Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
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.
Where the Shoe Shine Boys
Shoe Shine Boys of Pana
as well in
Antigua, the old capital city of
Guatemala, shoe shine boys come out of the surrounding towns to shine
your shoes and make some money for their school supplies. It’s a noble act for these
kids and their dedication to this task keeps them out of trouble.
We see the same young boys,
some as young as 7 years old,
pass through Panajachel week after week. We buy them cokes (their favorite
treat) or food in
exchange for speaking with us about their lives and telling us their stories.
It seems that most of
the boys come in from a town called Panimache.
But where is that?
None of us can
locate it on our Smart Phones or on computer maps.
the many Shoe Shine Boys working in Panajachel, Guatemala - notice his
shine box and his fingers blackened from shoe polish
town is located “mas aribba”
meaning that it’s up the hill as they point in the general direction. “A 10
Quetzals bus fare ($1.32USD), about one hour away."
working in Panajachel
These kids are 7-11 years old and
they travel on their own in order to work here to make some money for themselves. With a shoe shine costing 3Q’s
they have to have seven jobs just to break even on their round trip fare.
Hands are moving quick as a flash to get
that shine up!
of our website tee shirts away to shoe shine boys, who are always
appreciative for the new clothes. This young boy is proudly wearing his today.
up out of the Lake Atitlan area.
As I told them that I cannot
find their town on the map, they offered to take me there, provided I pay for their
passage. So I hired a private van to haul the gang up for a visit.
Not knowing much about
the town, this should be an adventure into the mountainous backlands of Guatemala.
elevation with the lake and
San Pedro Volcano in the distance
I agreed with the shoe
shine boys to meet me at
Cafe Kitsch at 10:00 AM and we would leave from there.
Driver and van were both ready… but the kids were a no show! They never made it.
to go ahead
myself with my driver.
off at about 8000 feet, this is farming country
Winding our way up out
Lake Atitlan area, the road was paved and since it is the rainy season the
mountains were a lush green. As we climbed in elevation we passed large farms or
fincas as they are known here, and finally arrived in Panimache about 50 minutes
private driver, Juan Gomez, and comfy van... Notice he is on the phone
sure what to expect, but I was up for it!
Continuing further up this road will lead
you to the Pan American Highway.
Market Day so cars parked along this patched road, the only paved one in the
native Maya woman wears a typical woven cloth on her head. She will use that
cloth for everything - as a basket for goods she purchases, as a sun cloth to
keep the heat off her head, as a base for balancing the wood she carries on her head, or to wrap
up a child and carry her on her back.
already be carrying a child on her back presently as you can see the knot of
cloth across her chest.
Day in Panimache is sparse, compared to the
Panajachel. But similar things are sold: Fresh chamomile, vegetables, chilis,
clothes donated from "up North" are for sale here
purchase bags of used clothing from the U.S. and Canada and resell them here in
Guatemala. For those who want the western world look instead of the native Maya
garb, this is an affordable alternative.
pasta, Corn Flakes and more are sold here
has his own table and besides the above listed items, he sells fresh eggs,
cooking oil, catsup, soap and packaged cookies.
Guatemalans like strong colors
women are known for their spectacular weavings and embroideries. Rarely is there
a market that doesn't offer skeins of brightly colored threads and yarn for this
A typical home in Panimache
the Shoe Shine Boys named Juan spotted me upon arriving in town and offered to be my guide.
I said "Sure!" and on into town we went.
This is a
typical Panimache home with a corrugated tin roof and the beginning of a
milpa growing in the front yard. A milpa is a crop-growing system
used throughout MesoAmerica, producing the triple crop of corn, beans and squash.
path we spotted this young brother and sister
the singular paved road, you will only find dirt paths like this one. I really
don't know if this town has a sewer system or running water.
the young Maya girl wearing traditional dress.
Cotton candy treat!
Juan told me that another shoe shine boy lives here at this house.
assured me that her son went to Panajachel to work that morning... hmmmm perhaps these guys took
the day off to play soccer, because they did not come to Pana, I can tell you!
gathered around and I bought
them all cotton candy from this vendor.
Another dirt road
A Maya woman wears the typical woven cloth on top of
her head, an embroidered blouse called a huipile, and a woven and
embroidered wrap-around skirt. Boys and men tend to wear western clothing.
Corn, the beginning of another milpa,
is growing on both sides of the road.
is in a beautiful mountain setting and everyone was friendly and open to me.
tienda in this simple town
again you see the women and girls wearing the traditional Maya dress - colorful
embroideries and woven cloth. The young man on the right is in western jeans and
a tee shirt.
An anciana, an older Maya woman
woman, who happens to be Juan's Grandmother, met my eyes as I walked through town. I am sure
she has stories to tell if I could even speak with her. Most likely she only
speaks Kaqchikel, or one of the other native Maya tongues. Spanish is the Maya's
the complicated embroidered huipile she wears. Typically, these take over
a month to produce and due to the amount of thread used, they are quite heavy
and a little stiff.
the right, took me to his friend's tienda where I bought them water.
young kids. What do their lives hold in store for them?
All in a tuk tuk
It's time to
head back to my ride, but first we jump into a tuk tuk, the affordable transport
all throughout Guatemala.
Looking out the side of the tuk tuk
pleasant morning running about Panimache, enjoying the vistas and the local people.
the cobblestone street. Riding in a tuk tuk along a cobblestone road can really
rattle your teeth!
The local church
are Churches everywhere in Guatemala, so I had to peak inside.
As is the
tradition in many churches, the inside decorations of beautiful cloth change
depending on the season and holy day that is being celebrated. This church was
to have seating for the whole town.
Here I am
in the comfy van taking
the road back to Panajachel, a small town of about 15,000 people. Seems like a
big city compared to Panimache!
For more stories about Guatemala, click
To learn more about Guatemala as a retirement
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha