Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Sometimes it just takes a while.
We have been meaning to get to
for some time, and finally, all the pieces fell comfortably into place.
What a happening city!
If you have never been, it's worth a visit.
Take a look below:
The location of Cartagena, Colombia on
Just in case you might not know where
Cartagena is, here you have a great map of the Caribbean Sea, some
you might recognize,
We got a great deal on COPA Airlines -
round trip for $373USD per person. Flying from the international airport of
Guadalajara, we connected in
arrived in Cartagena.
A closer look at the city itself
For us, one of the attractions of
Cartagena was that there was an
walled city complete with
Colonial buildings, stories of pillaging
pirates, rum, and forts.
New cities, new beaches, and new shiny
restaurants can be found all over the world. What we were looking for were
The fantasy of the past still alive
Welcome to Cartagena!
Photo of Colombian money
Pictured here is 200,000 COP or Colombian
You can check the exchange for today's
rate by clicking on the link above, but while we were in Cartagena, the
Cambio Houses gave us 3,100 COP per $1USD.
The official rate is a little higher, but
you won't get that rate at an ATM or at a Cambio House.
So in this example, 200,000COP equals
Because there were so many zeros with
Colombian Pesos, our quick method to figure out how much we were spending
was to benchmark 10,000COP to be about $3.10USD.
It can be very confusing right off the
bat, when purchasing a small container of yogurt for 2,000COP. What the heck
am I paying for this? Turns out it was a little over 62US cents.
first meal was 71,000COP! OMG! Sounds
like a lot, doesn't it? We were paying $22USD for two small hamburgers,
fries, a beer, a soda and tip.
a local lunch spot right after
that, where the total bill was $8USD for the two of us for soup, a full
plate of fish, pork or chicken, with salad, rice, beans, a drink and this
included the tip.
Better for the daily budget, as we wanted
to spend our money in other ways.
Stacks of Juan Valdez Colombian Coffee
You remember Juan Valdez, don't you?
Juan Valdez was a fictional character
invented in 1958 to promote the coffee of Colombia in the US - "The richest
coffee in the world." As a brand, Juan Valdez and his mule, Conchita, are
used to specifically denote
grown and harvested in Colombia.
These are not beans mixed with
country's beans. It's a premium local product - "todo Colombia."
Here you see stacks of this premium
coffee selling for 17,500 - 18,500COP or about $5.50 - $5.75USD per package.
Akaisha and Billy in front of Juan
Apparently, there are Juan Valdez Coffee
Shops all over the world. You can find them at supermarkets and Juan Valdez
coffee shops in Paraguay,
Chile, Costa Rica,
Spain, Panama, Kuwait, and the
Stacks of various beers in the
A six-pack of Heineken costs 21,000COP or
As you can see, there were various brands
of beer available in this international city.
A hat vendor in the streets of the
walled city of Cartagena
Hat vendors were everywhere!
The sun is fierce at this latitude of 10
degrees North of the Equator, and if you didn't
bring a hat on your trip,
you can purchase one or several from these ubiquitous vendors.
Many of the hats fold up easily and
bounce back into shape, so they are super for travel.Lightweight
and stylish, they will keep the sun off your face and head. A welcome relief from
The University of Cartagena
Walking around town, we stumbled upon the
University of Cartagena.
With armed guards out front, the interior
was peaceful and garden filled. Students were lazing about, on their phones,
chatting with other students, generally relaxing and having fun.
We were told by the guards that we were
only allowed on the first floor. We could not wander anywhere else on
That's good. I was grateful the armed
guards were protecting these students.
Our hotel upstairs lobby
Hotel El Viajero No. 2, was
located centrally within the walled city. Here is a photo of the upstairs
The staff were friendly and the hotel was
clean. We would recommend it for both the price and the location.
Al Quimico rooftop bar
One of the things we really enjoy doing
in these international cities is to go to their wide variety of
Quimico (meaning The Chemist) has 5
floors on which to enjoy their menu and designer drinks. This, of course, is
the top floor, the rooftop.
An engaging and colorful tropical mural
on the left, at the right one can view out into the city street. We ordered
a couple of appetizer plates to share, and chatted with the friendly couples
on both sides of us.
The air was sultry, but the ocean breeze
made it very comfortable.
A panoramic view of
This place was rockin' and as you can
see, it was just packed.
This is a favored place for locals and
tourists to watch the sun set. It is called a Bar and Grill, but we saw no
food delivered to any table other than chips in a bowl and we were not given
a food menu, even after we asked for one.
We ended up eating in a local family-run
restaurant and shared a meal for $10USD.
Still, the place was jammin' and sat
hundreds of people. The music was wide, varied and good.
We wanted to return another evening, but
got caught up in the myriad of rooftop bars available around the city.
Definitely next visit!
The view at the left is of the modern
beach area on the isthmus, Boca Grande.
de Bono, Jugos y Algo Mas
Just down the street from our hotel was
this lively coffee shop and bakery. It was busy day and night, with fresh
baked pastries, coffees, and fresh juices.
We tried several of their pastries, all
done in phyllo dough, that were flaky and served warm. Our favorite was the
pan con chocolate ($1USD) which we would split. Billy would have his
cappuccino and I'd have a fresh mango smoothie.
Customers and servers were all friendly
here, and we met several locals and international tourists coming for their
morning caffeine fix.
The wall around Historico Centro
Cartagena and the Caribbean sea
Cartagena was founded by the Spanish in
1533 when Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia took over an abandoned
Amerindian Caribbean village known as Calamari.
The first Spanish settlers were sailors
who had arrived from Cartagena, Spain to start a new life; they established
the town as Cartagena de Indias in reference to its Spanish counterpart.
Eventually, treasures were discovered in
the tombs of the Sinus Amerindian tribe, who buried their dead with all
their worldly riches. And as treasures and pirates go together, a wall was
necessary to protect the town from the many invasions by sea.
In the 1600s the King of Spain ordered
city of Cartagena to become a hub for the sale of enslaved humans,
adding further to the city’s reputation for riches. In fact, Cartagena
became the largest slave-trading seaport in the known world at that time.
After a particularly bloody battle between England and Spain in the
mid -1700s the city became fortified further, improving and rebuilding its
defenses to became the most protected port in South America.
Here you see the flag of Cartagena flying
View from Hotel Movich towards Boca
Another rooftop bar. This time at
Hotel Movich, which boasted an avant-garde menu which we couldn't wait to try.
We got there early enough for a seat and
the place was filling up! It seemed that all the international "beautiful
people" were here, the DJ had
the atmosphere electrified, and
was some of the best we had in our whole stay in Cartagena.
This view is
from inside the walled city
towards the ultra modern beach area of Boca Grande.
The Russian Bar, or
We were told by a friend not to miss
having a drink in this bar.
We had to agree that having a Russian Bar
in the middle of a Colonial Caribbean town was a stretch, but there it is!
The items collected and displayed inside
this two room bar were a bit kitschy, and the wait personnel were dressed as
comrades from Russia. Mannequins were outfitted in Russian fatigues and gear
with gas masks. The submarine room was a little nerve wracking for someone
like me who fears drowning. I found myself nervous and gasping for air as an
autonomic response to these surroundings.
It wasn't until I had a few sips of rum
that I relaxed. Then I had to laugh at myself for my silliness. But still...
I wasn't going to sit in the submarine room for a drink! No way!
La Jugada rooftop bar
This bar had several floors - five or
six, I believe, and we walked the stairs up to the top.
To the left of this photo is
Al Quimica rooftop bar, one that we tested out a few nights previously.
We ordered Ceviche Tropical to share
which was delicious, and after our drink we went out to
wander around town.
Pepita Burger Bar
Just down from
our hotel is this Burger
this place had the best angus beef burgers and French fries we have had in a
while. It was "city pricing" but worth it. So much so, we went back again
just to get that classic burger taste!
The Star Restaurant
our hotel was centrally located,
this open air restaurant was just up the street.
You can see the menu on the white board
in the right of this photo. Full meals with soup, main course, salad, beans,
coconut rice, fried plaintain and a drink ran from 12,000COP to 30,000COP or
from $4USD to just over $9USD per person.
Because it was convenient,
just-the-right-price for daily lunches, served delicious food and the staff
were friendly, we ate most of our lunches here.
Tables were community seating, so if the
place was full (which was every day) we would join someone else's table, or
they would join ours. It was a great way to meet locals and other
This place was also a bar in the
evenings, and had beers and rum at reasonable pricing.
Mila Vargas Postres
This pastry shop is well known in
Cartagena, serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner, specialty coffees and unique
With decor that is a throw-back to an
earlier time, mixed in with a bit of fantasy, Mila's is a busy place.
If you look closer into the dessert case,
you'll see decorated flan cakes, dark chocolate brownies, even decorated
dollops wrapped in edible gold.
Mila's is worth a visit - Take a pastry
home for later!
Note the hat this waitperson is wearing.
This bonnet style hat is done in "pastry" colors to match the shop decor.
Out on the streets and in stores, you will find these same hats and hair
bands in WILD tropical colors being sold. They are great to wrap up your
hair, protecting it from the sun, and to keep your hair off your neck in
this soggy equatorial climate.
From the top of Hotel Torre del Reloj
looking down at the Plaza de los Coches
From yet another rooftop bar and
restaurant, you are looking down into one of the most historical places in
The Clock Tower is the main entrance into
the Walled City of Cartagena. The triangular plaza below, now called Plaza
de los Coches, was designated centuries ago as a place to sell enslaved
The sea comes very close to the wall and clock tower like a canal.
You can see it here in the photo if you look closely, along with a double-masted
ship at the very right. The tours on the ship will give you an idea of how
these humans were brought from Africa to Colombia. We did not take the tour,
but I was surprised at how small this ship was, traveling the Atlantic Ocean
all those years ago.
is here at this famous port that the merchant ships would bring goods and humans to sell. Where the sea is to where the clock tower is, is just a stone's
Just outside this photo to the right is
another plaza - Plaza de Aduanas - where goods were registered and taxed,
either for import or export.
Billy and Akaisha at Plaza Santa
Domingo near Plaza de los Coches
You will find open air bars, restaurants
and shops all over Cartagena. The air is steamy, but with the sea breeze it's
quite comfortable. A great past time is to sit outside and sip on a cocktail
or have some food while watching the activity all around.
Since this plaza is so close to the Plaza
de los Coches, we saw horse drawn carriages filled with passengers - one
after the other - turn the corner here. Clip-clopping on the cobblestones,
these well-groomed horses and the carriages they pulled were a glimpse into
This plaza is also a tourist spot due to Botero's
famous Curvy Lady of Cartagena sculpture here. Everyone wanted their photo taken with
this oversized nude woman - usually with their hand on her bulky behind -
representative of Botero's style.
Painting of Michael Jackson smoking a
Walking around in the heat of the day, a
young woman speaking perfect English coached us into this air conditioned
bar, restaurant, and tobacconist shop.
Once inside, it was hard to miss the
artwork on the walls, huge pictures of famous people that we all recognize,
smoking a Cuban or Colombian cigar.
We wanted to return another time for a
meal or a rum, but we were quickly running out of days to spend in Cartagena.
All over Cartagena are these beautiful
women in colorful native dress. From Palenque, about an hour's drive from
Cartagena, these Palenqueras make a living by selling fresh cut fruit grown
in the jungle, and charging for permission to take their photos.
We stumbled upon this woman and her
friend who were very engaging and so photogenic.
San Basilio de Palenque
was created in 1713 and declared one of the first independent communities in
The Americas. When you peer into the faces of these gorgeous women, you are
viewing centuries of strong human spirit surviving and thriving in Colombia.
For more information on
Colombia, with photos, stories and videos,
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.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha