Category Archives: World Travels

Sea Turtles Along the Cancun Beaches in Mexico

  

Sea Turtles in Cancun 

When we were in Cancun recently, I got up really early {EEEK!} on our first morning there to watch the sunrise over the ocean. But alas, there were way too many dark clouds completely covering the sky. ⛅️ bummer!
Experiencing a beautiful sunrise over the ocean may have been a total bust, but it was still an amazing morning!! God is good like that! Sometimes we have an idea of what we want or expect, but he has a different plan in mind. That was this morning for me.

Tracking turtles



As I walked along the beach, I started noticing tracks in the beach coming from the sea. I quickly realized that they were from sea turtles coming up to lay their eggs!!! As I walked along, I began counting and there had been five mamas that had laid their eggs just in front of our resort during the night.

Sea turtle tracks leading to the beach where a female laid her eggs, then returned to the ocean. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Sea turtle tracks leading to the beach where a female laid her eggs, then returned to the ocean.
As many times that we have been to our shared condo in Cancun, I had never noticed this before. Just how was that possible? I photographed the holes and tracks with my iPhone. You can see the intention from their tails dragging in the sand and where their flippers had moved along both sides. Follow the tracks and they lead you to the massive holes where the eggs were laid. As you follow their path then you can see where they went back into the ocean.

The green turtles that made these tracks are endangered and can weigh 500 – 1000 pounds! They are huge! Our resort has a team that collect the eggs and move them to a corral that is secure where the eggs hatch and then they are released at dusk into the ocean so that they have a better chance of survival. Amazingly, these turtles tend to go back to the place they hatched to lay their eggs! Is that crazy or what?

A female sea turtle laying her eggs on a Cancun beach. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
A female sea turtle laying her eggs on a Cancun beach.
Our turtle adventures continued literally every day that we were in Cancun. A couple of evenings I went down to the beach in the middle of the night to try to see if I could actually spot a mama turtle laying her eggs. What a surprise when I actually saw not one, but two mamas on the beach one evening! It was amazing watching the process!

Hatchlings



I’d never seen turtles hatching before either and had that chance by accident as well. Crazy thing… Twice during our week’s stay! One afternoon we were taking a stroll in the sand and a gentleman showed us a pile of eggs laying on top of a mound of seaweed. There had been a bad storm the night before and the thought was that the mama was disoriented.

Sea turtle eggs found on the beach in Cancun. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Sea turtle eggs found on the beach in Cancun.
A guard was called over and as he was collecting the eggs, we noticed a hatchling that had gotten caught up in the seaweed as well. There was a lot of seaweed this year. I don’t know how any of the babies hatching could make it through all of it. It was like a huge barrier.

Thats me holding a newly hatched sea turtle found on the beach in Cancun! what a wonderful experience! Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Thats me holding a newly hatched sea turtle found on the beach in Cancun! what a wonderful experience!
If your taking a walk along the white sand beach, be sure to watch where you are stepping!! I found hatchlings that didn’t make it out to sea on a couple of mornings too. Five babies one morning were sure to be breakfast for some very interested birds if I had not spotted them and taken them to a guard. Poor things. They were safe though and were released that evening.

Hatchling turtle releases along the Cancun beach



We participated in a baby turtle release at our resort one evening. We did this last year too. I’ve learned that most Cancun resorts participate in the turtle conservation program by collecting eggs, protecting them in corrals and then releasing the hatchlings into the ocean.

A safe corral for the sea turtle eggs collected along the white sand beach in Cancun Mexico at the Royal Sands Resort. Photo copyright www.PieLadyLife.com
A safe corral for the sea turtle eggs collected along the white sand beach in Cancun Mexico at the Royal Sands Resort.
Many resorts allow their guests to witness and participate in the release. No flash photos or bright lights are allowed during the release as the light will disorient the hatchlings where they may not make it out far enough into the sea. Instead they may end up back on the beach where they may become a bird’s dinner. Geez! No one wants that to happen!

If you’d like to participate in a release, just ask at your resort or hotels front desk. If your walking along the beach at 8:00 in the evening and you happen to run across a bunch of people lined up along the water line, you can just about bet that there will be a release going on. Just fall into line and join in the fun! But no flash, please!

Best time for turtles



Seven of the eight species of endangered sea turtles nest along the beaches in Mexico. Four of the species nest on the Cancun beaches. They are loggerhead, leatherback, white (green) and hawksbill.

A female turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the night on the beach in Cancun.. Photo by Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
A female turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the night on the beach in Cancun.
The female turtles come ashore to nest between May and October to lay their eggs in the white sands along the Cancun shoreline. It’s a wonderful thing to watch, just be sure to stand back and don’t mess with any female. If she feels that it isn’t safe to lay her eggs, she will return to the ocean rather than nest.

Once the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles are set to be released from July thru October.

Our regular week at our condo at Royal Resorts is the beginning of September. Perfect time of the year for both eggs to be laid and hatchlings to be born. I intend to learn more about sea turtles before we return next year. Hopefully, our grandchildren will be able to go with us too! I’m sure any child would love to see all the baby turtles!

Newly hatched sea turtle heading to the ocean on the beach in Cancun , Mexico Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadtLife.com
Newly hatched sea turtle heading to the ocean on the beach in Cancun , Mexico

Lessons learned from the turtles



God has a plan for every living being He placed on this Earth. When I see and learn more about his creatures, it brings me closer to Him. Think about nature all around you. How can anyone not believe in Him? He has a plan for your life too! Just like the turtles 🌴🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

The eggs we watched the mama lay are in this mound of sand. they were moved to a corral, counted and marked. Photo by Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
The eggs we watched the mama lay are in this mound of sand. they were moved to a corral, counted and marked.
Many thanks to the most patient young man whom I met on the beach who stayed with me overnight so that I could watch the two female sea turtles lay their eggs. His name is Junior and is a guard at a neighboring resort. He was also responsible for collecting and counting her eggs, moving them to a safe corral and marking the new nest. Hoping these eggs hatch and make their way to the ocean safely! Maybe we will see them on the beach again one day!

Have you experienced Sea Turtles laying their eggs or a hatchling release? Tell us about it! 

Join us in Northern Italy & the Riviera for food, wine and fun! 

Food, wine, beautiful sights and even a pasta making class!!

The Cinque Terre in Northern Italy is an optional excursion while we are in the Riveria
The Cinque Terre in Northern Italy is an optional excursion while we are in the Riviera!
We ♥️ Italy so much that we decided to take a small group back with us on a private tour to visit some places we’ve never been, along with visiting some of our old friends! Turin, Italian Riviera, Bologna, Verona, Venice and much, much more with a few side trips on our own!!! May 15-27, 2016.

Join us on the trip extension in Venice!! it's a magical romantic place like none other!
Join us on the trip extension in Venice!
Remember, on our tour, you will be traveling with a couple that works in the food industry and a professional photographer to boot! I’ll gladly help you take better travel photos and even take some for you!

A $300 deposit per person is all it takes to reserve your space to go with us on this amazing trip! Pay as you wish with balance due by 3-6-2016. It’s like travel Lay-a-way! Booking for our tour closes on soon! 

Full itinerary details & to sign up are on our tour website:

Coffee Shop Travel Club Italy 2016

There will be few surprises for you along the way too!

Q&A’s about our group trip to Italy

 

Q: How will we be getting around Italy?

A: The tour company will provide us a luxury bus with a guide and bus driver that will be with us throughout the tour. There will be boat rides along the Italian Rivera and in Venice. We will be walking around the city centers and other places. Definitely bring those walking shoes!

Q: I’m thinking about going, but don’t have a travel buddy. Can I go alone?

A: You betcha! We have several ladies coming with us without a spouse. It’s probably safest to travel this way to explore to world solo. You can pay a little extra and have your own room (as space permits) or be paired with another lady to share a hotel room. Ask me about sharing! We have someone looking to share now! Solo gentlemen also welcome!

Q: What about booking our flights?

A: The easiest way is to book your flights along with the guided tour. The tour company can get better rates because of the sheer volume of business they do with the airlines. Online, you just type in the airport near you such as DFW for those here in Waco. The price will come up and will be added to your total. It’s around $1400 per person. If you want to use miles or book your own flights, that’s perfectly fine! You can still arrange for a transfer from the airport in Milan to our hotel in Turin with the tour company. Just call them at their 800 number. Transfers inside Italy are included when you book your airfare with the tour company.

Q: I’d like to take advantage of our airfare and go to Europe early or stay later. Can that be done?

A: Sure thing!! Donald and I are both staying longer. All you have to do is call the tour company and let them know when you’d like to arrive or leave. Those of you that are staying with us, just need to let me know and I can tell the tour company.

Q: How do I join your group tour?

A: There are several ways to book. Which ever one you are most comfortable with is the best.

1. Online at http://coffeeshoptravel.grouptoursite.com

2. Call Go Ahead Tours at 1-800-206-9871 and give them our group tour number 68796229

3. Ask me for a tour Réservation form to book and send a check in the mail.

Q: How do I pay?

A: It’s easy! It only takes a $300 per person deposit to hold your space. You can pay whenever and how much you wish as long as it’s paid in full by March 6, 2016. You can pay with a credit card online or over the phone or mail a check.

Q: What do I need to do to travel to Italy?

A: You just need a passport to travel to Italy. Make sure you have at least 6 months left on yours at the time we leave. If you don’t have a passport, you can visit your post office and pick up a form or download a passport form from the State Department website. You’ll need a certified copy of your birth certificate and 2 passport photos that can be taken at the post office or Walgreens for a fee (around $10). Don’t try taking the photos yourself or using a snap shot. There are specific requirements which are best left to a professional. Fill out the forms, bring along your photos and birth certificate and pay the fee.

If you are in Waco, the post office on Hwy 6 is the place you need to go to submit your application. They will answer all your questions and take care of you. Be sure to call for the passport hours and schedule an appointment. You should really get this done as soon as you decide to go. it may take 6-8 weeks to get them. For more information, visit the U.S. State Dept Passports web page. Information about renewing a passport is also on the site.

Q: Which excursions are you going on? Can I book them later?

A: Donald and I will be going along on both the optional excursions and on the extension to Venice. You can book the excursions later but I’d just go ahead and book now and save the $10 per excursion for booking early. They are things you’ll want to see and do. I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of going to Venice! The price they charge for the hotel, travel, stops from Verona to Venice and the guided tour while there is less that I usually pay for one nights stay in a hotel there! Seriously, it’s an amazing place that you need to go to!

Q: I don’t live in Waco or even Texas. Can I still go with your group?

A: Anyone can join our little group! You certainly do not have to live in Waco or Texas or even live in the US. We make friends quickly and those interested in joining us are welcome! We have met and made friends with people from all over the world while traveling! It’s an amazing experience traveling with people that enjoy traveling, meeting new people and seeing and experiencing places that become forever memories. You can fly out of any airport and we will all meet up in Turin, Italy to begin our tour! When booking, just input your nearest international airport and the price will come up. If you call, just tell the operator your nearest airport. Super easy!

Q: Is trip insurance available?

A: Yes, insurance is available! Just call Go Ahead and have it added to your trip. There’s a bonus if added within 14 days of booking too. Here is the info and choices of coverage:

Educational First/Go Ahead Tours Travel Insurance

If you love to travel a lot, like we do, I’ve found an insurance company that actually covers your travel annually rather than by each individual trip. I found it while booking a flight with Delta Airlines for another trip. I’m excited about it as the cost is just under one thousand dollars for both of us for every trip taken during the year. More about that after I look into it more or check out Delta’s website.

Q: Are you going to~~~ insert your favorite destination?

A: We will be taking groups to several places in the years to come! You are welcome to come along on any and all that we go on!

June 2017 we will be going back to Italy to a part we have never experienced but always wanted to go. Puglia has been on my short list for years and this tour also includes a great part of Southern Italy. It’s amazing how different every region of Italy is! We will visit Naples, Sorrento and the Trulli Valley! One excursion I’m really looking forward to is visiting the beautiful Island of Capri! This is just a taste of what we will see on this trip! Here is a link to our 2017 Southern Italy trip:

http://valeriecitrano.grouptoursite.com/

We would like to go back to Israel and walk in the steps of Jesus. If you haven’t experienced this yet, it is a must! Truly life changing! This is a 10 day tour that visits Tel Aviv, Haifa, Lake Tiberias, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Gallilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount Zion, Masada, the Dead Sea and through Jericho. Who would like to go with us? Thinking September or October of 2016. We will extend our stay and visit Jordan for four additional nights this trip too.

What about France? France is always a good idea! Paris, Normandy and the Loire Valley are definitely something we will do! Maybe right after the Puglia and Southern Italy trip? We can combine two trips and save on airfare! Who’s in?

Have a question not answered here? Just ask! 
Coffee Shop Travel Club Italy 2016

Food, wine and friends enjoying Italy! Join us May 15-27, 2016! Reserve your spot now!
Food, wine and friends enjoying Italy! Join us May 15-27, 2016! Reserve your spot now!

Join us in Italy May 15-27, 2016! Only a few spaces left on this amazing small group food and wine tour! Visit www.PieLadyLife.com for details! We would love to have you come along!
Join us in Italy May 15-27, 2016! Only a few spaces left on this amazing small group food and wine tour!
 

Our Eating Prague Tour 

We had worried about the rain forecasted on our spring Saturday in Prague. It actually turned out to be a beautiful sunny day for a foodie walk through Old Town and the surrounding area. Our guide lead us through small, out of the way streets, passages and gardens on our quest for some of the best local foods of the Czech Republic.
Our merry band of foodies on our Eating Prague Tour
Our merry band of foodies on the Eating Prague Tour
Our meeting place at 12:30 was at a very Bohemian chocolate shop on Klimentska Street. Our small group of four couples were an international mix which all spoke English. We were joined by couples from England and Italy and a young US couple that are living in Spain while she attends and he teaches at a university in Barcelona. We find a unique commonality that we all love food!
Our guide on the Eating Prague Tour on PieLadyLife.com
Our own Pied Piper who led us through the streets of Prague in front of the rather hidden entrance to Styl & Interier
Our guide, Jan is from Prague but has lived in Seattle and San Francisco while working for Microsoft. As we got to know him, we learned that he is an aspiring artist with a young family that obviously loves the ins and outs of food. He bakes too. His speciality is cheesecake. Quite the diversified businessman, along with setting up and guiding the Eating Prague Tours, he also guides photo tours around Prague.
We learned from our guide that Eating Prague Tours was founded and is owned by an American now living in Rome. His ‘Eating’ dynasty now includes Rome, London, Amsterdam and of course Prague.

Horice rolled wafers filled with cream dipped in chocolate at Choco Cafe on PieLadyLife,com
Horice rolled wafers filled with cream dipped in chocolate at Choco Cafe
  

Eat Dessert First
Our tasting began with dessert! Great way to begin I think! The sugar will help with all the walking we will be doing during our next four hours. Choco Cafe is a family owned small chocolate shop in a quaint setting on an off street. The decor is a mixture of funky, mixed-matched tables and chairs with the walls covered with posters celebrating Chocolate. The smells in the air are intoxicating!
Light, flaky Horice rolled wafers filled with a lovely cream which you dip in a warm, rich, thick chocolate sauce. This pastry was made legendary by Napoleon and is served in only a few restaurants. Absolutely heavenly way to begin the tour!
Open faced sandwiches from Sisters in Prague on PieLadyLife.com
Open faced sandwiches from Sisters in Prague
Sandwiches and meat
We then began our walk on small streets through the Jewish Quarter to a pair of businesses only separated by a narrow passage on Dlouha Street. Our first offering was a trio of gourmet open faced sandwiches from Sisters. We began with a lovely beet spread with a chunk of goat cheese and a beet leaf. Then came a lovely slaw made of celery root and finally a mixture of cod. These were served with a lovely elderberry flavored lemonade.
Sausages, spicy mustard and pickles at Nase Maso in Prague from PieLadyLife.com
Sausages, spicy mustard and pickles at Nase Maso
Just across the passage way is Nase Maso, a meat market that offers some of the best meats in Prague. Their reputation  of using local, high quality meats has caught the attention of Prague chefs who purchase their offerings for service at their restaurants. The line at their counter proves they are loved by the locals as well. We tasted three sliced meats including ham and salami. Their traditional sausage, mustard and gherkin pickles were my personal favorite.
Naso Maso is more than just a butcher shop. They will grill the meats you choose from their counter and offer plates that include traditional artisan bread baked locally. A young man who was attempting to enjoy his lunch while our group basically surrounded him and his table, declared that his pork cheek was the best that he had ever tasted. He noted that it was flavorful and fork tender.
   
Unique setting at the cozy Zvonice Restaurant in Prague at PieLadyLife.com
Unique setting at the cozy Zvonice Restaurant in Prague
Tucked in a Bell Tower
I must say that I was excited that our next restaurant was on our tour! I had inadvertently found this charming place while searching for places to eat in Prague. It’s setting in a bell tower offers the ambience that would be appreciated by young lovers (ask for the table for two tucked between the bell and window) and history buffs alike. It is not obvious there is a dining establishment on the upper floor from the outside, so it is frequented mainly by locals. Though it is located in a tourist area, people just walk right by.
Sauerkraut Soup inside a bell tower at Restaurant Zvonice in Prague at PieLadyLife.com
Sauerkraut Soup inside a bell tower at Restaurant Zvonice in Prague
Our guide refused to tell us what we would be tasting even after the wait staff placed a bowl in front of each of us. It seams that a lot of people are put off by sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in Eastern Europe does not have a bold vinegar taste like the jars we buy in our American grocery stores. It has a much smoother taste when made from scratch. This chef is said to make the best Old Bohemian Sauerkraut soup in the world. The cabbage is sliced razor thinly in a velvety sauce with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of basil cream sauce. Absolutely fabulous!
Don’t let the ‘S’ word scare you!  Look for Restaurant Zvonice on Jindrisska Vez the next time you are in Prague. You will not be disappointed.
Pate and handmade wine at S &I in Prague at PieLadyLife.com
Pate and hand crafted black currant wine at Styl & Interier in Prague
Handcrafted wine
The well hidden little coffee shop, Styl & Interier on Vodickova is down a passage just off Wenceslas Square. It is an interior decor shop turned cafe due to their unique wine and pate offerings. This mom and daughter duo have began to be so popular that they are now expanding and installing a full kitchen. At this stop we were offered a lovely pate with a hint of bacon along with a slightly spicy celery salad with cranberries that I would definitely love to have the recipe for!
Their handcrafted wine was made with fresh black currants. Quite smooth and a nice fragrance. I thought it was really lovely! Bottles are available for purchase as our young Italian tour-mates found to be a nice souvenir. A glass or two would be especially nice while enjoying the sunshine in their adjacent garden patio.
  
Cafe Louvre's Svickova: Braised Beef in Prague at PieLadyLife.com
Cafe Louvre’s Svickova: Braised Beef
Traditional Braised Beef
Café Louvre was also on my radar for a visit! So happy this was an included stop!  This is the place for people watching. I’m told that prominent Europeans choose to come here to see and be seen.
Located a flight or so up in a historic building this jewel offers traditional dishes like the Svíčková or Braised Beef that we were served. Tender beef in a vegetable cream sauce with bread dumplings and cranberries. Load your fork with all the components for that perfect bite! Had the room not have been full of patrons, I would have given more serious thought to licking my plate. We were given an abbreviated serving for our tasting. I can’t imagine what a full entrée would do to me!! My diet was suffering. I had tried to be ‘good’ up until this point. Then they brought out dessert! 

 

The Cafe Louvre's custard cream sauce makes their apple strudel special PieLadyLife.com
Ahhh. The Louvre’s custard cream sauce!


The Louvre’s apple strudel was special. Why? It was the creamy vanilla custard sauce that they paired  with their flakey, apple goodness. That sauce is amazing! I’m definitely trying this at home! 

Just book it!

All in all, I would recommend Eating Prague Tours to anyone. It’s a nice mix of food, good conversation and a nice informative walk through some of the back streets around the tourist areas of Prague that you may not see otherwise. Our guide did a nice job of showing us some historic places along with some that were a bit off beat. A nice mix. A lovely day. Come hungry. Leave satisfied. Don’t make dinner plans.

You can contact them through their website at 


*** I was not compensated for this review. They had no idea who I even was. The opinions are truly my own. I’d happily go on any of this companies tours. Looking forward to seeking them out. Hope they expand! May I suggest Florence?