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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 Ignacio, Belize

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Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

 Our plans were to go into Guatemala heading south through Belize. So we left Orange Walk and the Maya River Ruins of Lamanai stopping at San Ignacio, nine miles from the country's border.

San Ignacio in central, western Belize

We arose at 5 a.m. to get ourselves together to catch the earliest bus available from Orange Walk to Belize City. We knew it was going to be a long day on the bus to San Ignacio, our last Belizean town before arriving in Guatemala. So we packed up our gear and grabbed some breakfast of peanut butter and local honey from downstairs in our hotel. Then we said our goodbyes and thank you's and walked to the bus station only 10 minutes away.

Even at 7:30 a.m. it was already hot and upon arriving at the bus station we waited for the 8:00 bus to arrive.

Busy, busy, busy!

We moved our biggest backpacks to the rear of the bus and put our digital gear on our laps.

It was $5BZD each for the trip from Orange Walk to Belize City.

 

Sand is everywhere and lines the roads even on the western side of Belize

About 2 hours later, we arrived in Belize City and changed buses. Many seats were already taken so we placed our gear at the emergency exit in the back and sat a row or two up from there.

It wasn't long before our bus was completely filled, with many passengers boarding at Belmopan, the capital.

 

It's a simple life in Belize

We made it to San Ignacio without incident and our bus dropped us off at the Market Square. Asking around to find out where Hudson Street was, the taxi drivers were truthful enough to tell us we could walk to there from where we were.

The honesty was refreshing!

 

Sometimes there are sidewalks in front of buildings, but not every one of them

The city of San Ignacio serves as the capital of Cayo District in western Belize. Mahogany and chicle production began during British rule and these industries attracted diverse people from all the surrounding areas.

 

Public transport to go long distances

Today, the population is still very diverse with Mestizo, Kriol, Lebanese, Chinese and a sizable Mennonite community just outside the city.

The area around San Ignacio is one of the most popular parts of Belize for tourism. There are many Maya ruins nearby including Caracol, El Pilar and Tikal in Guatemala.

 

Hudson Street, one of the main streets in San Ignacio

Our hotel was simple, but they served continental breakfast and fresh coffee included in the price of the room. Service was incredible here and surprisingly, we had a great wifi connection. There was a refrigerator at the back of the hall, and if we wanted to keep anything in it, we just needed to put our names on the bag.

Rosa, the owner, had trained her children well, and each one introduced themselves to us and let us know that if we wanted anything, anything at all, just let them know.

There was also free, purified drinking water available, and Rosa made sure ours was cold! In the tropics, this is a priceless addition.

 

British influence is noticeable in the architecture

We got along with Rosa and her family so well that they invited us to visit their finca, the family's small ranch. It's another early rise at 5 a.m. the next morning, and after eating chunks of fresh sweet coconut, we jump into the family Toyota and head to the ranch.

Miscellaneous stops are made along the way dropping off siblings, neighbors and cousins at the school bus stop. Finally we reach Rancho Verde.

Lester, who has been riding in the back of the truck bed, jumps out and opens up the gate to the Ranch. A horse is grazing just outside. 

 

The local Chinese restaurant

After a short, bumpy ride on a dirt road, we are met by a male and female turkey who were both strutting and gobbling about. There are dogs, cats, baby calves, chickens, a pheasant, a gaggle of geese and pigs all wandering around, poking and pecking for food.

After we get the low-down on all the animal personalities and grab a couple of fresh coconuts for later on today, we head on back to the hotel.

After few more miscellaneous stops here and there, I finally found out what we were stopping for.

 

A high-end corner with well kept road and building

Unbeknownst to me, some "trading" has been going on at the same time as our visit to and from the Rancho. A neighbor who owns a bakery gives Rosa some bread for the guests in her hotel to use at breakfast. A man who owns a window shop has given Rosa a window for one of the hotel rooms which she is upgrading. Meanwhile, huge bags of corn on the cob have been placed in the back of the pickup truck which we dropped off at the baker's home because he owns chickens and Rosa provides the corn in exchange for the freshly baked bread she receives.

The baker's son provides some plumbing for the hotel. All of these transactions are done in trade.

Rosa and I get into a discussion about bartering and how much it is a part of Belizean society and culture. No one has a lot of money, but everyone produces something so trade is integral into the fabric of getting things done.

Back to the hotel we go to have breakfast and some of that same fresh bread for toast with peanut butter, strawberry jam, bananas and freshly brewed coffee.

 

Downtown businesses with their sandwich board advertising

After our exciting morning out at the finca, we walk around town to get some local flavor.

 

Local ice cream shop

One of our favorite things is to find a neighborhood ice cream shop which offers fresh, hand made ice cream. This shop was a popular place in town especially after school or in the early evenings. Rum raisin is a preferred flavor, I imagine using the local rum!

 

Typical Belizean pastel colored building

We knew we would be leaving to go to Flores, Guatemala soon and had to do a border crossing out of Belize. Asking at the hotel, Billy finds the best price for a combi to take us the 9 miles to the border.

Billy arranges for the van to pick us up the next morning and we pay $5BZD each person to get to Benque, the Belizean city at the border.

 

Many Belizean houses are on stilts

Lots of times when we go walking around neighborhoods, we will see older folk looking through doors, windows or from balconies to the outside world. We always try to catch their eye and say hello. Usually they return our wave with a broad smile.

 

San Ignacio Pharmacy

We don't always stay long in these tiny towns on our way to the next location. But our short stay in San Ignacio brought us some memorable interactions with local culture.

 

Joy offers pigtail and plantain

Local entrepreneurs provide a service and keep the economy moving.

Crossing the border would cost us $30BZD each for the exit stamp and $7.50BZD each for the exit fee, totaling $75BZD for the two of us. Be sure you bring enough BZD for this so you don't lose on the money exchange.

When we arrived at the Guatemalan border there are several ways to get on into the interior of the country. Bypass the pushy van drivers who tried to charge us $60USD to take us to Flores. They sound reasonable and their vans look clean. It is very tempting to just pay that amount and be done with it.

However, we walked a little bit onward, found a taxi who took us to the bus station and with both the taxi fee and bus fee, we paid less than $10USD for the both of us to get to Flores, saving $50USD.

For more stories and photos of Belize click here

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 Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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