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.
Christmas Day Pig Roast
Panajachel, Lago Atitlan,
LAH-goh Ah-teet-LAHN, Gwah-tay-MAH-lah)
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Boats line up at the Santiago
dock in Panajachel
We sailed away from the safe harbor of Panajachel, Guatemala to get
to the other side of the lake on this Christmas morning. Locals pay
15 Quetzales for the ride, but touts wanted 30Q's for tourists. We
refused to pay more than 25Q and that amount was quickly accepted.
Pana, as it's known, is in the distance
behind us as we make our way
across Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is known to be
the most beautiful lake in the world. Whether or not that is true, it certainly
is a lake of great beauty. Twelve miles long and 7.5 miles wide, locals crisscross
the lake several times a day from various villages. We are headed to Santiago,
the largest of the lakeside communities for our Christmas Day Pig Roast.
Years past when Billy was
first here in the 1970's, there was only the mail boat that cruised the lake
with any regularity. Twice a week this boat delivered mail to the towns dotted
along the lake. You simply caught a ride on the mail boat, and if you got off at
any location, you had to spend the nights there awaiting the next boat's
arrival. Today there are many boats coming and going to all the towns several
times a day.
A quiet morning this
Christmas Day and the launcha is only half filled
Christmas Eve is a big event in Guatemala and this year did
not disappoint. Large fireworks set off in the streets at midnight kept
everyone up into the early morning hours. From our hotel floor-to-ceiling
windows we watched the fireworks explode and rise to the sky from below. It was a tad close!
Our destination of
Santiago, is tucked into the strait dead ahead
Almost 2 million years ago
there was a huge volcanic eruption which formed the caldera now filled by the
lake. This enormous eruption dispersed ash over 3.7 million miles and has been
detected from Florida
Lake Atitlan is one of the
most beautiful places on the planet
The depth of the lake is
disputed, but is considered to be more than 1,000 feet deep.
These fishermen head out in the
wooden boats to set their nets
On February 4, 1976, an
earthquake of 7.5 magnitude struck Guatemala and killed more than 26,000 people.
This earthquake fractured the lake bed causing subsurface drainage from this
body of water, and the water level dropped two meters within one month! Now,
that fracture has been closed due to other earthquakes which have taken place
since then and the lake is rising
The pig is in the pit!
We arrived to our host's
home and after some fresh tropical fruit and coffee, it was time to take the pig
out of the pit. Last evening, Christopher and Kevin placed it into the earthen
glowing hot coals. It's been cooking all night.
Kevin and Billy are
ho-ho-ho-ing the dirt out of the pit this Christmas Day
Now it was time to remove
the pig and see if the overnight cooking did its job.
Christopher gets in on the
It was a tremendous amount
of work the night before with killing the pig, allowing it to hang for hours,
stuffing the inside with fruit and onions, then wrapping it up in banana leaves,
wet burlap bags and chicken wire. The head-sized volcanic rocks inside the pit
had to be heated to bright red before the pig was lowered into it.
What would we find this
The guys found the pig inside the dirt and hoisted it out
A little he-man power and the pig in all his
wrappings is lifted from the hot oven and placed on stone slabs.
Checking with a knife to
it is done
The general consensus was
that the pig was not hot enough. Was it cooked all the way through? The boys
shove a knife blade into the center of the pig to test the internal temperature.
We need more evidence and open its
After all this work and time, no one wants to
believe it is not cooked through and through even though everyone thinks the
temperature should be hotter at this point in the cooking cycle. So Mr. Piggie
needs to be unwrapped to have a closer look.
Adventurer's Guide to Guatemala
Donít go to
Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click
Christopher peeling back the layers of banana
First the chain ties were cut, then the
chicken wire peeled back. The burlap bags were next and then the banana leaves.
What would the pig look like?
We expected steam to be escaping at this
Houston, we have a problem
Mr. Piggie is not completely cooked and must
be returned to the flame. What are we going to do now? About 30 people are
expected for Christmas dinner and the main course isn't finished just yet!
Meanwhile we are taking in the natural beauty this area offers
It's hard to feel too troubled when living in
paradise. The weather was a mild 78 degrees with clear skies and a gorgeous
ancient lake in front of us just beyond the lush gardens.
Oh gee. What shall we do about the pig?!
More he-man power
It is decided that the pig will be finished
off on a grill and Christopher just happens to be living next to a famous
restaurant and is friends with the owner. How convenient is that? So the guys take the animal, table and
all, down the hill and right next door to place him on the grill.
The pig is very heavy and it takes four guys to move him.
Christopher's neighbor has a large grill that
is perfect to finish off porky
Some heave-ho-ing and the pig and table are
brought into the downstairs garden cooking area of the restaurant. An amazing 5 foot long grill
complete with firewood and a lid is all prepared with a fire roaring below.
Shouldn't be too long now. Amazingly, we are still pretty much on schedule - so
The fire is lit and the pig
put to rest yet again
The pig is laid on a grill
with drainage pans underneath that are filled with water to create steam and
prevent a grease fire. He's a perfect fit,
the lid is closed and now we just wait for the guests to arrive.
Now he is getting some color and looking good
The pig is moving along and
getting the proper heat now, and we check the water pans to be sure they have
Others are enjoying their Christmas Day too
Here we see a family using their boat to
attend a Christmas function farther down the lake. It's a beautifully tranquil day.
The guests are starting to arrive and Christopher decides how he wants to
present this beast
The pig is looking good now and and our host
decides he is ready enough to eat.
Zaira, Christopher's wife appears and is
giving her approval as all the boys look on
A bit of a taste test while the men gather
around to see what the next step might be. Everyone is loving being a part of
this big project!
Mamacita takes charge
With a knife, Zaira starts carving porky.
Pieces are placed into a cooking pot with a lid and are portioned out to the
Akaisha and May stop to take in the action
It's been a great day with the women bringing
down the plates and utensils, making guacamole and washing dishes. The guys have
set up the tables and chairs, filled the tubs with ice for the refreshments and carried porky back and forth several times.
Everyone has worked up an appetite and the surroundings are idyllic.
Billy's ready to eat
Everyone is hungry, Zaira is doing a great
job of carving and Christopher is passing out plates. Billy is ready!
Guests and workers alike sit down at the
table ready for dinner
The guys didn't waste any time. Pork slabs, black beans,
guacamole, tortillas, chips, cake. It just couldn't be better! Fresh poinsettias
and tropical flowers dress the table.
The view of Vulcan San Pedro from our dining room table
Porky has sacrificed his life and we are all
grateful. There was solid teamwork and the day was gorgeous. Mixed conversations
in Tz'utujil, Spanish, and English are flowing between everyone and there are plenty of smiles and heartfelt warmth to go
Our hosts were the best. Such
open-heartedness and generosity! The day passed all too quickly and because we
stayed well beyond the last water taxi, a private launch was called to pick us up at
the neighbors dock.
Motoring through sea grass in the black lake
We bounced along the dark waters for almost
an hour as the sun set and the new moon rose. Stars were brilliant above us in
the sky and it was the perfect ending to an exciting and fulfilling day.
One not to be forgotten.
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person Ė the person who prizes their
independence, values their
time, and who doesnít want to mindlessly
follow the crowd.