by Jon and Vonda Look
Last week we had the pleasure of spending several days here in Xcalak, Mexico with Billy and Akaisha Kaderli of Retire Early Lifestyle fame. You may have heard of them. Their adventures have been chronicled on many television programs and numerous stories in prestigious publications have been written about them; and for good reason - their story is fascinating. After many years in the restaurant business, including owning the well regarded Lutherís in Santa Cruz, California (and for Billy several concurrent years in the brokerage business) Billy and Akaisha stepped back and evaluated their lives. Although they did find their busy life rewarding they evaluated whether or not all of their hard work was helping them meet their goals. They decided that being anchored to a business and working 80 hour weeks wasnít for them and they made a plan. Then at the age of 38 they sold their restaurant and retired to the tiny island of Nevis in the West Indies.
But they didnít stay long. Both being perpetual gypsies they started local, exploring in the West Indies then kept expending. They have now been at it for over 20 years. They have traveled scores of countries on six continents; all along making only skeletal plans and surviving on what many would see as a punishing budget. To them there are always low cost but high quality options available if only they can find them and it isnít about the cost but the experience. Making travel comfortable by using lots of money for only a few weeks a year is easy. Finding a way to extend travel by using your wits, skills and instinct is harder but doable. Generally they donít rent vehicles and have become experts at local transportation. They are willing to skimp on what many would see as essentials but are willing to go all out on others. Good food and wine they personally find essential.
It was great listening Billy and Akaishaís stories of where they have been and their experiences along the way. Because they are such pioneers Vonda and I both know we still have a lot to learn. They are both extremely open and personable and their enthusiasm is infectious. It takes a great attitude to ride ďchicken bussesĒ through third world countries but they both just look upon that as part of the adventure. To them it doesnít really seem to matter how they get there, it is the fun along the way that matters. They instinctually know that "Attitude is the difference between an Ordeal and an Adventure".
One of my favorite stories was about their adventures in France. Since they are both inveterate foodies they wanted to peruse Michelin Guide starred restaurants during their six month stay. Not having the funds to both sleep in five star hotels and eat in top rated restaurants they decided what was most important to them and came up with a solution. They would eat in the restaurants and sleep in campgrounds. I donít know what it is like to be savoring a $300 meal knowing you are going to be sleeping in a tent later that evening but they did it many times over. I may have to try that someday.
Since Billy is a certified French chef and has worked before in Five Star restaurants we put him to work more than once demonstrating his skills in the kitchen at Casa del Sol. It is hard combining ingredients that come on a food truck with other local ingredients to make a gourmet meal but he succeeded. Okay, having local lobster tails available didnít hurt but his skill was the most essential ingredient.
We look forward to meeting up with Billy and Akaisha one day soon. In the mean time we once again saw demonstrated it is not necessary to have a ton of possessions to live a life of class and grace. I think that is a good lesson whether you stay in place or strive to see the world.