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.
The Birthplace of Zorro!
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Continuing on our
El Chepe trip through Mexico's
Copper Canyon, our last stop on this leg was El Fuerte.
El Fuerte, meaning "The Fort" has
beautiful architecture, interesting history, and among other things, boasts
to be the birthplace of the legendary folk hero, Zorro.
Well... gotta see THAT!
El Chepito, the "Little El Chepe"
I'm pretty silly, but I would love to
take this mini tour vehicle
through the town of El Fuerte. What could it hurt?
I'm sure traffic would stop to allow us
through, and we're big enough that anyone could see us coming... Best of
all, I probably wouldn't get motion-sick!
Woooo, WOOOOO!!! Chugga, chugga, chugga.
Mexico's flag with the eagle eating a
snake while perching on a blooming paddle cactus
This particular image comes from an Aztec
legend. Their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a
nopal eating a serpent. The city that the Aztecs built is now
Mexico City was first called Mexico
Tenochtitlan. It was built on an island in what was then Lake Texcoco
in the Valley of Mexico. These days, the lake is gone, but the city still
Colorful El Fuerte city sign
All over Mexico, today's fashion is to
have the name of the city spelled out in big, bright, colorful letters while
depicting history or notable things about the town on the letters
Here you see the large "El Fuerte"
letters standing proudly in the center of town at the Plaza.
You will find similar style letters in
Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara airport,
Comitan and even
the old, old town of
El Fuerte's Municipal Building
The colonial city of El Fuerte was
founded in 1564 by the Spanish captain Francisco de Ibarra. At the time it
was known as the town of San Juan Bautista de Carapoa.
In 2009, El Fuerte, Sinaloa became one of
the "Pueblos Magicos" of Mexico. A "Magic Village" is Mexico's version of a
World Heritage Site where you can experience Mexico's rich history and
This Municipal building houses every
aspect of local and regional government. It is huge and has been restored to
it's original splendor.
The Deer Dance done by Natives is
depicted in the center of this mural.
Inside the municipal building are murals
on the stair wells and other interior walls. The painter was a self-taught
These sorts of murals
representing the local and Mexican history in general are very common in
The fort itself and El Chepe train
This looks like the fort in El Fuerte is
being held by the hands of a clergy man, coming up from a clerical collar.
I'm not sure of the significance of this particular symbolism, but it was
important to the town - or at least to the painter - in order to include it
The Aztec Warrior and The Maiden
If you have been to Mexico, chances are
you have seen this stylized version of The Aztec Warrior and His Maiden.
The story goes like this:
Before the Spanish came, Aztecs ruled
Mexico. A Tlaxcala warrior fell in love with his princess, who was known for
her incredible beauty. His name was Popocatépetl, hers was Iztaccíhuatl;
Popo and Izta for short.
Popo asked Izta's father for her
hand in marriage and the father agreed, but only if Popo returned victorious
from battling the Aztecs, with the heads of his enemies to prove it. So Popo
went off to war, promising to return. After months of waiting, a rival of
Popo's, in love with Izta himself of course and with mal-intent, told the
princess that her warrior would never return because he had died in battle.
Heartbroken, Izta became deeply depressed
and died of a broken heart. When Popo finally did return carrying the heads
his enemies, he found a corpse instead of bride.
So, consumed with grief, Popo carried
Izta's body to the mountains, where he laid her out and stood watch over
her. After a long sorrowful vigil, the gods took pity on them, transforming
the tragic couple into the eternal peaks of Popo and Izta. These are the
"Smoking Mountain" watching over the sleeping figure of the "White Lady
Mountain," his love her smoldering for eternity.
The Portales at El Fuerte's Plaza
The day was beautiful and a bit of
wandering around El Fuerte brought us to the main Plaza. This is a style of
Mexican cities that you will see all over the country. With a garden-filled
plaza in the middle - usually with a fountain - the government buildings
surround it. A church or cathedral is part of the architectural mix as well.
People gather at the plaza because
"everything" is there. Religious and secular buildings, gardens, stores,
restaurants and natural beauty.
In the center of the Plaza
Almost always, there is a gazebo in the
center of the plaza too. Here you see the fountain, the beautiful gardens
and the gazebo. Often there will be free entertainment performed from the
gazebo and people can gather around, dance and enjoy the music.
Placido Vega y Dasa was a governor of
Sinaloa and warrior for Mexico
Placido Vega y Dasa was a General of the
Mexican military and the Governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
He was a direct
descendent from Cristopher Columbus' great-great grandson and was also a direct
descendant of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. His ancestors were members of
royalty and nobility of Spain. His illustrious family owned vast lands,
valleys, and gold mines, but Placido did not sympathize with his family's
ideology of repression of the poor.
Since he was both
idealistic and had an intense personality, he pursued a military career and
became governor at the age of 29.
Evidently through the
twists of history, he also became a vice-president of the Union Club of San
Francisco in the United States. As an officer of the Union Club, he contributed both time and
money working on Abraham Lincoln's 1864 re-election.
Billy and Akaisha smiling with the sun
in their eyes!
Should I sneeze or smile? It was a tough
Take the picture, Billy! Take the
The renovated home of the legendary
There seems to be some confusion over whether Zorro, in Spanish meaning The
Fox, is a real or fictional character.
Americans tend to believe he was a
fictional character created in 1919 by American writer Johnston McCulley.
But Mexicans have told the story of Zorro from generation to generation and
that story was still heard in the times of Porfirio Diaz, who ruled as President of
Mexico from 1184 to 1911.
Diego de la Vega, soon to be known as
Zorro, was born here in this hacienda in 1804.
His birthplace has been renovated and is
now a hotel across from the famous fort from which El Fuerte gets its name.
A statue of Zorro inside the Hacienda
where he was born
In this beautiful hacienda, which is now
a resort hotel, you will find a bronze statue of the Legendary Hero, Zorro.
According to the chronicles, Zorro was
born in this town located between the Sea of Cortez and the Copper Canyon.
While Diego de la Vega
spent his first 10 years here in El Fuerte, business concerns brought his
father, Don Alejandro, to Alta California.
Years went by and in 1821 (when Zorro
would have been 17) rumors began to
reach El Fuerte of the hero/bandit of California who defended the cause of
the poor against the Spanish rule.
A closer look at the handsome bronze
statue of Zorro with his sword and whip
American writer Johnston McCulley had
his fictional Zorro make his debut in the 1919 novel The Curse of Capistrano.
McCulley took the information about the legend and created a fabricated
character. Originally this novel was meant as a stand-alone story. However, the success
of the 1920 film adaptation The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks
convinced McCulley to write more Zorro stories for about four decades.
So is Zorro a for-real hero? Or simply a
figment of an American writer's imagination?
Maybe he's both!
A restored fort on the site of the
In 1610 a fort was
built to ward off the fierce Zuaque and Tehueco Native Americans, who
constantly harassed the Spaniards.
The city of El Fuerte
(The Fort) gets its name due to a fortress like this restored one, built to
protect these Spaniards from the natives who used to attack this village.
El Fuerte served as the gateway to the
vast frontiers of the northern territories of
California, all of which were sparsely populated by these tribes of
At the top of the fort looking out
At the fort's lookout, you can see the
city on one side, and the Nature Preserve on the other. Boats can be hired
to take you on bird watching tours or to go Black Bass fishing.
Um... do you have any bananas?
In tropical climates we purchase bananas
regularly for the potassium they have and for their ease of eating. You
wouldn't believe how many styles of bananas are available!
Here I am at a small local fruit and
vegetable market in El Fuerte.
The Plaza, El Fuerte, Mexico
Back at the Plaza in El Fuerte, which
looks a bit like the Plaza in
You can catch the
El Chepe Train here in El Fuerte
also, and take it onwards to Chihuahua. Plan to spend a day or so here,
especially if you like boating, fishing or birding.
For more stories and places of
interest in Mexico,
For videos of Mexico,
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.
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