that paper, I was so interested in the why's and how's of everything about them. Then I studied their hand sewing method and created a quilt as my project. Everything came together perfectly and I actually enjoyed the project. However, it only fueled my interest.
Ever since that senior project I have wanted to visit the Amish. I would love to go in to a family, see how they live, learn from them, etc. However, I know that this is very unlikely, so I've always wanted to visit an area where they live and just observe.
Well, thanks to a business trip Alan had in Indiana, I got to visit Shipshewana, IN, the heart of northern Indiana Amish Country.
My Amish experience began before we even got to Shipshewana and in the most unlikely way. While making arrangements for the day and completing a few phone calls for work we stopped in a Walmart parking lot or a few minutes. All of a sudden I saw what I thought was a carriage, but it was far away and my view was obstructed by cars. A few minutes later I yelled "Amish people"! That's right, I saw my first live Amish people at Walmart! I guess you really can find anything there! I sat in awe as they crossed the parking lot and parked their horse and carriage in the special barn at the edge of the parking lot.
Then like something out of a movie three women got out and made the long walk across the parking lot to the store. They were dressed in the perfect Amish outfits, from bonnets to black shoes. I could hardly speak, it was almost surreal that they were right in front of me.
From there we drove to Shipshewana and landed right in Amish country.We were surrounded by horses and buggies, which made driving a car a bit tricky.
We also drove past tons of Amish homes. They were all the typical two story white wooden homes. Surrounded by farm land with either crops or animals, lines full of drying clothes and driveways and barns featuring horses and buggies. A few of the homes had the women out mowing grass or watching small children. No men seemed to be at home during the day. We saw a few young men riding bicycles or buggies to town.
The town was small and had a few shops including a hardware store, clothing/sewing supply store, an auction house and a flea market type area. There were also a couple of restaurants and bakeries. Of course we had to stop at a bakery. With homemade cinnamon buns that were bigger than my hand, I had to override my gluten allergy and try one. They were delicious!
It was almost surreal for me to get to see and be around Amish people, it's something I have always wanted to experience. It's like stepping back in time, or in to movie. Seeing people live in a way that completely bucks modern society and live by their own rules is something I had to see to believe. There are many thoughts and theories on the Amish and whether or not the religion is really a "good" thing and whether the people are happy. Of course I couldn't tell much from my short visit, but I do know that the ones I met in shops seemed just as happy and friendly as anyone else.
With my cinnamon bun and my Amish made potholder, I bought as a souvenir, we left Shipshewana and headed to Chicago. My Amish experience is something I will never forget.