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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.

Maya Day Market

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

We have been living in the tropics now for decades. One of the things we like the most is the abundance we see at the food markets. Some markets are better than others with fresher fruits and more variety, and it's our opinion that Guatemala has some of the very best.

The Maya Day Market is walking distance from the center of Panajachel town, and we go there several times a week.

Fruits in season

What is being sold depends on availability. Here you see apples, pears, papayas, pineapples, melons, grapes, oranges and mangos.

These fruits are sold individually, by the pound or cut up in portions by the bag.

Fruit such as apples, pears, peaches and plums are gown in the mountainous highlands of Guatemala.

The egg truck

Eggs are sold by the flat, individually or by the carton in a grocery store. I can get a half-dozen eggs in a carton for 7.40 Quetzales or about $0.15USD per egg. At a small store in a callejon near my hotel, I can purchase one egg or three eggs or however many I want.

 

If you purchase a flat of eggs here, they will be tied together with string and a handle will be made for ease of travel.

Salted and dried fish

Especially on weekends, you will see merchant stands of dried and salted fish. We have seen filleted fish on plastic sheets drying out in the sun. The odor of dried fish is very pungent.

Green beans, beets and carrots

These vegetables are so colorful and alive! There are juice bars in Pana and these carrots and beets will find themselves in healthy drinks for sale around town.

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Unlike Mexican food, Guatemalan meals often include large sides of vegetables. 

Camera shy

It doesn't always happen in town because the locals are used to the tourists, but the Maya who are from the mountains are often camera shy and don't prefer their photos being taken. Here, these women have turned their heads and one has put up her hand to cover her face from the camera.

More fruit vendors

Here you see basket after basket of papayas, bananas, melons and oranges. So. Sweet.

Many times mangos, oranges and papayas are served with a sprinkling of chili. Or if you prefer, a vendor will drizzle fresh honey on them, or squish a lime for you.

Individual vendor

This woman has her items spread out on a tarp on the ground. She has dried shrimp, greens, banana leaves tied up, flowers and other miscellanea for sale. The banana leaves are the original "to go" containers and food will be wrapped up in these leaves and tied together in a bundle. The same process is done in Asia.

If food is wrapped in a banana leaf, you will often see the leaves tossed on the ground after the food is eaten. This is very common place, especially in mountain towns.

Selling wood by the pile

For the most part, the Maya still cook over wood fires. Selling cut wood is a good business, but a difficult one, considering all the man hours that go into preparing it. This woman's piles of wood sell for between 20 and 35 Quetzales each, which is between $2.50 and $4.50 a pile.

The wood will then be bundled up in a woven cloth and either carried on top of a woman's head, or on someone's back. Sometimes a head strap is used to help disperse the weight more evenly. This is also a very common sight.

Dried shrimp

Lake Atitlan is just over 100 miles to the sea and one can enjoy seafood in restaurants and markets here. This dried shrimp is most likely from Monterrico, about three hours away.

Candied figs and squash

Sunday markets spill out into the streets surrounding the regular Maya Day Market and vendors from all over the neighboring areas offer specialties such as these candied figs and squash.

Bring your child to work day

Every day is "bring your child to work day." It is a normal sight to have children playing right along side their mothers as they go about their daily work tasks. This child is in a plastic crate and that is her playpen. The mother doesn't have to worry about arranging or paying for child care and the child - who was probably carried on her mother's back to this location - rarely is out of her mother's sight.

 

One of the things we have noticed, is that it is a rare occasion for a Maya child to be crying. They are attached to the mother's back in a woven sling for their first years of life and are brought to work with their mothers daily. At some point, the children themselves begin to sell the product also, and they learn the bargaining process and how to make change at an early age.

More dried fish

These dried fish are not from the lake and are most likely from the sea, 100 miles away.

Notice the baskets made of banana leaves placed inside a larger basket.

Using a simple scale to weigh product

Here you see a Maya woman utilizing a simple scale to weigh product that she is selling. This is common place.

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As a culture, the Maya love pattern. You will notice that these Maya women have printed blouses, printed hand woven skirts, and the vendor is wearing another patterned apron.

Vendor of dried goods

This vendor is selling beans, corn of various sorts, and rice. Since this photo was taken on a weekend market day, he is probably from a town many miles away, coming to the famous Panajachel market to sell his items.

He uses a more sophisticated scale that you can see in the lower left hand side of the photo. He measures the dry good into another bowl and uses a small hand shovel to add or subtract weight from the purchase.

Fruit spilling out into the street

This particular photo was also taken on a weekend, and this vendor has brought native fruit to sell. Customers are interested and are checking out what they want to purchase.

The weekend market has taken over the outside area of the regular Maya Day Market and vendors have set up shop in the street.

Fresh strawberries

These strawberries are sold in two sizes: small and large. The small sell for 4Quetzales a pound (about $0.50UDS) and the large for 5Quetzales per pound (about $0.63USD). They are sweet, brilliant red, and fresh!

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These strawberries will also find their way into the fruit drinks served in restaurants throughout the town and in fruit plates offered at breakfast time.

Abundant selection

Here you see eggplant, tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers, squash or pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower, hot chili peppers, apples and rambutan.

The selection is wide, prices are great and flavor is delicious!

Rambutan

The rambutan fruit is native to the Malaysia/Indonesian part of Asia but has migrated to Central America. Inside is a sweetish white fruit that surrounds an almond cluster type of seed.

You want to purchase the fruit when the outside is brilliant red. Take a knife and cut a circumference around the fruit and pull apart. Squeeze the white fruit into your mouth and spit out the almond type seeds.

Rambutan is similar to a lychee. Verrry tropical and exotic!

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 and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular 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.

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