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.
CECAP on Lake Atitlan
Santa Cruz de La Laguna,
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Living at Lake Atitlan has
some curious features in regards to keeping tabs on friendships. There are a
dozen towns dotted along the lake, and it's very common to have friends living
in several of them. Sure, Panajachel is the most updated, modern and touristy of
the towns, which is exactly the reasons why some prefer to live elsewhere on
this gorgeous lake.
I was invited to meet for
lunch with a couple of women friends who live in Santa Cruz, a 15 Quetzal boat ride
(about $2USD) from Pana.
Approaching San Pedro dock
Since we were to meet at the Santa Cruz dock
at around noonish, I leisurely strolled from our hotel in Pana to the San Pedro
dock, about a 15 minute walk. I wanted to take the 11 o'clock boat.
A man on a bicycle spoke to me at the top of
the street and asked where I was going. I replied "Santa Cruz." Off he sped on
his bike, and by the time I reached the dock, helpers and boat captains were all
prepared to help me board the right lancha to get me to my destination. Every
one of them knew where I was going!
"How much to Santa Cruz?" I asked in Spanish
knowing full well what the price was.
"Fifteen Quetzales to get to Santa Cruz, 20
with a tip!" the boatsman replied.
We laughed together because no one gives the
Boarding the boat, the waves of the lake were
a bit dramatic and the distance from the dock to the landing step inside the boat rose and
fell 2-and-a-half-feet with every wobbly wave.
How was I going to get in without falling on
A young Maya man stood up and took my hand,
which is all the steadying that I needed and I entered the boat, thanking him
A sign advertising the
Women Weavers Co-op
After 20 minutes or so of motoring in the
direction of Santa Cruz and dropping passengers off onto private docks along the
way, I arrive at about 11:30 am at Santa Cruz dock. My plan was to wait under
the covering at the edge of the dock for my friend to arrive.
Meanwhile, this particular lancha picked up a
few more passengers and went on its way to San Marcos, San Juan and San Pedro.
Santa Cruz is a traditional Maya village
located on the steep mountainside of Lake Atitlan nearly 325 vertical feet above
the lake's surface. The village has no roads, telephone system or commercial
center and - uniquely - is accessible only by boat or footpath.
While waiting, I watched construction men
lift up 20 or more concrete bags into a truck and saw children eating
paletas which are like popsicles while their mothers rearranged the items in
the bag they carried on top of their heads.
It wasn't long before one
of my girlfriends arrived. We flagged down a tuk-tuk to take us up the very
steep hill into the town of Santa Cruz.
"CECAP!" she says to the
driver and off we go.
CECAP reception area
Santa Cruz is home to the Centro de
Capacitacion, or Center for Training trade school, commonly referred to as
CECAP. Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation, started in 1998, and private donations
fund the school and the school officially opened in the fall of 2010 to the
residents of Santa Cruz.
The school features a computer lab, craftsman
workshop, culinary area and numerous classrooms. The school aims to educate and
empower the residents of the village.
The sewing classroom of CECAP
This class is being taught how to use a
sewing machine and also how to weave beads into bracelets, earrings, ornaments
and other items that are sold in Guatemala and also internationally.
Amigos is the parent company which overseas
all the other trade schools located here at CECAP.
The population of Santa Cruz is roughly 6,500
people and Amigos has chosen to focus on the rural communities that make up this
town. They are directing a generational change in the villages and have been
watching what can happen when a generation becomes educated for the first time.
Samples of items made here in the school
which are for sale
Bags, aprons, shirts and jewelry that you see
in this photo are examples of what the school produces and sells nationally and
internationally. At this time, the sewing school is self-sustaining.
There is a general lack of accessibility to
the outside world that has limited the progress of this community in an obvious
way. The villagers must travel by boat to shop or to obtain resources of any
kind. Some of the more remote small villages of Santa Cruz located in the
mountains are often inaccessible even by foot during the rainy season when
landslides are common and the road is impassable.
Cafe Sabor Cruceno
CECAP began in 2007 as a vision of a place
where people of all ages could come to learn new skills that could lead to
meaningful work and a more prosperous community. In 2010, the center opened its
doors with programs for students and adults.
The culinary arts program trains young people
for successful employment in the tourist business. The Cafe Sabor Cruceno is a
graduate-run cafe and has been hugely successful.
This is where we ladies were going to have
Two graduates of the culinary program
After meeting up with our other lady friend
who was teaching English to students in one of the classrooms, we walked into
Cafe Sabor Cruceno. The menu was a full page and offered a good variety of items
including beverages of various sorts.
Service was attentive and we placed our
Enchiladas with black beans and various
Beautifully presented, meals were also quite
tasty. The graduates did a good job with the knowledge they gained going through
training at CECAP.
Tostadas with salad and fresh morning
Piled high with a bounteous salad, these
three tostadas were scrumptious!
A specialty soup of
With a broth made up of
unusual spices and flavors, this favored local soup had a scoop of rice in the center and
chicken and vegetables on the side. Delicious!
Million dollar view from
Cafe Sabor Cruceno
What a view! One whole side
of the restaurant is windows opening out to this spectacular view of Lake
More view from Cafe Sabor Cruceno
Here you can see more of the town of Santa Cruz
below along with the dock in the center.
The Computer Center was made possible by
these generous donors
There are a dozen or so computers in the
school that were donated by both the Taylor and Hutchens families, and also by
Jeanne Mendez who used to work at Microsoft. This training in computers will
change the lives of those who attend.
There were no computer
classes when I came to visit this day. The classroom itself is about twice the
size of what I show in the photo.
The woodworking shop was
bustling! Young girls and boys both learn to use the machinery and make a
variety of saleable items such as wooden toys, wooden buses and cars for young children
and also cutting boards for kitchens.
Santa Cruz de La Laguna dock
After visiting the school
and having a terrific lunch, we walked down the very, VERY steep hill to the
dock area where I caught the next lancha to Pana. My wait time was about 5
This time the ride back to
my home town was a bit rough with the lancha bouncing on the waves all the way
back! Lake Atitlan is no pond! At its depth it is 1,100 feet deep.
Arriving at Panajachel dock, the boat jumped up and down and the dock was
not easily accessible. I stood on the boat's landing step and thrust my flailing
arm out hoping someone would assist me in getting out of the boat. Once again, a
Maya man grabbed my arm and allowed me to grasp him as my security and I was
able to get out of the boat.
What a GREAT day!
Lunch at CECAP and I was able to see the school and visit with my friends. Total cost for
the two lanchas, the tuk-tuk ride and lunch was $11USD!
For more stories
and photos of Guatemala, click
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
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.