Retire Early Lifestyle
Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler

 
 

Retire Early Lifestyle Blog  Free Newsletter Subscribe/Contact Us

Advertise on RetireEarlyLifestyle.com info here

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.

Let Antigua into Your Heart

Antigua, Guatemala

(Pronounced: Ahn-TEE-gwah, Gwah-tay-MAH-lah)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Currency Conversion Site

I heard from a native here, that the best way to see Antigua is to wander. "Take your time and go through the small streets. People are friendly. Say hello. Let Antigua into your heart."

Sounds like an enchanting way to let an ancient colonial city grow on you, doesn't it? Fortunately, since we are house sitting for two months in a small village just a 20 cent bus ride away, we can wander and wonder all we like. What a great way to spend the summer.

Volcanoes Fuego (on the left) and Acatenango (on the right)

We see both of these volcanoes from our bedroom window and up on the rooftop garden terrace. There are three impressive giants here in Antigua, and Volcan Agua is not shown in this photo. Fuego spouts steam on a daily basis and is an active volcano. Agua has shook, rattled and literally rolled Antigua in centuries past, and this old capital of New Spain was covered in soupy mud. Hence, the name Agua.

The ground here in the Antigua area is often in motion and we have felt many tremors since our arrival. Chandeliers swaying, four-poster beds jumping... it's a way of life.

A corner conversation

One of the impressive lessons the indigenous and locals have taught us is the importance of relationships. Often far reaching, and with layer upon layer, the social network is a living web of human connection.

The anciana on the left has lived in this corner house her whole life. The younger woman on the right grew up here, but has moved on into the capital city of Guatemala. Still, on visits, she makes it a point to chat with her neighbor of may years past.

The very old along side the very new

Cobblestone streets, and timeless cement and stucco buildings add a quaint and picturesque sense to this friendly city. Most Latin American cities and towns will have wrought iron covering their windows to keep ladrones out. But if one is going to have metal bars keeping thieves away, why not add some beauty to the stark reality and plant flowers?

A modern day scooter is a favored mode of transportation. Affordable, quick and easy to park. Plus we see families of 4 and 5 riding together on these things. It's the family sedan.

A reminder of where we are

Horses are still an integral part of this mountainous area and is the only transport of some who live in the hills.

We are often reminded of the Spanish influence while we live here; large, thick, wooden doors with iron bolts and locks, the abundance of archways, and the colonial architecture.

Billy at Radio Amiga

Wandering around one afternoon, Billy knocks on the door of Radio Amiga. "Could I record one of my stories here in your studio?" he asked. Sure! No problemo. In another booth, the Voice of Radio Antigua was on the air.

In this photo, Billy is the Voice of Retire Early Lifestyle.

One way to have your dreams come true is simply to ask!

Fresh! Delicious! and just $4USD a plate!

One of our favorite restaurants in Antigua is Restaurant Santa Maria. Meals are consistently tasty and food is fresh. These plates of fish or steak with varied vegetables, grilled potatoes and garlic bread, accompanied by a fruit juice cost $4.25USD each. We could spend more in trendy restaurants, but we like this clean, friendly and locally owned establishment.

With only 6 tables, there is nearly always a line out the door. Service is quick and cordial.

And... as a side note, restrooms are clean too!

 

Inner city garden area

Archways left over from Spanish occupation, thick stone buildings, deep set doors and windows, and volcanoes in the background. This little plazita offers respite from wandering the streets and it is set directly inside a time-captured painting.

Seeing places like this on a daily basis, how could anyone be bored?

There is more story under the surface

Children are everywhere and are often part of the workings in a tienda. Women carry them on their backs and bring them to their jobs - in this case, a tortilleria. Amid the slap-slap-slapping of making tortillas going on in the background, these just-past-toddlers greet the young boys who were sent out by their own mothers to purchase tortillas for the family's meal.

Making relationships from the very start of one's life, the fabric continues to be woven for decades to come.

Another delicious lunch

One of the obvious benefits of living in the tropics is the availability of fresh produce simply bursting with flavor and color. We were invited to share lunch at a friend's place and this simply delectable meal hit the spot. Conversation added perspective and humor.

House sitting adds comfort to travel

Another one of our house sits, this time in Antigua. Indoor/outdoor living is the style in the lower latitudes and it is one we truly enjoy. Fresh air circulates, garden plants add color and the palm tree on the left goes up through to the second floor!

Whimsical and wonder-full!

Volcan Agua

This is the big bad guy that blew his top in 1541 and schlepped villages and villagers down his sides in a torrent of mud. Nobody hears much from him these days as he has been inactive since the mid 16th century. However, he is still capable of producing volcanic debris flows and lahars, which is the torrent of muddy water down his sides.

Coffee plantations dot his lower slopes and his is an unavoidable, majestic presence in this area.

The Maya Maytag

These wash basins are common in Central America. It's where young girls and women come to do their laundry. Having a source of fresh water available is prized and is something many homes still do not possess.

A gathering place, these laundry areas are locations for social contact where news and information is exchanged.

If one "must" do laundry, what a view to enjoy!

Notice how fatigued these cement wash basins are, with the paint worn through from so many people using them over the years.

A closet-sized cafe

Little restaurants and cafes are everywhere and these very small businesses are easier for the owner to handle financially - both with start up costs and maintaining employees. Having so many boutique locations to choose from adds color and convenience to our meanderings.

The Little Grandparent's place

Here's another entrepreneur with only a tiny window of operation and a couple of signs. That's all it takes and word of mouth does the rest. Business is done from this home in "take-away style" through the window and the kitchen is in the back. With only three products, the menu is not overwhelming, and when The Little Grandparents sell out, they are done for the day.

They sell hot chicken tamales, a sweet tomato and chocolate tamale (negros) and a 'salty' tomato tamale (colorados).

Notice the deep set arched doorway in this concrete building.

The Adventurer's Guide to Guatemala

Don’t go to Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click here

Street walking vendor

Other vendors walk the streets with their products and find customers themselves. This woman is selling limes and buttery avocados. The policeman stops to take a look. It's possible he wants an avocado for lunch with some fresh squeezed lime, or perhaps he will take a supply home.

Depending on the size and style of avocado, they can be 3-5 of them for $1.25USD

Indoor terraces and gardens add a glorious touch

Another hand-me-down from the Spanish are these open garden squares in the center of large, open-air rectangular homes. Every room has a view to the colorful garden and fountain outside and this view brings nature right in to their every day lives.

It's a beautiful and peaceful manner of living.

 

Grand archways of a local museum

Repeating arches are another architectural style brought over from Europe. This imperial building has a much larger inner square, but the style is similar to the indoor/outdoor home above, just more majestic.

Horse drawn carriages add a touch from the past

These carriages are seen all over downtown Antigua and add a palpable impact of antiquity.

Due to an energetic and focused foreigner, these horses are receiving better care than they have in decades. They are being shoed on a regular basis now, with a special lip to the shoe to better handle the cobblestones. Shelters from the rain have been built, horses have nutritious feed, are being brushed and have dental care. Drivers receive gold stars for the upgraded care of their horses, something they display with pride.

The displaying of these stars is also a motivation to other drivers to better care for their horses, a positive source of peer pressure.

Scouts of Central America

Walking around, one never knows what they'll find! This group stopped what they were doing and were being photographed with their Scout Master. Billy saw them posing and snapped a shot himself.

We have no idea what the large sticks are for.

Work overseas! Teach English!

People all over the world want to learn English, as it is the World's Business Language. If you would like to teach English as a foreign language, get your certificate and many doors will be open to you.

Why not come to gorgeous Antigua and study here?

Billy can't resist the Latina beauty

He's not gone for five minutes and finds a group of dazzling youths who are eager to be in the same photo as he.

Such charm!

A neighborhood bar

At 8 Quetzales to a Dollar, these drink prices are a bargain!

The top chalkboard lists non-alcoholic drinks on the left, and beers on the right. The bottom oval board has mixed drinks with the toast "To your health!"

Baskets filled with colorful tropical delights

These days, fresh strawberries are selling two pounds for 5 Quetzales or 32 cents a pound. These bananas can be purchased for about 38 cents the whole bunch.

Volcan Agua is a landmark

At the end of many streets you will find Agua. If you get lost in town, you utilize Agua's presence to find your way.

This photo shows you the cobblestone streets, the old cement and stucco buildings, the brilliant skies that are Antigua.

San Francisco, another ancient Church

Churches dating from the 1500s are all over Central America and are a reminder of centuries past. Archways over archways, huge, heavy doors, deeply set windows and crèches all replicate buildings the Spanish left back in Europe. With the high mountain walls as a background, one can easily fantasize being there.

Another Antigua street ending in Agua

It's the rainy season here now. Mornings are generally glorious with the air being clear from the moisture having fallen the night before. One will find the Tourist Police on the street corners and if you need help, they are quite friendly. Antigua is noticeably clean and you won't find much trash thrown in the streets.

Buildings are colorful with decorative wrought iron on both doorways and windows and traffic is minimal.

Moveable shops

As I mentioned previously, small vendors will set up their wares just about any place. These women have chosen a shady corner to sell their bags of sliced papaya and mango with lime and/or chili.

The lady on the left is wearing a lacey half-apron, very common in Guatemala. They have multiple pockets for change, her cell phone, pens or anything else she might want to carry around with her.

The Arch of Santa Catalina, a magazine cover!

One never knows what they will see when turning a corner and here, Volcan Agua is framed by a buttercup colored archway. Latin countries are not afraid of using color for their buildings, and the brightness makes for cheery photos.

On the right you see a building made of stone and brick, and on the left is a deeply set doorway into a goldenrod-colored front. Windows with their wrought iron frames and potted plants protrude into the sidewalks. Lovely to look at, but sometimes one's shoulders will get caught on the edge when passing by.

A vendor sits in the shaded doorway taking a break. He might have set up shop there, if that door is not a viable entrance.

Again, you see cars parked, but traffic itself is minimal. It's more fun to amble along.

Cappuccino perfection!

It's coffee country here with coffee and roasting shops abounding. A perfectly foamed cappuccino costs 12 Quetzales, about $1.50USD.

Cigar heaven

Neither of us smoke so we don't know the pleasures of cheroots. But we see cigar houses in these Latin countries selling their famous hand rolled stogies. Excellent cigars come from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Cuba with dozens of styles, shapes and grades of tobacco.

Europe was unaware of tobacco until Columbus returned from his impressive sea voyage of 1492. But Mayans depicted themselves on their ancient pottery smoking a long roll of tobacco leaves tied up with string. Here in Guatemala it is claimed that the word "cigar" comes from the Maya language, because "Sik'ar" is the Maya word for "smoke."

What do you think?

Antigua's Municipal Building at the Plaza Mayor

Again, you can see that daily traffic is not a problem here in El Centro, Antigua. One can pretty much cross most streets anywhere you would like, not just on corners. However, on weekends you will find this place jammed packed with tourists from the capitol, Guatemala City.

The Main Plaza in Antigua gives a royal feeling and with the colonial architecture, it's easy to let the mind float to "Old Spain."

Antigua's Plaza Mayor, a gathering place

The design of having gardens and a fountain in the center with all four streets facing in to it is another repeated pattern - from the indoor/outdoor homes to the bbeautiful courtyards of grand buildings, to the actual Main Plaza in the center of any town.

And plazas are gathering places for everyone!

Rest your weary bones on a park bench in the shade, daydream to the sound of the fountain, buy an ice cream from a wandering vendor, play dominoes with some old friends, listen to live musicians or watch mimes capture the crowd. 

There is always something to do.

Agua, once more

It's becoming later in the day, and clouds gather around Agua for the afternoon storm. Time to take our 20 cent bus ride back to our little village on the edge of Antigua and watch the rains pour over our garden terrace from inside our cozy bedroom. It's been another colorful day in El Centro of Antigua and we'll return again in the next day or so to purchase some freshly roasted and ground Guatemala coffee to take home, to visit some ancient ruins of a church or convent built in the 1500s or to go to the maze-of-a-market for fresh produce.

Why not come visit Antigua and see for yourselves?

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.

For more information about financial independence and travel, visit our book store

Sign up for great stories, interesting tales, and superb retirement information.

Contact Billy & Akaisha  TheGuide@RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Advertise on RetireEarlyLifestyle.com contact Ad-Info@retireearlylifestyle.com
Over 1,400,000 visitors annually.

Billy and Akaisha continue to journal and photograph their world travels.

HOME   Book Store

 

Retire Early Lifestyle Blog      About Billy & Akaisha Kaderli      Press     Contact     20 Questions     Preferred Links     Retirement     Country Info    
Retiree Interviews
      Commentary     REL Videos