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Survivor Nicaragua Winner is Surprised when his Horse leads him to the Tribe's Beach Camp
Five months after he won Survivor Nicaragua, Jud Birza returned and wanted to go for a horseback ride. Little did he know Rancho Chilamate was heading to the beach where his tribe camped. No film crew. No publicist. Just Jud Unplugged and Loving It!!
By: Blue van Doorninck
He had hoped to return soon - so when Nicaragua invited Fabio to come and experience what this great country had to offer - he jumped at the chance. And when choosing a ‘friend’ to bring, it was an easy choice for him - his sister Kelsey.
For a true wannabe cowboy, horseback riding was definitely on his list to do. Cowboy Jud has a profound connection with nature and animals, and sees horsemanship as a way to strengthen that bond. So, it was no surprise he made an instant connection with Rancho Chilamate Trail Boss Jamie Lake, who shares an identical connection and looks somewhat like an older version of Jud with the same crystal blue eyes and sexy smile. There was plenty of talk about trust, alchemy and the relationship between horse and man. “We’re cowbros”, says Jamie. “Kowabunga”
As the trail ride winded through the local community and up into the field, he enthusiastically pointed out to his sister the troops of Howler Monkeys. Little did Jud know that the trail was going to take him back to the very beach where he camped with his tribe during the filming of Survivor.
When the forest opened up to the crashing waves and low tide sands at Playa Escamequita, an instant recognition washed over his face and he knew where he was. “Hey man, this is our beach! Down here was our spa. There’s the rock we always saw. Holy shit!”
As we made our way down the beach towards the camp, he shared that when life back in the States overwhelms him he takes himself back to his time here in Nicaragua. “It calms me,” Jud says “the time here was the best in my life.”
He was enthusiastic and quirky, but more than anything, he was for real.
Just as viewers would remember, Jud scrambled up a tree at the camp to pick some tamarind for his sister, but it didn’t fair so well with the taste test. “They taste better when fried in a pan, kind of like Popcorn Shrimp”. Really? “Well no,” he says “you have to be really hungry.”
There was plenty of talk about the hunger, the rain and the psychology of the game as he recounted his time here. Jud was excited to share it all with his sister. “Hey Kelsey, back here is ‘coconut grove’.”, where they dug holes for toilets – recounting that he only went 3 or 4 times in that month. Jud pointed out the now infamous hermit crabs and referred to the lagoon as the ‘pool’ where they caught catfish.
Jud then jumped back on his trusty steed Colorado and galloped up and down the beach with waves spraying up over his horse, wind blowing in his hair, and that smile that clearly got him those modeling jobs. He was loving it and it showed!
Truth be told, with no television and slow internet at Rancho Chilamate, we only watched the first episode of Survivor Nicaragua when it aired while the crew was still here filming Redemption Island. People often question the ‘reality’ of ‘reality TV’, and we can safely say that in this case, that there are still specatular deserted beaches in Nicaragua for you to visit and Jud actually is the ‘dude’ you saw on Survivor.
It’s Mother’s Day this coming weekend and he took special attention to get a photo of him and his sister on horseback for his mom back in Missouri. He shared his thought that winning also had something to do with the number 21. He turned 21 the day before they started filming, it was 21 days into the shoot on July 4th, and it was Season 21. I guess it was his number… and his time.
As he piled back into the truck, with his salted face and soaked sandy jeans, he sighed contentedly “Man, I love that dude. He just gave me a ‘real’ 8 second hug.” He smiled knowingly when someone said, “Just like Trail Boss Jamie, you’re a lover, not a fighter. That’s how you won Survivor.” There’s no cameras rolling here and he almost cries for real.
Clearly the country that helped fill his pocketbook has touched his heart too. Jud wants his next visit to Nicaragua to include an overnight horseback camping trip with Rancho Chilamate. Ya dude, we’re in! You buy the Flor de Caña Rum.
For more info on Rancho Chilamate visit http://www.ranchochilamate.com
For more photos of Cowboy Jud: http://www.flickr.com/
Special acknowledgement to co-ordinators and fellow riders Gabby Castillo of http://www.WeddingsNicaragua.com and Ana Marcela Valladares at ProNicaragua http://www.pronicaragua.org
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Rancho Chilamate is a solar-powered off-the-grid private ranch in SW Nicaragua offering guided jungle and beach rides on horseback. Owners: Blue is a professional photographer and Jamie is wrangler and blacksmith. http://www.ranchochilamate.com