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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.

Concepcion Chiquirichapa

Solola, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Spending weeks and months at a time in the Lake Atitlan area, sometimes it's fun to break up the routine and go for a day outing to an outlying mountain town. About a thirty minute drive from Panajachel, five of us hired a private driver to take us to Concepcion. The municipality has nearly 23,000 inhabitants, 98% of whom identify as indigenous Maya-Mam.

Our dependable driver, Moises

Moises has been one of our private drivers for years now. He's dependable, focused and knows his way around the Guatemalan Highlands and the capitol city of Guatemala City. Not only that, but he has a new and comfortable van, easy to ride around in.

He has taken us to medical facilities in Guate City when we have needed to go, waits for us and then brings us back. Today was going to be far more picturesque and relaxing.

The Motley Crew

Billy is in the front seat next to Moises taking a photo of this Motley Crew. Ian is the Aussie in the front on the right. I'm behind Ian, Chris from New Orleans is behind me in the hat, and John, another local from Pana, is next to him on the back seat.

Looks like the motorcyclist is almost in our van!

It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny.

Cost for the van for the day trip? Thirty Quetzales each or about $4USD per person.

Overlooking Concepcion

According to ancient Maya-Mam legend, a huge lake used to exist in this depression along the high canyon walls. Because children were going down to the lake and disappearing, the leader of the village, the Principal, used his power and formed long sticks or tubes. Using a piece of cotton on the end of the tubes, he begged the gods to make the lake water disappear down the tube. 

As soon as he finished his prayer, the cotton ball was completely soaked with the water and then the Principal placed the tubes facing East, forcing the water to go into the place that today is known as Lake Atitlan.

After the lake disappeared, no longer were there missing children in the village.

Coming into Concepcion

Here we are driving into the town of Concepcion. On our previous visit here we were able to participate in the weekly market day, which was fun and colorful.

What would we find today?

The Catholic Church in the center of town

 

Today there are several new and different styles of Christian Churches in Concepcion. This particular church is 500 years old, was probably the first Christian church in the area and is well maintained. It is located up the hill where our driver, Moises, parked our van.

Ancient wooden interior of the church

Throughout our travels, we have seen many ancient churches built centuries ago by the Spanish. They are all similar in style, with the carved wooden ceilings and gold leafed altars and side panels.

It is truly amazing that this wood has stood the test of time. You cannot see the carving on the ceilings in this photo, but they are an intricate pattern that is repeated over and over.

Traditional side altar

Here you see a gold leafed side altar with a multitude of crucifixes on the wall on both sides. It looks from the photo that the fair-skinned Christs are on the left and the brown-skinned Christs are on the right.

I don't know the significance of this, if any, but I imagine that the local Maya wanted a Christ that looked like them.

Elsewhere in the church there were Christs, saints and statures of Mary all dressed in traditional Maya clothing.

The main altar

The original altar is recessed into the white washed background of the altar wall. The communion railing and the tile you see here are new. The tile of the main church is quite old and you can just feel the historical presence of the Spanish.

You cannot see in this photo, but a Maya woman was on her knees behind the altar praying in front of the statues in the golden niches. She had a child with her who was about two or three years old.

View from the front of the Church outwards

The steep wall of the mountains surround Concepcion and this is a familiar panorama throughout the whole town.

You can see our van parked here in the center of the photo.

Concepcion is a clean, friendly and quiet community.

Items for sale spread out on the street

We at first thought this was someone's laundry being dried by the sun. But most Mayans we know place their clean clothing on a line or on something natural like a bush, the lawn or over rocks. Having items displayed on a sidewalk was out of character and different from our experience.

Still, it's possible that these items are not being offered for sale, since there was no vendor in sight.

Notice that there is no trash in the streets anywhere.

Hardened mud bricks piled high

 

Walking around town we noticed these hand made mud bricks piled in a corner against some tree trunks. These mud bricks are used to build homes, shelters, storage units and stores then whitewashed to seal them.

Beautiful Government building

Thinking this was an upscale hotel, we were curious to enter. It has to be the most modern and beautiful building in the area of town where we were doing our discovery walking.

Inside we asked some workers what the purpose of this building was, and we were told that it was the city's government building. The inside was well maintained and spacious. However, most of the offices were empty.

In front of the local Catholic Church

It's a gorgeous day and here we are in front of the oldest church in town.

On the road back

Here you see our way back towards Lake Atitlan, in the middle right of the photo. You can see the lake itself and the volcanoes surrounding it. Since we are only about half an hour away from where we live, this gives you an idea of the location of where we are in the mountains.

A broader view

Once again, the Lake is in the center right of the photo, and here is the panoramic view from the road driving back.

We had left Panajachel about 9:30 in the morning, drove to Concepcion, did our walking tour and drove back. We returned in time to have a cappuccino and some lunch at one of our favorite hang outs, Cafe Kitsch.

What fun! And a great break from the ordinary.

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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.


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