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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.

Solola to Concepcion, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

While great attractions like ancient Maya ruins and historic Colonial cities are abundant in Guatemala, there are small villages surrounded by stunning scenery that are worth a visit also. Concepcion is one such town. Nestled dramatically inside a caldera, this town is unaccustomed to seeing tourists and strangers. We were the oddity!

Come take a look.

Helen and Akaisha waiting for public transport to appear

Helen and Akaisha waiting for public transport to appear

From Panajachel, we took a 3 Quetzal (about $0.36 cents) chicken bus 1000 feet up the mountain to the larger town of Solola. Here we waited for a fletes truck to take us 7 kilometers to the indigenous town of Concepcion.

Prices for this ride were all over the map with the first driver sizing us up and deciding that we could pay double the local rate. Why not? We were tourists and how would we know any differently? Well they've never met Billy... So Billy goes from driver to driver and asks each what they charge for the ride. One driver who is as honest as the day is long quotes him the real price -- to the dismay of his buddies in the first taxi -- who then get out of their truck, march up to his vehicle and then give him the riot act!

They were just kidding... (sort of...) and they playfully punched and wrestled as testosterone-laden young men will do, all with smiles on their faces.

(Editor's note: For those who have been following the story of my finger accident, you will notice that my ring finger in the above photo looks pretty awesomely normal again!)

 

Panoramic view of Concepcion surrounded by steep walls

Panoramic view of Concepcion surrounded by steep walls

The scenery is dramatic here in Concepcion, with the town is spread out below the plunging wall sides. Local crops of cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers  and corn dot the plains.

 

Sunday treat of fruit syrup over fresh shaved ice

Sunday treat of fruit syrup over fresh shaved ice

There had been annoying and obstructive construction on the road from Panajachel to Solola, so we decided to take this trip on a Sunday because it had stopped for the day. The bonus was that we arrived in this tiny town with the Sunday market alive and active. A favorite treat here in the area is shaved ice with fruit syrup poured over it.

 

Gooey and refreshing

Gooey and refreshing

Tempting as it was, we restrained ourselves and passed by the drippy strawberry-topped snow cone.

 

A smelly source of protein

A smelly source of protein

 

 

 

 

An assortment of stinky dried fish and shrimp provide a source of protein and flavor for these indigenous. The two silver colored bowls in the center are the scales used for measuring the product.

 

Fruits and veggies

Fruits and veggies

Cucumbers, plantains, potatoes, papayas, chilies, melons and more -- all available here at the market.

Chilis, tomatoes and limes

Chilis, tomatoes and limes

Every village has distinctive attire which designates that inhabitant from other towns. This blouse is busily woven and females wear the style from the time they are children.

 

Conversation over carrots

Conversation over carrots

Markets are social scenes where neighbors and friends can catch up on the latest news and happenings. Here you see women chatting it up among the produce. Notice the hand woven cloths used for carrying bags -- very similar to the hand woven cloth of their blouses.

 

Names and accounts

Names and accounts

Women line up to have their names written down and the amounts of money they want to put on their credit. Notice all the colorful woven cloths on their heads, as well as the baby wraps on their backs and their patterned blouses.

The lady in the center, 3rd from the left, was a hoot. Apparently, we as foreigners caused such a stir that the braver ones among them would poke us in various bodily locations like our ribs or back side. This woman literally "bopped" me on the head with her hand as she passed by!

I decided I'd play the game too, so I snuck up on her and gently yanked her braids. She was most surprised, but returned my playfulness (and personal bravery) with a wide smile.

 

Brothers pose for a photo

Brothers pose for a photo

We just love the natives! So friendly and willing to engage, these brothers were clowning around and stopped their antics to pose for a photo. Thanks Guys!

 

Beans in a bowl, baby on the back

Beans in a bowl, baby on the back

In these ancient cultures, gender roles are defined. For the most part, residents seem happy with the security and community these role destinctions provide.

 

The natural beauty of a child's smile

The natural beauty of a child's smile

This gorgeous young girl, perhaps the age of nine, is in traditional dress with an embroidered huipile (wee-peel) and is well versed in carrying a bundle atop her head. This bundle of goods weighs maybe 20 pounds.

How can you resist her beauty, industriousness and physical strength?

 

Local church in Conception

Local church in Conception

This church was built in 1621 and is in good condition after all these centuries. The carved wood ceilings inside are amazingly intricate. There are individual statues and large pieces of ancient walls with carved statues in hollowed out niches from this time period. You can still see remnants of the gold paint used. Next to the rows of pews in the church is a life-sized velvet-covered wooden cross that must be used in religious ceremonies during Lent. That thing looked heavy!

While we were here, a baptism was being performed and the whole family was in attendance.

 

Colorful threads in a whirl

Colorful threads in a whirl

 

 

 

 

The women in Guatemala are known for their well made and colorful textiles, and the quality of their embroidery and woven cloth is a wonder to behold. This woman's display of thread for sale shows a wide variety of the colors available.

 

Family-focused Guatemalans

Family-focused Guatemalans

Here you see once again some examples of native weaving and embroidery. The Mother is wearing a blouse and skirt that are both hand woven in a native pattern and the child she carries on her back is wrapped in a cloth that is also hand woven. The small child on the left is wearing a traditional blouse called a huipile (wee-peel) that has flowers in three dimensional embroidery over lace.

In the background you will see meat hanging from a hook and a pile of chicken carcasses. Rarely, if ever, will you find refrigeration in these market places.

 

Roberto, our tuk tuk driver

Roberto, our tuk tuk driver

After our playful visit in Conception, we decided to take a tuk tuk back to the town of Solola. For 20 Quetzales each person we were transported through the winding mountain roads and we were able to stop at any spot along the way to take photographs. Our friends are in the green tuk tuk ahead of us which you can see through the window.

By the way, Roberto was twelve years old and very excited to be making 40Q's from one fare.

 

Local fletes taxi

Local fletes taxi

This photo shows an example of a local fletes taxi like the one we took the 7km from Solola to Conception. Some fletes have seats but others are standing room only.

 

Decent roads, rolling hillsides

Decent roads, rolling hillsides

The countryside is beautiful through these mountains. On the left side of the road you see some dead corn stalks. Since corn is a staple here in Central America, corn is planted anywhere possible. Most often there will be beans winding up the corn stalks and squash growing as well. Most families have their own milpa which is a self-sustaining agricultural method.

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 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 available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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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