Lili on the Loose: On Life and Getting Lost 

Tips for Swimming with Sea Turtles

A turtle in Belize

A turtle in Belize

Sea Turtles are a majestic sight to see when snorkeling. I’ve had the opportunity to see and swim with turtles in Maui, HI, St. John USVI, and the Belize Barrier Reef. But too often swimmers or snorkelers get too close to Sea Turtles and inadvertently end up harassing them. Here are some tips when swimming with Sea Turtles to make sure the experience is good to everyone.

Turtle Town Maui

Turtle Town Maui

First it is important to note in many areas turtles are protected by law. You should not touch, attempt to feed, or attempt to “ride” the turtles. For example in Hawaii, if you are caught you can face up to $100,000 in fines and a trip to prison.

Turtle at Black Rock Maui.

Turtle at Black Rock Maui.

Turtles have signs to indicate when they are stressed or feeling harassed:

  • They may “yawn” by opening up their beak over and over again. They are not sleepy, this is a sign that they are irritated and you need to leave them alone. Should you ignore this warning the turtle may attempt to ram and bite you with its beak.
  • The turtle may also use its flipper to swat at you, and you should immediately move away and give them more space.
  • Turtles may also evasively swim away from you, do not follow them. A stressed turtle may avoid coming up for air, and so can die from lack of oxygen.

So make sure to give turtles space and not touch or chase them. Plus you’ll experience them better when they aren’t stressed. It is amazing to just float along and see a turtle eat, come up for air, or just glide along like they are flying.

Old turtle in Belize

Old turtle in Belize, eating sea grass.

You also should educate on turtle nesting grounds and make sure you do not disturb them. At night, it is important not to have lights of flash photography, as this confuses mothers and hatchlings on the direction of the moon. So make sure to wear dark clothes, and have a red-filtered night light. You should also go with a guide so you don’t stomp on the eggs. You also don’t want to surprise or anger females or hatchlings so give them a lot of space. No one should ever handle sea turtle eggs.

Learn more about the conservation effort.
Learn about the different types of Sea Turtles.
And read some Sea Turtle Facts!

Recipe: Apple Chips

One of my favorite healthy snacks to make are Apple Chips. They are so simple, all you really need is parchment paper, apples, cinnamon, and a mandolin slicer.


Cut the apples as thing as you can get without them coming out like paper. (Thicker slices will be less crunchy.) I use a mandolin slicer since it makes this step so quick!

Next, put the apples down on parchment paper on a baking sheet. You have the option of sprinkling cinnamon to give it another layer of flavor.

Next preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and place the sheet in. You’ll cook it for 1 hour, then flip each slice and cook for another hour until they crisp up.

They will keep up to a week and taste delicious!


For more detailed instructions, check out this recipe.

Souvenir Saturday: Sand Castles in the Sky

My family use to live in San Diego when I was very little. Every trip that either they or I have gone, I have received a Sand Castle as a gift. Here is one of my favorites, and it is one of the larger castles. They are made from real sand!


Souvenir Saturday

Souvenir Saturday is an every-other week series on the items that represent travel memories.

Snack Bento Box

Japanese Bento Box with flower motif.

Japanese Bento Box with flower motif.

I love how cute Japanese Bento Boxes are! I always have grand plans to make elaborate and cute lunches, but sometimes just have to settle for snacks. This box I have the bottom section of crackers, almonds, and different types of cheeses. The top section is two types of hummus (one spicy black bean, the other garlic) with different types of peas (snap & snow) and carrots. It was a nice snack box and lasted me a few days at work.


Local Escapes: The Old Mine Erie, CO


I am not a fan of beer. This is a critical issue in Colorado where we have an abundance of craft breweries. So when I found a cidery/brewery combo I was overjoyed!


I checked it out last weekend, and it was so great! The decor is a combination of relaxed & natural with beautiful wood tables and exposed brick. The tables are great for conversations and could accommodate my large group.

The "Gin N Juice" cider.

The “Gin N Juice” cider.

I tried two ciders that were on tap. The first was a small “Gin N Juice” which was a very nice tart cider. I really enjoyed it! I then tried their traditional “Handlebar” Cider, which was also good, but a little less tart/sweet than I prefer. But I still liked it a lot!

I will definitely be returning soon to try out the others!

If you go:

The Old Mine
500 Briggs St
Erie, Colorado

Travel Missteps: No Cocktails at the Pub

Ireland was the first trip abroad where I was able to and wanted to drink. Thankfully Ireland has no shortages of drinking establishments, and none are so iconic as the traditional Irish pub. So on our first night my family and I headed out to the Temple Bar district of Dublin to get a drink.

At first we tried a pint of Guinness for its 250th anniversary, but no one in our family really liked it. I wasn’t surprised as I actually hate most beer. But we did greatly enjoy the traditional pub atmosphere and we learned a lot of drinking songs!

A bar that taught Irish drinking songs in Temple Bar district of Dublin

A bar that taught Irish drinking songs in Temple Bar district of Dublin

At the next bar I tried to branch out to mixed drinks and cocktails. This wasn’t met with much success. Partly because I was young and didn’t know many types of mixed drinks. So when I asked for a “Cosmo”, the bewildered waitress had no idea what I wanted. I couldn’t remember everything that went into it, and so I asked for Cranberry Juice and Vodka. They literally brought me a individual bottle serving of Cranberry juice AND a full tall glass of vodka. I had to take gulps from one to the other while the waitress asked if she had gotten the order wrong.

After asking for different cocktails at other bars and also being met with some rather confused looks I ended up settling for Smirnoff Ice, as that was the only non-beer alternative they offered. (Years later I groan and wish I had asked for hard cider!)

Temple Bar Pub in Temple Bar district of Dublin. It was so packed!

Temple Bar Pub in Temple Bar district of Dublin. It was so packed!

My dad on the other hand wasn’t met with confused looks, he was outright yelled at! He asked for a Whisky Sour with Irish Jameson Whisky…and the bartender looked right at him and yelled. “Sir, We’re Irish, we don’t defile our Whisky. We drink it strait up or not at all, so what are you going to order!” Dad stuck with Guinness for the remainder of the trip after that!

Travel Missteps

Travel Missteps is an every-other week series on how sometimes part of the journey is making mistakes and getting lost.

Making Chocolate in Antigua, Guatemala

One of my favorite activities in Guatemala was making chocolate! On my first day in Antigua, I visited the Choco Museo and did their “Bean to Bar” Workshop. This is a 2 hour class that is offered at various times throughout the day and is a lot of fun for all ages!

A traditional Mayan grinding stand, with actual chocolate being ground into Cacao Liquor.

A traditional Mayan grinding stand, with actual chocolate being ground into Cacao Liquor.

They first walk you through the museum. While the museum is free, I got a lot more out of it and the hands on displays while the teacher explained things in more detail. After learning about the history of chocolate and how it is harvested you will jump into working with cacao beans.

Cacao Beans being roasted.

Cacao Beans being roasted.

You’ll get a chance to roast and then winnow the beans to separate the “nibs” from the shells. After this step you’ll learn to make cacao tea. This is done using she shells, hot water, and some cacao nibs. I surprisingly really liked this drink! Enough so that I was sad I didn’t buy some cacao beans from the gift shop! But thank goodness for the “raw foods” movement. You can now buy cacao beans online to make your own cacao tea!

Cacao Nibs in the foreground, in the background the Cacao Shells.

Cacao Nibs in the foreground, in the background the Cacao Shells.

Next you will be given the opportunity to grind the cacao nibs. If you grind hard enough you’ll see it start to turn slick. This is the cacao “liquor”. If you took this mixture into a press you could separate the bean into chocolate powder and chocolate butter. At this time in the workshop you’ll learn how to make Kakawa, or Mayan Hot Chocolate. This is a bit more spicy drink than most people are use to. While I didn’t like the taste as much, it was fun to see the teacher mix by pouring from one container to another, from greater heights each time!

Mayan Hot Chocolate!

Mayan Hot Chocolate!

Afterwards you’ll be given a little history lesson on how chocolate came to Europe before learning how to make European Hot Chocolate. This is more milky than I expected but still nice! I did enjoy the traditional song they taught us as we frothed the hot chocolate to get the right consistency.

Early European Hot Chocolate

Early European Hot Chocolate

Finally you are given a technical demo on refining and tempering chocolate by one of the chocolate masters at the museum. And then you get to make your own chocolate bars! This is fun, as you can make dark or milk chocolate, add in whatever spices, toppings, and other ingredients that you wish. I chose to make a bunch of smaller bite sized chocolates in various molds.

Making your own chocolate candies!

Making your own chocolate candies!

But one thing to keep in mind is that the chocolate bars needs time to set, at least 45 minutes. This is the end of the class, so I recommend going out for lunch or a nice walk to explore the city more before you go back to retrieve your creations.

As I said this was one of my favorite activities that I did in Guatemala. It was hands on and informative but beyond that the teacher was amazing and we all had great fun!

If you go:
It is located 1.5 blocks off the central square, it’s hard to miss!
The price for the Beans to Bar workshop is 180 Q or about $24 USD.
Times of the class vary, check the schedule before you go.
Workshops are in English and/or Spanish, the teachers are bilingual.

Every other week Travel Thursday brings you travel tips and information on the amazing sights and activities the world has to offer.

Recipe: Fried Rice

Fried Rice

I’m trying to cook more. The problem with me is that I’m not exact. I tend to get to excited and just dive on in. Which is how I ended up with too much rice. I had made rice to go with a frozen stir fry meal I had. I didn’t measure the rice, I put in what I thought was the right amount…but it was way too much. I randomly decide to sub water for beef broth…as that is all I had and I wanted a little more flavor out of my jasmine rice. Well it turned out pretty good. But I was tired of eating stir fry with rice after a few days, so decided to try to make Fried Rice.

I had a good idea on the basics: Rice, eggs, carrots, peas, soy sauce. Which is good, because that is about all I had. I then added in chives, sesame oil, and used vegetable oil in a wok to cook everything.

Essentially, start with the eggs, a few drops of soy sauce & sesame oil, and chives in a bowl.
Then I put a little oil on the wok on medium-high heat.
Once the egg is cooked and chopped up, add in the rice, and veggies and turn up the heat.
Then I just cooked and added more sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.

It might not look amazing, but it sure did taste good! And it was so quick to make!