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
One of the main reasons for
Walk, Belize is its proximity to the Maya river ruins of Lamanai.
This Maya complex is set in
pristine tropical forest atop the western bluff of the New River Lagoon.
Visiting this location offers you a unique view into the culture of the Maya
and how they flourished in the bio diversity of this rainforest.
Lamanai is located in north
Tours to take the river
trip to Lamanai are available all over town. We booked ours through our hotel
for $100BZD each which included a $10BZD handling fee. The tour covered the 26
mile boat trip to and from the ruins, came with a knowledgeable guide, and
the tour company provided lunch.
Our tour boat
The morning of the river
tour, we got up leisurely and had a breakfast of bananas, peanut butter with dark local
honey on toast, and coffee or tea which was included in the price of the hotel
room. There was also a selection of pastries and a Belizean staple, meat pies. We waited on a bench outside the hotel for our guide to arrive and, along
with several other tourists, we walked to the boat dock a quick 5 minutes away.
Belize's New River is
smooth as glass
After making several stops
along the river to pick up more passengers, we had
a total of 30 tourists in our boat. We began a two hour up
river journey through
jungle vegetation, seeing wild animals and beautiful birds.
With 2 hours ahead on the boat, I
grabbed a seat under the shade tarp
The river journey is just
as integral to the tour as the ruins themselves. Alligators, bats that blended
into the bark of trees, and exotic birds all made their appearance right on cue.
If you are a birder, this
tour will offer you rare and unusual sightings. We saw large blue herons,
white egrets, black birds with white banded wings and a local favorite, the
"Jesus Christ Bird" which appears to be walking on water. Actually, this bird
walks on the flattened lily pads looking for food, but from any distance, you
could swear it is simply walking on the surface of the water. The Jesus Christ
Birds blend in with the scenery completely until they fly, exposing a brilliant
Billy makes a friend
We had a solid selection of
international travelers on our boat, this woman and her friend were from
We continue boating through
miles of virgin river fauna with huge trees and colorful orchids
Lily pads and jungle
vegetation make for beautiful scenery
Today, this river is called
New River, but in the day of the Maya it bore an indigenous name meaning River
of Strangers or River of Foreigners. The Maya utilized this waterway for trade
and to get from village to village.
A Spider Monkey on the bow
of our boat
We had wild, bipedal
visitors on our boat who enjoyed the gifts of bananas from the lunch bags of
fellow travelers. Our guide made whistling sounds and clicks to attract the
monkeys and they responded quickly to his calls. Jumping and swinging from the
trees, a couple of them boarded our boat
Female Spider Monkey
standing straight up
We were instructed by our
guide not to shout or make any quick moves. While a male and female monkey both
show up, it was the female who was more assertive in her search for food.
Giving her a wide berth, we
did not want to upset her in anyway, thereby avoiding any bites or
scratches from a jungle-wild creature. She was surprisingly tall, over 3 feet,
and very lanky.
Onward to the ruins!
Once we enjoyed the exotic
sites of nature we make haste onto the ruins. We will enjoy our chicken and rice
lunch at the picnic benches and then head on into the jungle to see the old
river city of the Maya.
Sign at the entrance to the
Our Maya guide had been
doing river tours for 14 years and knew the stories of the Maya gods and all the
history of his culture. The name of this site was recorded by the early Spanish
missionaries and was misspelled in their written translation. The actual Maya
name, according to our guide, should have been Lama'anayin or Lam'an'ain which
means submerged insect. As it was recorded by the Spanish and as it is known
today, the name appears as Lamanai which means submerged crocodile.
Our Maya expert seemed a
bit miffed that the Spaniards got the name wrong, and wanted to be sure we knew
He also wanted us to know
that in the 16th century, Catholic missionaries came to convert the Maya
natives, but the Maya already had their own gods and their own ceremonies. They
rebelled from any control by the Spanish and burned the churches to the ground
in one of their regional uprisings. Today there is a Maya stelae standing in
front of what remains of one church and is widely interpreted as Maya
renunciation of any allegiance to Christianity.
Leisurely walk through the
When going on these tours
through the jungle, be sure to bring insect repellent, a hat or visor, good
walking shoes, and - in case of rain - rain gear.
Face of an ancient Maya
Hundreds of ruins are still
unexcavated in the surrounding jungle. Three of the most impressive temples have
This temple shows the
13-foot stone mask of an ancient Maya king.
Another view of the
At the height of the
culture and productivity here in Lamanai, 55,000 inhabitants lived in this city.
Our guide explained how all of these people were able to be sustained with food
and water. The Maya utilized raised bed agriculture with beds 10 feet above the
water level and located just across the river. During rainy season when the
river rose, by having raised beds, all of their agriculture work was not
Drinking water was
collected and stored rainwater.
Another angle of the
Lamanai was occupied
continuously for over 3,000 years and the fact that its location was remote
supported this continuous occupation to at least 1,650 A.D.
A large portion of the
Temple of the Jaguar Masks remains under the grassy earth or is covered in dense
jungle growth. If it were excavated, it would be significantly taller than the
Billy taking a break
from the hike
Lamanai features the second
largest Pre-Classic structure in the Maya world. Unlike other Maya ruins, much
of Lamanai was built in layers where successive generations built upon the
temples of their ancestors instead of destroying them.
From top of the High
Tower looking down
The government protects this site and due to this security, an
abundance of wildlife thrives in the park. We heard the howl (more like a lion's
roar) of howling monkeys off in the distance. We were told to be sure not to
engage in the howling with them (the monkeys interpret the response of howling
as an aggressor) and to be careful when we walked under trees. Sometimes these
monkeys would pee on intruders or throw their feces into the air.
Fortunately, we did not
Akaisha and Billy in
front of the High Temple
There are several layers of
these buildings making the pyramids - both below us and above us into the sky.
You will notice on the
right that part of this pyramid remains covered in earth and jungle. How much is
still below ground?
The first detailed
description of the ruins was made in 1917 by Thomas Gann. Excavations at the
site began in 1974 and continued through 1988. More archeological and
restoration work began in 2004.
Lovely wide view of an
area between a Maya neighborhood and a temple
Our guide took us through
what would have been called "suburbs" or a Maya neighborhood which is where we
are standing to take this photo. We were shown the walls of homes, a stone bed
in a bedroom, and some internal "plumbing" which was a simple open water trough
running through the homes.
A Tarzan vine swing
We're in the jungle, and
thick natural vines are everywhere. While walking back to the boat we found this
vine swing and had to take advantage of the freedom of it!
Boating back home
After enjoying the ruins,
we all board the boat and receive sodas, beers or rum punch which never saw a
rum bottle. All of us are pretty windblown, sun scorched and tired from the
hiking. It was another couple of hours on the boat, but he sped fairly
quickly through the winding river route.
As the evening closed in we
went out for some street food and found a local eatery with delicious burritos
and fresh watermelon juice for a total of $7.50BZD for the two of us.
For more stories and photos
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.
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About Billy & Akaisha