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.
The Bus Trip to El
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
We neither own a
vehicle nor rent one on our travels. We prefer to take public transport and below we will show you
a sample variety that we take on our travels, this journey from
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala to
El Tunco, El Salvador and back to Antigua, Guatemala.
In Panajachel we got up early to begin
our trip to El
Salvador and grabbed a tuk-tuk at the end of the callejon
where our hotel is located. For 5 Quetzales per person (about $0.63USD) we were
taken to the Santiago dock where we boarded our water transport.
A launch on the lake
It was a glorious Lake Atitlan
morning with the sun shining and the lake was smooth as glass. As soon as
we arrived on the dock, we each paid our 25Q (about $3USD) and
boarded the launch. No sooner did we get our seats and the boat took
off directly across the lake.
Half an hour later, we arrive in
Santiago where we walked up steep hills to where we would catch our
next mode of transport, a chicken bus.
Akaisha on a seat that sits 2 people
Our next stop is Esquintla,
Guatemala and it's just
under 2 hours to get there by bus. We each paid our 60Q for this hair-raising
trip (about $7.50USD) and it's a good thing we got on when we did. Passengers
piled on at every stop.
were blaring on the speakers
At first our driver was
going like a bat out of Hades and for some reason liked to speed up on turns and slow
down on the straight-aways. Guatemalan spirituals were blaring and soon we had 3
people to every seat and some passengers were standing in the aisles.
Our hotel in Esquintla
At about noon or so we
arrive in Esquintla which is our first stop on this trip. We leave the bus and
there are helpers everywhere on the street directing us to the taxis who take us to our hotel
- only a few blocks away - for a total oof 20Q for 3 passengers.
Tomorrow is going to be a
long day, so we decide to take it easy here at La Villa Hotel which charges 207Q
for a double (about $26USD) and 150Q ($19USD) for a single.
We grab something from our
packs to eat, and head off to the swimming pool for a dip.
The afternoon passes
pleasantly, a few beers and dinner later at the hotel's restaurant, we call it an early night.
Buses becoming more
crowded and I have a "1-cheeker seat"
The next morning we grab
some more travel food from our packs, and take a 2Q bus to the bus terminal which was
just a gas station where we board another bus. We pay 60Q each to reach the
border of El Salvador from Esquintla. This bus already had passengers from other destinations,
and we were lucky to get what we call "1-cheeker seats" which means the seat is
built for 2 people, but they like to put 3 people on them. This leaves you about
4-6inches to put only one of your cheeks on a seat and you spend your whole time
just hanging on for dear life when the driver takes turns.
This is not comfortable and
it's a toss up between which is more preferable: standing or sitting on a
Clown on board
To make the situation even
more interesting, we have a variety of vendors and entertainers who board our
bus, and, for the most part want a few of your Quetzales for their trouble.
This clown did a comedy
routine and had his daughter shout out English phrases as a wonder of the world.
There were acne cream salesmen who smeared cream all over their faces, and
sterilizing creams they rubbed on their hands to represent an athlete's foot.
Let's not forget the man
who felt compelled to read from his Bible (prounounced BEE-blay) to save our
souls. After an hour sermon where we were told about earthquakes that would
strike, he decided to sing a hymn. He was surprisingly on tune, and gave a
shudder of ecstasy when he finished. He told us he didn't want any money and
thanked us for our time.
Mini-van to the border
After almost 2 hours of bouncing around on a
partial seat, we make it to the location where we must board a mini-van which
will take us directly to the border. This mini-van was included in the 60Q price
we paid previously.
Now one would think that the mini-van would
be comfortable after the exciting bus drive earlier, but this, too, is packed
with passengers. I grab the first seat available which fortunately for me, is up
by the driver. Billy has a seat with no room for his legs due to packs and
packages everywhere, and our traveling companion sits on the motor cover. It's
80+ degrees already and the heat from the motor, alas, cooks him further.
Three wheeled bicycle
takes us from the bus to the border
About a half an hour of
this mini-van ride and we make it to where we must either walk the kilometer to
the border or take one of these pedi-cabs for 5Q a person. These are far more
comfortable than anything we have ridden yet this morning, with at least a
breeze blowing by and having our own seats.
Hot, humid weather greets us in the
This is a comparative joy but it doesn't last
long - and I'm happy for the bicycle driver. He had to push us both plus our
gear the full kilometer for us to get stamped out of Guatemala. We catch another pedicab on the El Salvador side and make the ride for $1USD per person to get
registered into this country. (El Salvador uses US currency.)
A 6 seater mini-van
After our week of beach
bliss in El Tunco, El Salvador, we decide to arrange for a comfortable min-van
ride to Antigua, Guatemala. We pay twice the price ($30USD) per person to have
our 6 seater van arrive 2 hours late.
28 seater mini-van
Less than an hour of travel later, we board a
28 seater mini-van which will take us to Antigua, Guatemala, about 6 hours away.
As we wrote in our 6
Hour Trip that Took 22 Hours we suffered from 3 flat tires that took hours
Packed mini-van at 11 PM
Tired, hot and frustrated, we waited in the
van until the repairs allowed us to limp to a hotel where we spent the night, 3+
people to a room! But without working tires, we could not move forward to
complete our trip.
We awoke at 5 AM the next morning and
bleary-eyed, we crawled through the morning commute traffic in Guatemala City.
At 9 AM we arrive safely in Antigua.
Our friend, Hernan, the taxi driver
Disappointed with our "luxury" travel option
to get us to Antigua, we debate on how to make it from this city the 3 hours it
will take us to get back to Panajachel,
We discuss going back to the
trying our luck with another mini-van service or possibly taking a cab. While
walking through town and mulling over our options, who do we see, but our old
friend Hernan who was our taxi driver when Akaisha
injured her finger!
This seemed like a positive omen because
Hernan is reliable, he certainly has good tires and in the 25 years he has been
driving a taxi, he has never had an accident. We take his card once again, and
the next day we make arrangements to have him pick us up and drive us back to
our little lakeside town.
The Pan American Highway
The morning we decided to leave
Antigua we had a
wonderful breakfast at a neighboring restaurant and go back to our hotel to
finish packing and pay up our bill. We gave Hernan a call to say we were ready
and by the time we opened the door of the hotel to the street, Hernan is pulling
up in his taxi.
What a welcome face to see!
We put all our gear in the trunk of the car
and get in to begin our journey. Hernan knows all the streets and the back roads
to take and in two-and-a-half-hours we were safely back at our hotel in Panajachel.
For more stories about El Salvador,
About the Authors
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.