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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.

San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

One of the great things about living on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is the proximity of the neighboring lakeside towns. Each place captivates with their own flavor and personality, and are very different one from the other. On this day, we decided to visit San Marcos, well known for its New Age classes and hippie culture.

Come take a look!


Heading out across the volcanic lake

We caught an early launcha to cross the lake from Pana to San Marcos. At 20 Quetzales per person one way (about $2.50USD), we stopped at every small town and almost every private dock along the ride to our destination. The day was pristine and the stops were all a pleasant part of the journey.

As befitting our trip for the day, notice the peace symbol on the motor housing.


Our Captain, Antonio, in his hoodie

It is common practice here in Guatemala for children to learn a trade from their parents beginning when they are quite young. Antonio, our Captain, told us he was 18 and had been driving this boat since he was 7 years old. He displayed a no-nonsense, I'm-in-charge, responsible attitude - which, for a Captain - felt just fine. Especially since we're on a lake that is somewhere between 1,000 - 2,000 feet deep, depending on who you ask.


Blue skies, blue water, ancient volcanoes

It's easy to drift along with one's thoughts - or lack of them - when boating on the lake. The beauty is mesmerizing.

San Pedro Volcano is on the right and Volcanoes Atitlan and Toliman (in front) are on the left.

The beautiful lake itself is about 12 miles long by 6 miles wide.


Grand homes on the sides of the caldera

There are some beautiful homes on the side of this caldera, and some are only reachable by boat. Here you see a rambling house with a private dock. Many residents also have their own launchas as you see here in the lower left hand side.

A couple of homes together

Here are a few more homes grouped together with perhaps a guest cottage, a rental or a mother-in-law cottage down by the lake. Beautiful volcanic stone is used for the fences and walls. A private dock and a launcha is on the lower left. Notice the blue and white Guatemalan flag above the small boat.


Captain Billy

Billy made friends with Captain Antonio, and the Captain offered to take a photo of Billy driving the boat. When we saw Billy at the helm, we all joked that we should put our life jackets on! With no power steering, guiding the boat took more strength than one would have initially thought.


Helen and Akaisha smile for the camera

We must have made six or more stops along the edge of the lake with passengers coming and going at each one. The mornings can be chilly on the water and you will notice the clear plastic at the windows that cut down on the breeze and water spray into the boat.


The breeze blows through my hair

Eventually, it was more important to us to see the scenery than to stay protected from the chill. We rolled and tied the long plastic window cover at each bench. Captain Antonio wanted us to be sure the plastic was evenly rolled up and not haphazard. He runs a tight ship!


Pink paradise at water's edge

In the last several years, Lake Aititlan - which is an endorheic lake - has been rising. Previous earthquakes have cracked the lakebed and allows surface drainage but this drainage seems to be a cyclic phenomenon. Currently, there are boat houses and dock platforms that are under water and some beach areas have disappeared.


The colors during winter are subtle

Rainy season is in the summer months and the winters are beautiful, clear and dry. The colors of the flora lose their brilliance but the contrast of the gray, sage and sand brown are still beautiful against the evergreen trees and deep blue waters.


Flowers and produce in San Marcos

Tiny markets line the pathway from the dock to the main part of town where residents can purchase mainstays like fruit, eggs and flowers. Larger markets are available in more populated Panajachel.


Everyone works

Contributing to the household through work is a solid value in Guatemala. These boys have crates of tomatoes and are carrying them to the simple markets on this small walkway. Since their heads were down, they did not see me, and my walking between them was like threading a needle. Why didn't I just step aside to let them pass? Because when I turned around, they were a foot in front of me and there was no escape!

I lifted my arms and "thought skinny." As you see, we all survived!


This small gray sand beach is still above water

Tourists and locals swim in this refreshing lake and enter from a dock or a beach like this one. Some prefer not to swim saying the lake is polluted. Opinions seem to differ on the health of this lake from year to year.


Cheeseburger in Paradise

A friend of ours owns The Dragon Hotel and Restaurant, so we all visited his place for lunch. Here is his Dragon Cheeseburger with sautéed potatoes, salad and guacamole.


Million Dollar View

No matter where you look at the lake, it's exquisite. This particular view is from one of the Dragon Hotel's platforms and with the shifting clouds, the mist, the seasons and time of day, the vista constantly changes.

For more stories about Guatemala, click here

To learn more about Guatemala as a retirement destination, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, 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 available on their website bookstore or on

Retire 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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