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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.

Chapala Massage: A Touching Volunteer Experience

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli 

After spending so much time in Thailand enjoying the art of Thai massage there, I was fortunate to take private lessons to learn this ancient form of 'Lazy Man's Yoga'. This style of massage has been handed down over 2000 years from the time of the Buddha and focuses on the rebalancing of one's internal energies. Stretching the muscles in various yogic postures, it relieves built up tension and toxins that are then processed by the body, bringing about a stronger immune system and generalized health.

Billy and I had the fanciful idea of teaching a shorter version of this massage skill to some of the local Mexicans on our recent trip to Chapala. It was our hope that the Mexicans who learned this new skill could supplement their household income. This goal has been reached with solid success!

To begin, we obtained permission from the managers of the Chapala Tennis Courts so we could utilize their pro shop for teaching classes. Signs were posted and word was spread through the 'taco telegraph' that free massage lessons were being offered 2 days a week in the Cristiania Park!


In the beginning there were 17 students from all around Chapala, including some of the mountain neighborhoods. Because there were so many, we all pinned our names to our Tee shirts making it easier and more friendly to communicate. Classes were two hours, two days a week. Here, Martha is supervising the massage method of Gaby and Virginia.

I am helping Carlos and Mary with an intricate finger move.

What I am teaching are two abbreviated versions of Thai massage: 1.) half an hour of head/shoulder/arm massage and 2.) half an hour of leg/foot massage. For ease, both can be done while the client is sitting in a chair. Notice all the study notes on the table above.



Much tension is held in the jaw area of our bodies. When the jaw is tense, it can lead to headaches, or neck and upper back pain. Here I demonstrate on Gaby one of the many massage techniques on relaxing the jaw.


We use our hands continuously during the day, often taking them for granted. Massaging the muscles in the palm of our hands releases tension and stimulates many acupressure points. Here I present using the thumbs in an alternating rhythm on the face of the palm.





This is a closer look of that same move. There are 5 chi energy lines on the top of the hand, and many acupressure points on both sides. Massaging the hands releases built up tension and opens the channels for the Chi to be 'snapped' out of the fingers a few massage moves later.


These are a couple of reference pages made for the students to familiarize themselves with the acupressure points of both the hand and on the face. In general, learning Thai massage was a huge mental leap for the local Mexicans. While in Thailand massage is an every day occurrence, with shops and chairs for massage everywhere. However, in Mexico, this is still quite new.


Students were directed to practice on other students. In this way, technique is perfected and feedback is encouraged. The massage move you see here in the photo is just the beginning of the massage sequence! There are dozens of different moves to learn for a 30 minute massage.

Rolling the forearms between the neck and shoulders utilizes the strength of the forearm bone on the tense muscles around the neck. The elbows of the masseuse are used also to penetrate into tightened muscles.


Here you see Virginia holding Carlos' head steady with her left hand while she utilizes the thumb on her right hand to open the meridian lines in a horseshoe pattern around the ear. This massage move is a good one to relieve headaches.


After the arm and hand is massaged, the released energy is 'snapped' out of the fingers as one of the final moves. This leaves the arm and hand very relaxed and encourages blood circulation.

Gaby is practicing this method on Martha who is being sure it is done correctly.


Fun is mixed in with the learning every chance we get.

Since the classes were free, several times students would bring fresh fruit from their gardens or other edible gifts for the teachers as payment. This was always a delightful surprise and showed how grateful the students were for this opportunity to learn something new.


Contacting the town's carpenter to make some massage tools was a subplot in this whole story. Before the beginning of the classes, I went to the carpenter's shop to tell him what I needed - more than a dozen simple massage tools made from wood.

It took several visits just to find him in his shop. After I found him, I discovered that he hadn't paid his electric bill, so the city shut down his power!  Back and forth again at least another five times to finally find out that the bill had been paid, and 'manana' the city would turn his power on.


Many times I would arrive in the carpenter's workplace to find that he wasn't there, or the city had yet to turn on his power. It was always the promise of 'tomorrow, tomorrow' as that is a very common practice in Mexico.

After about a dozen visits, the power eventually was turned on, and by this time, the carpenter was backlogged with work. My few massage tools took a back seat for a few more weeks!  !Que lastima!

After being patient and charming for the month that I had been waiting and getting nowhere, I finally had to 'get stern' with my woodworking friend. Teachers are well respected in Mexico, so I was forced to use this well known fact and tell him with emphasis: !Soy una maestra. Necesito estas cosas por mis estudiantes!


Presto!  I had my tools the next day.

Here my carpenter friend allows me to take his photo in his 'rustic' shop. He looks a bit chastised, but he is really a delightful fellow.


All that waiting, all those trips, all that hassle for a few pieces of carved wood.

Above on the left are the tools used for foot massage. The star shaped tools on the right are used by the masseuse to relax their hands after giving massages. It is constructed in such a way as to press into the acupressure points of the hand when squeezed.


The number of students eventually dwindled down to a loyal core group who showed up without fail twice each week for two hours.

Here you see Mary giving Socorro a foot massage with oil. On the table you will see notebooks, massage tools, talcum powder and a clock to time their massages. The students are getting the hang of it now, and are gaining confidence.

Because the foot massage is done with oil, a towel is placed on the masseur's lap. To prevent oil from getting on their clothes, I recommended wearing an apron.

Gaby is opening the 5 meridian lines on the top of Tere's foot. There are 5 more meridians on the sole as well.





Virginia is working the 3 chi lines on each side of the calf.

Everyone has their own massage bag with their own utensils and the table is full!


Aaahhh yes! The massage tool!

On the sole of the foot are many pressure points and here Gaby is utilizing the tool to press firmly into these points to stimulate inner organs of the body. This slender tool is also drawn in between the toes, and pressed into the top of each toe, all to encourage circulation and to energize the pressure points.


Here I am demonstrating the full 30 minute foot and leg massage, 15 minutes per leg. Carlos and Gaby are taking notes.

Socorro is enjoying the attention!


At the end of the course, each student had to pass a test - giving a massage to 3 different people, each with a rating sheet to rank their performance.

Not everyone passed the test, but those who did received a 'Certificate of Participation' for attending the 2 month long course. A few of the certificates are above.

To illustrate the individual successes in taking this massage course, several of the students told me how they have exchanged massage in return for other skills that their neighbors had, and they are charging for their massages in their respective neighborhoods for extra cash.

At Christmas time, Virginia, to the delight of her family, offered massages to them in lieu of a purchased present. This saved her from spending money she didn't have, her family is thrilled for the massages, and Virginia keeps her massage skills fresh.


Here I am standing with my good friend Martha McIntire, a previous massage student of mine. Martha helped considerably with the translation in the classes so that the ideas and philosophy of Thai massage were gotten across clearly. This was a large undertaking and without her help, it would have been far more difficult for me. I can't thank her enough.

Since she had already taken the course herself, she was able to give individual attention to other students, and she had a great eye for correct technique.

We are both wearing shell necklaces, a final gift from the students to thank us for our volunteer time. What a sweet, rewarding project this was!

For more about Chapala, click here

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, 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 bookstore or on

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