Cowgirlin’ at Rancho Chilamate, Nicaragua

What do you do when, without warning and in a second, you find your life tragically changed? You could travel the world until you found a piece of land that is perfect for a resort with horses. That is what Blue Van Doorninck did after losing her husband and the dreams they shared.

Blue always wanted to be a cowgirl so she started with a pair of Nicaraguan blue doors and built Rancho Chilamate around them.  I got to visit this week and loved every minute of it. The resort is nestled in a small wooded valley along the Nicaraguan coast near San Juan Del Sur. Its hacienda-style house has six rooms for guests, a pool and a great playlist keeping you in the dining room. The ranch is a cowgirl’s dream — a wall of cowboy hats and rack of snap shirts in a room lined with cowboy boots. And, of course, a bunch of fat, happy horses.But it’s not as peaceful as you might expect. In a good way. At dawn and dusk, the grackles in the courtyard  keep us entertained with their many very loud calls, including high-pitched screams, high-pitched whistles and high-pitched chirps. The calls of the howler monkeys are a little further off. Although howler monkeys don’t get much bigger than 20 pounds, their growls sound like the scariest monster in your life. They reminded me of something and after wracking  my brain I realized it was the Abominable Snowman at Disneyland!

The bullfrogs (croakers) and the gekkos (chirpers) in the dining room seem to sleep in. We leave them early to ride the horses through the countryside and over the hills to a beach that is right out of a travel magazine.








In the evenings, we are treated to family style dinners around a giant table. Afterward, a guest pulls a guitar off the wall and plays while we stare at the stars.

Rancho Chilamate es muy genius!

Blue (on the right) with fellow cowgirls — Heike from Germany and Naomi from Canada.


  1. Rancho “Chill” sounds like it lives up to its (slightly revised) name, What a nice way to finish up your trip… and once again your pics and narrative were great.

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