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The Ranch - Tera Cora Ranch Christmas Market Extravaganza

Xp Bonaire IslandLife Feature Story


Nestled on the picturesque island of Bonaire is Tera Cora Ranch, an unexpected treasure that hosts a remarkable annual Christmas market event. We'll explore the captivating journey of Tera Cora Ranch and the passionate duo behind it, Shirley Zeeman and Jaimylee van Kouwen.

A Serendipitous Move to Bonaire


In 2001, Shirley Zeeman, and her daughter, Jaimylee van Kouwen, who lived in Spain made a life-altering decision to leave Spain behind and set their sights on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. A unique opportunity presented itself when a family friend offered them a house exchange, prompting Shirley and family to embark on a journey to an island they had never laid eyes on. Spain had lost its allure, and this move was a welcomed change.


Their initial transition to Bonaire was not without its challenges. Bonaire offered a simpler life than the bustling Spain they were accustomed to. However, it was here that Shirley and her family discovered their true calling. While they ventured into the world of ZEKO, an auto parts and sales business they still own (but plan to transition away from), their hearts found a home at Tera Cora Ranch.


For Jaimylee, her journey to embracing Bonaire was quite a transformation. Initially arriving on the island at the tender age of 11, she found it old-fashioned and quiet, a stark contrast to what she was accustomed to. However, as she matured, her perspective on the island shifted dramatically. Approaching her 32nd birthday, she now appreciates the laid-back atmosphere of Bonaire and has fully embraced the island as her home. Locals recognize her from the hospitality industry, her love for skating, and her deep passion for music.


The Birth of Tera Cora Ranch


Over the past seven years, Tera Cora Ranch has been the labor of love for Shirley and Jaimylee, with their official ownership commencing in October 2022. Their journey to becoming the sole owners had its twists and turns. Initially, Wout, Shirley's ex-partner, expressed interest in the ranch, but took over ownership later, alongside other partners. However, the collaboration did not go as smoothly as expected, prompting Shirley and Jaimylee to take control of their destiny.


At Tera Cora Ranch, Shirley and Jaimylee share responsibilities seamlessly. Jaimylee takes the lead in marketing and organization, while Shirley's creativity shines through her impeccable planning. Both have master culinary skills in the kitchen. Together, they have reinvigorated the ranch, making it a vibrant and welcoming place for the community.

Comfort food at Tera Cora Ranch


A standout feature of Tera Cora Ranch is its diverse food for a very reasonable price. The initial Wednesday theme dinners became a Greek menu due to demand alongside Jaimylee's sushi creations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ranch thrived as people sought takeout options, prompting the expansion of its opening days from just Wednesdays to Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Sushi takeout is always available, making Tera Cora Ranch a go-to spot for a unique dining experience on the island.



A Community-Centered Christmas Market


As the holiday season approaches, Tera Cora Ranch is gearing up for its annual Christmas Market on December 1st and 2nd. This market has become a significant event on the island, spreading the festive spirit among locals and tourists alike.


The market is a delightful blend of Christmas traditions and Caribbean charm. Visitors can stroll through stalls adorned with holiday decorations, food and gifts. The market offers an array of delectable treats, including traditional Dutch oliebollen and mulled wine, all lovingly prepared by the ranch's team. A delightful surprise awaits with the presence of Sinterklaas and the beloved Santa Claus, adding a touch of enchantment to the event.


What sets this Christmas market apart is its commitment to local causes. Funds are raised for various community initiatives, and, throughout the market, live acts and dance performances entertain visitors. The festivities continue with live bands in the evenings, providing an immersive and unforgettable experience.


The Tera Cora Ranch Christmas Market has grown over the years, attracting around 300 visitors in the previous year. With an even larger venue this year, the event promises to be an even grander celebration.


In conclusion, Tera Cora Ranch is not merely a place; it's a testament to the power of pursuing one's passion. Shirley Zeeman and Jaimylee van Kouwen's journey from Spain to Bonaire and their transformation of Tera Cora Ranch into a culinary and cultural haven is a remarkable story. The annual Christmas market is the embodiment of their commitment to the local community, blending holiday traditions with a Caribbean twist.


As the Christmas lights twinkle, and the festivities come to life, Tera Cora Ranch is poised to capture hearts once again, spreading the magic of the season across Bonaire. With its delectable food, unique products, and warm community spirit, this Christmas market extravaganza is a must visit for locals and tourists alike. Join the magic at Tera Cora Ranch where the spirit of the season truly comes to life.


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