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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Billy's San Pedro La Laguna Adventure

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

When I first discovered Lake Atitlan in the early 70's San Pedro at night was just a few flickering lights across the lake. Today, it is still quiet, but growing. Tz'utujil Maya make up 90% of the inhabitants, with a small expat community.

 Back then there were no roads connecting the towns around the lake and the only way to travel to another village was the mail boat that circled the lake on Monday and Thursday. Today, lanchas travel by the hour. 

 

Map of Lake Atitlan with the many towns marked

Panajachel to San Pedro takes about 30 minutes via lancha to cross Lake Atitlan. This is rainy season in Central America and I wanted to take advantage of what the locals call the canicula, a period of dry clear weather, in between the rains.

 

Lake sunset the night before

I am heading across Lake Atitlan in the morning to the town of San Pedro. Here you can see the three volcanoes that create this beautiful setting. Volcanoes Atitlan and Toliman with San Pedro on the right being my destination. Sipping on a Gallo beer in one of my favorite lakeside restaurants, Bob Marley playing in the background I am absorbed in the ambience here in Panajachel, Guatemala.

 

 

My lancha is tied to the post at the dock

Once boarded I sit back and watch the movie. Lago Atitlan is playing.

The lanches are on a semi-loose schedule and usually wait until they have enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile.

 

San Pedro straight ahead

Here we go! That is Volcano San Pedro in the center.

 

The town of San Pedro

The town of San Pedro sits to the right of the volcano and is my destination this morning.

I took the 11:00 AM lancha from Pana and arrived in San Pedro at 11:30. The fare was 25Quetzales, about $3USD.

 

Walking along the callejons in San Pedro

San Pedro is a hot spot for Spanish Language schools, massage, hot tubs and just chillin'.

 

View from my window

For my first night I rented a room with this view. It's very relaxing with a slow pace here.

Villia del Lago Hotel for 75Q per person (about $9.50USD), phone 4474 9281 or 5716 8730. Ask for Gladys.

One reason I wanted to make this trip was that I had heard about a wine and cheese restaurant that was located in San Juan, a small town just outside of San Pedro, so my plan was to have lunch there.

I made reservations for 1:00PM at Artesano's, a fourteen seat restaurant, so I stashed my gear in my room and grabbed a tuk tuk to take me to San Juan de la Laguna. The driver charged me 20Q for a 10Q ride but since neither of us knew where we were going I figured this was a learning expense.

 

Nuts, fruit, olives, a selection of cheeses and a variety of cured cut meats

My lunch at the Artesano Wine and Cheese restaurant had 27 different cheeses and numerous cuts of meat. After the chef presented the platters he went on to describe each cheese and flavor of meat. He suggested that I sample in a clockwise manner starting with the brie and the soft cheeses and finishing with the Roquefort.

After all, I am in Guatemala and this is a developing nation where all we eat are rice and beans. This was impressive!

I added a half liter of an Argentine Cabernet and steadied myself for a culinary adventure, all the while chatting with an Australian couple who live in Hong Kong.

I enjoy the international vibe and interesting people all around the lake and the cost of a delightful afternoon was 150Q (about $19USD).

12-4 PM, M-F  Chef/owner Dietrich Gawtenbein 4555-4773 or 3028-4351

Later that evening I was sitting by the dock of the bay watching the sun set with a friend with whom we have traveled previously to Playa El Tunco, El Salvador. Swapping stories while watching the sun drop over the mountains, we realized that we are living the dream.

There is something magical about Lake Atitlan.

 

Sunrise, Lake Atitlan

The next morning was this sunrise out my front door. The peaceful calm was a welcoming way to start my day. Because of the previous rains, the sides of the mountains are vividly green.

The Adventurer's Guide to Guatemala

What's not to like about San Pedro?

 

Local Maya woman doing laundry

Just below me was this Maya lady washing laundry around 6:00 AM. The work never ends for these ladies and they use this opportunity to not only wash their clothes, but also to bathe themselves.

 

Fresh handmade tortillas

And another Maya lady was making handmade tortillas for sale in San Pedro. As her daughter watched her craft, I am certain the mother has been making these from the time she was a small child. Primitive wood burning stoves are the norm but these people have been around a lot longer than I have. The corn tortillas are a staple in Guatemala and can be found everywhere.

 

Indian's Nose

Indian's Nose, across the bay from San Pedro, is a popular early morning hike to watch the sunrise. Any tour company can set you up with a guide, which is recommended, to assist you on the trail.

 

Restaurant at the dock

This is a funky restaurant with nice jazz near the dock. San Pedro is dotted with small intriguing places that serve as gathering spots.

 

Morning at San Pedro dock

Early morning at the dock leaving for Panajachel, I was contemplating whether or not I should return to Pana or stay another night. Looking around at the scenery, I decided to stay.

All of our books lead to adventure. Don't miss out on yours!

However, due to a reservation for the room I rented on the lake, I needed to move across the street to Hotel Antonio at 80Q per person per night (about $10USD). There was a lake view from the balcony and it was a nicer room, but the Wifi was spotty.

A friend in Pana recommended that while in San Pedro I eat at the Italian restaurant, Pequenos Pacados. It's on the main drag in San Pedro next to the health food store. I took his advice and went there for lunch.

 

Not disappointed, the 70Q (about $8.75USD) Saltimbocca was very well prepared and tasty. With a couple of glasses of red wine, my meal was complete and the tab was 110Q (about $14USD).

Cafe Pequenos Pecados

Ricardo & Antonella   Email elpuntoantigua@gmail.com  Tele: 3031 - 4713

 

The following morning, I was up early and preparing myself for my return trip to Panajachel. I decided I wanted to eat breakfast before traveling on the lake. You never know what surprises can develop on the lake at any time of the year and I wanted a full stomach.

 

Lole's Place

Lole's Place was open and it was just 7:00AM. Perfect!

Located on the main drag up the hill and to the left of the dock, it is easily found.

 

Full breakfast, local style

Tipica Breakfast at Lolo's Place Restaurant was scrambled eggs, black beans, fried plantains, cheese, crema and toast. My cost was  20Q plus 5Q coffee or about $3USD.

Tele: 4950-3109 or  4720-2566

 

Spectacular view from the dock

Breakfast finished, I waited for my 8:00 AM lancha. A nice place to wait!

 

Pablo, a young waiter at Smokin' Joes BBQ

At the dock I ran into Nestor from Smokin Joe's Bar-b-que and his helper and boarded their boat.

They loaded many coolers and supplies into the lancha for the Saturday feed in Pana.

This young man, Pablo, works with Nester on Saturdays in Panajachel and Sunday in San Pedro. He has a good mind, thinks clearly and gives good service. At some point in the future I am confident he is going to be running the show.

 

Captain of my morning lancha

The lake was like glass this morning and the Captain did a great job on the crossing. Everything was "A-OK."

Back in Panajachel ready for my next adventure!

For more stories and photos of Guatemala, click here

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About the Authors
 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Billy and Akaisha continue to journal and photograph their world travels.

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