Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Beggars, Part of an Expat Lifestyle
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
For your new retirement lifestyle, perhaps you decided to move to a
Then, all of a sudden, you become aware of the beggars on the street. It’s an
uncomfortable moment because in your home country these people are
institutionalized and not to be seen. Yet in many foreign countries, street
people - or beggars - appear “everywhere."
How do we deal with this new paradigm?
Let me share some stories with you.
Irresistible children can sometimes be
used for begging purposes
Not all street beggars are on the up and up
let me share that not all beggars are desperate, ill, or incapacitated. To
put it bluntly, they are frauds.
have heard stories and have seen where mothers will drug a baby or small
child so that they can "go out and get money for medicine" for the sick
baby. We know of other situations where a child has been injured, sometimes
severely, to serve this purpose. Sometimes the parents will send their
adorable child out to beg - which teaches them ... to beg!
teaching them how to read, how to count, how to sell or make something, they
are being brought up into a livelihood that serves no one. Least of all,
really must try and see through these dramatic circumstances with clear
instance, there is a man in the town of
Mexico who wears tattered clothes, a ripped hat and
sits on a sidewalk stoop with his head down. He shakes a shallow
basket with a few coins and holy cards of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Holding
onto his walking stick seemingly for balance, he asks for financial help as
people walk by. “Ayudame” (help me) he says slowly with a quivering voice.
I gave coins to this man for years until my Hispanic girlfriend told me to
stop. She explained, “He walks faster than you and I do! He’s a fake.”
found out later that week that this was true! Briskly walking upright on the
main street with his stick over his head, he passed me on his way to meet
his wife to count his take for the day. Now every time I see him vigorously
walking around town, I chuckle to myself. I was taken in, and I had no idea!
There is another man who has a fresh bandage on his leg whom we’ve seen for
a year or more, approaching us with his hand out asking for money. And still
another who wanders around, mixing with (mostly Gringo) strangers to tell them about his
wife who is in the hospital with cancer, leukemia, needs an operation, an
organ transplant, or special
medicine… all terribly expensive things that
he can’t afford.
Or the young man from India who said he arrived in Mexico, but now has no
money to get home and would we please give him some money for bus fare (to
We’ve seen him every time we go to our favorite beach,
He has been there for many months, working an unsuspecting
Going to work
However, there are the real street people, and they have real
Almost 30 years ago, there was one beggar we met in Caracas, Venezuela.
Tall, slender and a bit hunched over, he “went to work” every morning where
Billy and I had coffee. Keeping his standard rounds, it looked to me as
though he was doing what he could to support himself, just like going to
work. This was his job.
Though he was disabled he was also blessed with a happy disposition, which
made it easy to give to him. I think he was proud that he was supporting
himself, albeit, by the Grace and Humanity of others… and it seemed he was
integral to the community; He had a place to be, he had friends, and he had
something productive to do.
There was no shame for his condition, and his “regular supporters” were
happy to help him out.
This gave us both pause for reflection, as in our home towns, we had no
experience with disabled people on the street asking for coins. And, if they
were in this situation, you can be assured there would be shame involved.
The head of a Buddhist statue in
Thailand with Bodi tree roots grown around it
Another beggar I met was a young man in
Thailand who was in his
late teens or early twenty’s. He had AIDS and had joined the Buddhist
monastery for the remainder of his very short life.
With his begging bowl, he received alms outside the ordinary “begging times”
(from 6am to 10am) and often simply sat in meditation pose. He might have
been trying to collect money to pay for his medicine and contribute to the
Wat by keeping these longer hours.
One time I was drawn to touch his back simply as a gesture of humanity
(women are not allowed to touch
Buddhist monks!!) and it was … just bones.
I gasped and said a silent prayer of Light.
I had a “relationship” with another beggar in
Mexico some years
He had a cantankerous personality, but over time, we developed a sort of
He would DEMAND that I give him money and throw his hand out dramatically
(which of course, put me off…) He would refuse any food I gave him, as he
only wanted Pesos. Often, he would loudly scold me as I walked past.
Somehow, I felt embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, responsible, heavy with mental
burdens -- all old emotions from my early childhood religious training.
There was a time that it got so bad with him gesticulating and shouting at
me, that I found another way to get to the market and back home. I’d cross
the street or take a back road so as not to encounter him.
I gave a lot of thought to this situation, and it wasn’t so much that I
didn’t want to give to this unfortunate man, … it was everything else.
was the emotional darkness I felt around him, and I didn’t like that I had
given my power away. Because of how I felt about him, I had
changed the daily routines of my life.
This did not feel good to me and I felt there had to be another way to
Eventually I began to “throw my hand” out to him in the absurdity of the
moment, and that is when our “friendship” began. We both laughed about it,
and he learned that if he were patient and a bit nicer to me, I’d give him
the Pesos he craved.
I wanted to show him respect, and I also wanted some respect – human to
human – back from him. For me it was important to have it be a two-way
He was very ill… and probably in much pain. At some point, he quit showing
up at “his spot” and I assumed he had passed on.
I had known him for years.
Petrona had wrapped a headscarf around
Of another world
Billy and I spent nearly 7 years in
Guatemala, where older
called ancianas, would both beg and sell handmade woven or beaded
One anciana named Petrona spoke in her native Cakchiquel – or some
sort of mumbling that was a mixture of her language, a shaky voice and an
approximation of communication. Often, we would purchase something from her
just to give her money, or we’d buy her a hot chocolate, a coveted treat.
She was mild mannered, polite, always smiling, and her face was that of an
older angel. She had to have been the most photographed Maya woman in
Atitlan. Somehow, she exuded love and a kind of
One day Billy and I had mostly finished a very large lunch in town and had
the leftovers boxed to take home. Petrona came into the restaurant with her
smiling mumbles and I asked her in Spanish: “Are you hungry? Would you like
Her eyes grew wide and of course, she nodded yes.
She took our box of meat, rice, vegetables and tortillas and sat at another
table. Before she ate a single bite (she had to have been hungry!) she made
the sign of the cross, looked down at her hands folded in her lap, then
looked up to the sky. Her hands began pantomiming in communication as she
spoke to her Spirits, to Jesus, or to Whomever she was contacting. She had a
full conversation of Gratitude for this Gift of Food that simply appeared on
Thankfulness was written over her entire being, and when she was finished
letting the Gods know of her appreciation, she signed the cross again, and
began to eat.
The experience was very touching.
Lake Chapala at sunset
The Man in black
Currently, I am developing a relationship with another beggar on the main
Chapala, Mexico, near to where where we live. He is very quiet
overall and speaks almost in a whisper. Maybe 5 feet 6 inches, he’s dressed
in black from his cap to his dark shoes and utilizes a walking stick but I’m
not sure why. He carries a small rucksack with his possessions inside.
He is easy to overlook because he sort of blends in invisibly, which I think
he likes. He watches everyone and everything, and some days he rips up
tortillas to feed the street dogs and the birds.
I have given him food before, and he accepts it, thanking me each time.
Lately, I have been making sure I nod in recognition to him as I walk by,
saying good morning or afternoon, and he accepts that too. He prefers to sit
on the ground, in the sunny spots when it’s cooler, and in the shade when
One day, I took a chance, and asked him if he’d like a hot sandwich. After
he said yes, I told him I’d be right back – I think he was surprised,
curious and a bit confused. I told him I had already ordered it and now I
was going to pick it up. As I returned, he saw me coming, and stood up to
thank me. A gracious and respectful man!
I don’t know his story and I don’t need to, but I do wonder how this man
comes to living on the street. Where does he go to sleep when it’s cold or wet? This dark bearded
man with deep black eyes is rather mysterious.
It seems that
we both are meeting in the middle somewhere - a place where I am able to
give something, and he’s willing to accept. Every once in a while, I see him
smile. There might have been a slight twinkle in his eyes, but maybe I’m
Sometimes when I go shopping at the market, I throw an extra banana or piece
of fruit into my basket to give to him later. Or I purchase some of the
delicious meats the vendors sell where he sits to watch the
world go by.
Billy has seen him in front of one of his favorite cantinas where the man in
black sits in
the shade, causing no trouble. On the way into the bar one afternoon, Billy
asked him if he’d like a beer, and he nodded. The beer was delivered, and
Billy kept an eye on him to be sure the bottle was returned as is the policy
cantinas in Mexico.
When our dark, mysterious friend finished his brew, he brought the bottle
back inside, and thanked the bartender and Billy again. There had been no
need to worry, and it seems this man on the street is quite a gentleman.
For now, this almost wordless relationship works for the both of us. I am
grateful that he easily receives whatever I might have at the moment. In
this way we both win. He never demands, which makes me want to give to him
It has taken me almost two years to get to this comfortable place with him,
and I’m curious as to what this next year will bring.
Humanity in all its forms
I’m not sure what “the answer is” for all of these people we meet on the
our travels. How much can any one person take on? What is mine to
solve? Is something actually broken and needs to be fixed?
how does one spot a fraud?
the emotions churned up by these experiences are fodder for self-reflection.
I try to speak or engage with any street person who crosses my path in a
respectful, considerate manner, and I feel that it’s appreciated. Respecting
their humanity is a gift I can give.
What do you think? What would be your approach.
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