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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.

Oaxaca, Mexico
(Pronounced: Wa-HAA-ka, MAY-hee-coh)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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What a year it's been! We needed some time to play, take a break away from PC's, TV's and the hectic life we lead in Chapala. So we decided to take one month to travel in southern Mexico far away from it all. Our first stop was the beautiful city of Oaxaca.

 

This is the centuries old cathedral called Santa Domingo, located in the Colonial Centro. Construction began in 1572 by the Dominican Friars and was completed 200 years later. The inside is filled with ornate gilded paintings and statues from the best artisans of that time period. The attached monastery to the left is now a regional museum. Entrance fee for the museum is 48 pesos per person, currently under $4 USD.

 

Indigenous ancianas like this woman are a very common sight in the city. Headdresses such as the one she is wearing are colorful and there are several different styles of wrapping them. Personally, I think it's a great idea - one never has to worry about a 'bad hair' day! I am seriously considering taking up this habit.

 

Here is a lovely corner building, typical of the colonial architecture seen everywhere in Oaxaca city, capital of the state of Oaxaca.

 

Street vendors are everywhere. In this photo a woman is selling her hand embroidered dresses and blouses. Oaxaca is famous for this style of clothing. The embroidery takes days, weeks, and for some of the more ornate styles, months.

This is just another 'day at the office', and her children are beside her. The young girl with the notebook on her lap is doing some homework. The woman on the far right end of the photo is looking at her cell phone.

 

This refurbished old convent of Santa Catalina is now a hotel with several restaurants and is run by The Camino Real hotel chain. Garden areas are everywhere in this spectacularly beautiful rambling building.

 

For fun, we chose to celebrate our Thanksgiving Day meal at the Camino Real Convent Restaurant. Here we are with our friends, Dennis and Martha. Although we only ordered 2 combination platters, there was easily enough food left over to feed 4 more people!

Plates were heaped with grilled arrachera (tenderized, marinated beef), chicken breasts, pork, chorizo (sausage), quesadillas, guacamole, chapulines* and salad. With a pitcher of fresh fruit drink, the total came to 300 pesos per couple, about $23 USD. Even at this great price, the meal was by far the most expensive we had in Oaxaca!

*Chapulines are grasshoppers considered a delicacy by many Mexicans. They are collected only at certain times of the year, thoroughly cleaned and washed out, then toasted on a clay cooking surface with garlic and lemon juice, and sal de gusano to create a sour-spicy-salty taste. Chapulines are available only in certain parts of Mexico, the state and city of Oaxaca being the most famous. Chapulines are known to have been used as food for over 3000 years.

 

Oaxaca city is very celebratory. Parades, musical gatherings, clowns, mimes, fireworks, balloons and other entertainment is common at the Zocalo, the main city plaza. Here is one darling of a young girl having the time of her life with a dulce (sweet) in her hand, and dressed to the nines in native costume.

 

Food is also fabulous and fresh in Oaxaca. This woman is making fresh quesadillas on a hot grill over a fire.

 

Oaxaca is a cafe society and there are so many cafes to choose from! It's a lifestyle that everyone enjoys.

 

This shot shows you more cafes at the Zocalo. A great place to take a break, eat and enjoy time with friends.

Notice the woman in the center of the photo with the wrapped yellow scarf on her head. This is a common manner in which the local women wear their hair. It's not exactly a hat, but adds color to one's outfit, and one's hair doesn't have to be 'perfect'.

 

There are many 'walking streets' in old colonial Oaxaca. Certain streets are blocked off and pedestrians have the right of way, making it really pleasant to saunter through town.

 

While walking through the main market near the Zocalo, we discovered a type of bar-b-que restaurant where you can purchase freshly sliced beef or chorizo links which are then grilled over an open flame. The meats you see here are almost paper thin like carpaccio, and you purchase your meal piece by piece. You are then charged by the kilo. The open air restaurants are quite clean and appealing.

 

Here you see women grilling someone's lunch. Maybe it's ours! In this particular grilling market, there must have been close to 20 such 'restaurants' from which to choose your meats and sit at their tables.

 

Colorful chiles of various sorts are everywhere in Mexico and what's a meal without chile?

 

Every item at these restaurants is purchased separately for 10 pesos a plate, just over 75 cents. Above is a selection of salad, radishes, a type of fresh salsa, and avocado sauce (for your meat), all freshly made. Notice the heavy volcanic stone containers under the tray. These are mortars used for grinding spices and other food stuffs with a pestle - or, as you see here, bowls for mixing or display.

 

Grilled to perfection!

This is our meal. Freshly made tortillas, grilled paper-thin beef, jalapenos, onions and fresh avocado. The flavors were to die for!

 

A sky view of the Santa Domingo Cathedral from the amphitheater that was built into the "Cerro del Fortín", a hill that overlooks central Oaxaca. This is where the Guelaguetza is celebrated each year. The word Guelaguetza is from the Zapotec language and means "reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services".

This hilltop view also gives you a better look at the attached monastery to the Church. It's quite large! In the period of the revolutionary wars, all of these buildings were turned over to military use, and from 1866 to 1902 they served as a barracks. The church was restored to religious use in 1938 and the monastery became a regional museum in 1972.

 

This is the local Theater, a gorgeous corner colonial building. We read the schedule of events and found that international orchestras, singers and musicians were all listed to play, with an entry fee of P50 which is currently less than $4 USD!

One could easily spend a few months here and enjoy the celebrations, the food and the affordable cultural scene available.

 

Every other Sunday there is a gathering of people who fix food to raise money for their church. This is easily the best deal in town. If you are in Oaxaca, be sure to check it out. On the corners of Indenpendencia and Reforma/Fernandez Fialo. Lots of food and excellent prices, and it's a real family affair. People are friendly, fun and very welcoming. The food was delicious!

 

Here women are preparing fresh tortillas with their tortilla press. The fresh cornmeal 'dough' is in the aqua colored bowl in the center of the table. Note the grill to the right in the photo.

 

These grilled plantains with condensed milk drizzled over them was one of the desserts offered at this gathering. DEE-licious!

 

Mexican cantinas still have the swinging doors commonly seen in the old American Western films. There's something very satisfying about entering a bar through these type of swinging doors, swaggering through and saying to the bartender "I'll have a sarsaparilla, please!"

(The tequila is pretty good too!)

 

'Everyone' is an entrepreneur. Small businesses are in abundance. This shop sells fresh fruit juices and fruit shakes.

 

From the colonial and magnificent to the contemporary and simple, Oaxaca offers beauty in many forms. This small courtyard garden is an effort to create privacy and to beautify a doorway leading elsewhere.

 

An upscale hostel in the center of Oaxaca city. There are lots of choices of lodging here as it is a favorite tourist destination.

 

Aaaaaahhh... the moles of Oaxaca!

Mole means sauce and you might be familiar with the word guacamole (avocado sauce). In modern day Mexico, there are seven moles: black, red, yellow, colorado, green, almendrado, and pipián.

Oaxaca's famous mole negro, or black mole is made with chocolate, so it's easy to find chocolate vendors. You can buy their powdery chocolate by the kilo, with or without almonds. This shop was freshly grinding their chocolate and almonds, selling their half-kilo packages for 25 pesos or just under $2USD.

 

While walking the streets on the edge of the Zocalo, Billy found these Policemen suited up and ready for action. They look straight out of the movie, Robo Cop and you do not want to mess with them!

 

Yet, true to Billy's nature, he charmed the police into granting him permission to pose on their ATV. What chutzpah! And one of the policemen is taking this picture!!!!

We highly recommend Oaxaca City as a destination site. On our criteria list, it favors well on many counts: It boasts good weather, friendly people, affordable prices, savory food, good transportation, inexpensive entertainment options and it's a clean city to boot!

For more stories and photos of Oaxaca, click here

For more stories and photos of Mexico, 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 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.

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