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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.

A Traveler's Tribute

Akaisha Kaderli

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Call me peculiar, but in our worldwide travels, I have a fascination with the faces of older women. I am simply riveted.

Over the years that we have collected photos of ancianas, or women who have survived decades, I have often wondered about their individual stories.

 

In Otavalo, Ecuador, we stood next to this woman while waiting for a parade of children to pass. Her wealth is displayed by the rows of hand-blown gold glass beads that she wears around her neck. It's obvious that she takes care of herself, and that she is quite clean. Wearing no spectacles, her eyes pierce through the distance looking for her grandchild. Centuries of proud Quechua lineage show on her face.

I see such dignity and strength there in her personage.

 

Another Ecuadoriana, we saw this woman on our way back from a short hike through her town. She was just as intrigued by us strangers in her midst as we were with her ready emotional warmth. She has the same traditional hand-blown gold beads around her neck, as well as red coral beads around her wrists. Women collect these over their lifetimes as a hedge against destitution. When times get tough, a woman can always sell a strand or two to feed her family.

She wears the native Quechuan fedora, white eyelet blouse, woolen poncho and navy wool skirt.

How often do we ever simply sit down on the sidewalk to rest our weary bones?

 

In our California seaside town, this woman was known as the Rainbow Lady. Anyone local recognized her zest for living, appreciated her love of wearing many colors at once and enjoyed her fearless free-style dancing while waving a long scarf about. Rumor had it that she was an ex-alcoholic who turned her life around. No wonder she was so happy!

Here, we are on the Capitola Wharf at a Fourth of July Jazz celebration. How can you look at her and not smile?

 

We met Alleen on a Windjammer barefoot cruise 20 years ago. She asked us to do her the favor of placing a pitcher of martinis with Santa Barbara jalapeno olives in our refrigerator to keep cold for Happy Hour! We merrily obliged, and received a daily martini at sunset for a reward!

Decades previously, she and her husband were traveling through Mexico when he unexpectedly died. Terrified and alone, she placed her husband's body in the passenger seat and drove all the way home to California.

Independent, courageous and fun, she has been an inspiration all these years.

 

Every time I see this woman, I have the same sentiments.

Fatigue, worry and resignation are etched in the series of lines on her face. One can tell that this was not an occasional experience, but a lifetime of struggle. Were her battles for survival? Due to illness? Did her children die? Did her husband abandon her?

Through it all, she has endured and persevered.

 

There is a sweetness and gentleness about this woman from Thailand that I enjoy. One cannot live the amount of years she has and not see sorrow of some sort.

Still, life has been good to her. She has her own teeth and I see an acceptance, humor and openness in her eyes.

 

This woman from Ha Noi, Vietnam strikes me as though nothing misses her gaze. Observant, perhaps even calculating, there is a quick intelligence in her eyes. She could be the family's matriarch. Certainly, she is nobody's  fool.

 

I love this photo!

The woman pictured here reminds me of me when I am engrossed in a project. I'm right in the middle of it and my 'stuff' is all over me! I especially like the whimsical curl of bamboo hanging from her hair.

She seems very content and focused. Stripping pieces of bamboo, she is preparing them for weaving.

 

Another contented and color-full woman. Preparing her fresh vegetables for sale, she bundles them with plastic string.

Photos such as this one and the one previous, remind me of how having a purpose adds to the satisfaction we feel in life.

How many times have I seen my Grandmother or Mother be focused on a project such as this?

 

This Mexican woman was the street sweeper just down from where we lived in Chapala, Mexico. When I would go to the morning market, or to catch the bus into the neighboring town of Ajijic to buy fresh fish, I would pass this woman happily sweeping the leaves from the sidewalks and street. She took her job very seriously.

"Buenos dias!" I would chirp to her. Being shy, she was surprised for weeks that I, a Gringo stranger, would speak to her. At first she would only nod her hello, but eventually she greeted me back in a very high-pitched voice:

"Buenos dias!"

Thereafter, we always looked for one another.

 

We hired a driver to go to a hilltribe market just north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. On the way out from the market, Billy approached this woman at her home to ask if he could take her photo. She was quite deaf, but she didn't mind, and Billy took several. She is selling some sort of seeds and candles while enjoying her morning smoke.

This woman's face evokes emotion from me because I see humor, love and wisdom there. Many hilltribe women smoke these hand-rolled cheroots of native tobacco.

Although I think this woman is 'ancient', Billy, being the contrarian that he is, tells me she is just 19, and that is what smoking will do to us!

 

A broom vendor takes a smoke break also. I love the personal freedom that these older women display. Why not wear a shower cap to keep one's hair free from the pervasive soot of traffic? They have lived too many years to waste time on impracticalities.

The broom handles are made from bamboo, and the sweeping section is built from native grasses. The two items are woven together at the connection point.

 

This is 'my' Jessie-Girl.

A young twenty-something when WWII broke out, Jessie recounts how she loved to go dancing in the evenings and would dance for hours on end. Soldiers went to these dance halls while on leave, and in fact, that is where Jessie met her husband.

One look across the dance floor at Jessie, and her soon-to-be husband was smitten with her. He approached her, asking her to dance, and said "You're the girl I'm going to marry."

Jessie never wanted to be a War Bride. She had dreams of learning to fly a plane!

Brilliant, funny, and engaged in Life, she will always be a role model for me.

 

Haddie is in her late 80's.

Every day we'd see her at our favorite beach in Naples, Florida, bent over collecting seashells for the flowers she makes from them. This was her morning exercise, as she would walk the 2 kilometers both ways from the home she and her husband built long before Naples was chic.

I collect seashells too, placing them in my embroideries and mixed media pieces. So we all became friends, and Haddie invited us to her home. She told us stories of floods and hurricanes that she survived over the years.

Time after time she impressed onto us that our attitudes towards life were a choice. She was warm hearted and open, showing little skepticism or fear.

Haddie is one astounding woman.

(Notice the carpet of seashells behind her!)

 

This ancient was rushing purposefully with something urgent on her mind.

Obviously, there is concern on her face, and it is personal.

Notice the amazing mass of hair she has swept on top of her head, and her earring which stretches her lobe. This extending of the ear lobe is quite common in hilltribe women.

When I see this photo, I wonder "What was it that was concerning her?"

I will never know!

 

It's 5 o'clock in the morning in Hoi An, Vietnam.

We hired Em, our boat paddler, to take us out onto the Thu Bon river to see the daybreak action of fishermen. Em glided us closely to other small boats so she could speak to the owners and ask of their predawn catch.

How many decades has this woman accompanied her husband in this way? How many seasons has she witnessed? I am most impressed by her beautiful pants and lovely headscarf! Is the color on her lips from some berry she ate?

 

We met this vendor while on a beach in Vietnam.

Billy and I were getting excellent foot massages by a young woman while a second young woman vendor came up to harass us. This second vendor wanted us to give her money 'since we had so much'. Her life was hard she said, and even though she had items to sell, she wanted our money without us buying one. She cussed at us in Vietnamese when we balked at her attitude, and shamed the woman who was giving us the foot massage.

The ancient woman here in this photo came up and smiled her warmth knowingly. Wanting to share the shade of our umbrella for a while, she simply observed the scenario without saying a word.

The contrasting personalities in this series of events indelibly marked it in my memory.

 

It's an early morning market up north in Thailand. We hired a driver to get us there in time to see the hilltribe wares for sale. This woman is selling her hand-stitched collars, traditional women's wear of the Lisu tribe.

She was quite lively and friendly towards us gaping Farangs.

She is chewing betelnut, a natural stimulant quite commonly used by the natives. Although in conventional dress, she has made a practical exception in wearing the large wristwatch on her left hand.

 

Billy and I were taking an early morning walk through the town of Luang Prabang, Laos, when I suddenly had the internal pull to look across the street. Under the trees shading her front porch was this tiny woman, and I could just barely see her in between the foliage. Something about this woman struck me, and I whispered to Billy: "There! Across the street! You must get her photo."

We approached shyly, reverently, and gave her the traditional waai greeting, which she is returning to us, here.

Her twenty-something granddaughter was making these little finger-imprinted rice flour rolls that you see in front of her, drying on the woven bamboo rack.

Because we were so respectful, and gave the venerated greeting, there was no suspicion. To me, this woman represents 'Peace In The Heart'. There is something staggering about her simple beauty.

Most of these women I will never see again. Yet their countenances have impressed my psyche. When I see their photos, I am freshly reminded of their wisdom and brilliant radiance of their personage.

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 Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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