Bella Vista is a private coeducational N-12 International
school located in the city of Maracaibo,
in western Venezuela. It was originally run by a consortium
of international oil companies prior to the nationalization
of oil resources by the Venezuelan government under the administration
of President Carlos Andrés Perez in January of 1976.
It started in September of 1934 as part of the Inter-Company
school system. It was reorganized as an independent non-profit
corporation in 1949, finally emerging as a private stock-owned
school in September, 1950. The roots of the school can actually
be traced as far back as 1896, when an American School was established
by an individual named Heráclio Osuna.
and the Roberts School were “THE
Schools” to many Americans, Europeans,
and Venezuelans whose parents lived and worked there. Today,
EBV is a private organization governed by a Board
of Educators composed of nine (9) members. The members are elected
annually by the shareholders of Escuela Bella Vista
and are representative of U.S., host country, and third country
communities that the school serves. The school still follows
an American curriculum, having maintained accreditation by the
ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS
since 1960. It's also an Associate Member of the EUROPEAN
COUNCIL OF INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS (ECIS).
a land of natural beauty, rich resources, and warm & friendly
people, and those of us who once lived there hold very fond
memories of the years we attended school there and the people
that we met. In many ways, Venezuela was, and still remains,
a “Second Home” to us all.
When I lived
in Venezuela in the '60's, the world appeared so much easier
and carefree back then. Of course, much of that had to do with
youthful innocence. But at that time, so many years before,
in stark contrast to the current oppressive, divisive, self-serving
and destructive “democratic dictatorship” of Hugo
Chávez, Venezuela had responsible democratic leadership.
The Venezuelan political situation
was stable and had been for many years. The Bolivar had been
pegged at Bs. 4.25 to the dollar for almost twenty years, so
1 Bs had real buying power, and the “fuerte” - the
silver 5 Bs coin - was king. Crime and personal security were
non-issues back then. One could go pretty much anywhere at any
time, day or night, without having to be concerned about personal
safety. The occasional burglar - often Colombians who would
take their loot & dash to the border - was about the only
real security concern in those days. The streets were safe.
population was happy, proud, harmonious, optimistic, and forward-thinking.
It was not the fragmented, divided society that exists today.
It was a time in our lives that was filled with stability, youthful
innocence and exhuberance, and seemingly unlimited possibilities
appeared to exist in the future for all of us. They were wonderful
and memorable years, and even though, as we reflect upon them
today, they almost seem like yesterday, they also now seem,
in retrospect, to have passed by so quickly.
I attended EBV
from 1963 to 1965, and graduated in 1965. In those days, the
school only went up to the 9th grade - the end of junior high.
Afterwards, I continued on to high school at the Roberts
School, graduating from the 12th Grade in 1968. Unfortunately,
this wonderful school, where so many great Maracaibo memories
continued on for three more years, no longer exists.
In 1995 I had
the good fortune of returning and visiting the school again
for the first time in 27 years. The Superintendent at
that time, Dr. Bert Webb,
and his wife very graciously allowed me to freely walk the grounds
once more. What wonderful memories returned !!
Following are some photos of what EBV
and Maracaibo looked like in 1995 for any EBV or
Roberts alumni, or any other “ex-Maracucho”
resident who may happen to travel through to these pages and
who haven't seen the school for many years.
should ever have the opportunity yourself of traveling again
to Maracaibo and plan on visiting EBV, because of security
concerns, I'd strongly recommend that you make sure to phone,
fax or write ahead of time to let them know of your
plans. The address is:
Avenida Cecilio Acosta Calle 67 Entre Avs. 3D Y 3E
Sector La Lago
Phone: 011-58-261-7911674 or 7911696
FAX: 011-58-261-7939417 EBV
E-Mail Contact Web Page
ESCUELA BELLA VISTA
BUZOOM C- MAR-P-1815
P.O. Box -02-8537
Miami, Florida 33102-8537
If you once attended
school or lived in Maracaibo, a list with over
1,900 entries of EBV and ROBERTS
SCHOOL alumni and other ex-pats who once
lived in Maracaibo is available. To protect everyone's
information that is provided for this list, is
derived from this site, or that otherwise appears
in this list will at no time be shared with any
for-profit 3rd-party. Your personal information
or personalized data will not be sold, marketed,
or released in any way to unaffiliated organizations.
This information will be shared exclusively with
Venezuelan international school alumni or former
or present Venezuelan residents for the sole purpose
of maintaining contact of old friendships or for
the use of those planning reunions. You will not
be asked to update the information you provide.
However, I do urge you to contact me if the information
you may have previously provided changes in order
to keep the list updated with your current address
information. This will allow old friends, who
may be attempting to contact you, to find you
with this list. The decision to do so, however,
remains yours. particularly
from E-Mail spammers, I'mnot posting that
listing here.But if you'd like a copy
of it, be sure to let me know by E-Mailing me,
letting me know when you were in Maracaibo and
where you'd like me to E-Mail the list. If you'd
like to be included in the list so that old friends
can find you, don't forget to include your
name and address in your message so that I can
add you. It's hoped that, with this
list, you'll be able to locate a long-lost friend(s)
whom you haven't seen, or have been long out-of-touch
with, for many years.
that the file is in EXCEL (XLS) format,
and will be ZIPped (compressed). If
you don't have a copy of WINZIP to
decompress this file, click here
to download a copy of WINZIP, Version
9. If you don't have EXCEL, you can
either download the EXCEL Viewer
(3.9 Mb), or E-Mail me and let me know so that I
can send it to you in HTML format.
also that I frequently receive new or updated names
& addresses that I add to the list as time goes
by. If it's been awhile since you last received
the list, E-Mail me
again if you want to receive an updated list. It
may be that a name you were looking for previously
that wasn't there is now on the list. All new or
updated names & addresses that I receive are
always posted in the last section
of the complete list. So when you search the list,
make sure you check this last section. Keep hitting
the <FIND> command until you've reached the
bottom of the list to make sure that a newer, updated
address for the person(s) you're looking for isn't
located farther down on the list.
If you did not attend
EBV, but had a similar experience at another
international school elsewhere in the world, and would like to try
to track down long-lost friends, please click here to go to my LINKS page for other locations
on the Internet that just may help you to find 'em!
This site includes a GUESTBOOK so that visitors can leave
messages or comments for everyone. Feel free to use it to look for lost
friends, reminisce, post reunion messages, etc. Just click here:
If you know of someone who used to live in Maracaibo or who may be interested
in this website, please take a moment to
Lastly, if you'd like to return to this site from time to time to see
what's new, make sure you to add this site to your FAVORITES list.
And now. . . . . on
to the photos! All were digitized from Hi-8 videotape using
a video digitizer. Sit back, relax, and forget about everything
else for a moment. Take this short period to go back in time and re-live
the memories that all of us once shared, remembering those things that
were really important back then: who
we would see and sit with at the club movies that night; when the next
party would be and who would be throwing it; what the latest hits on
the Hit Parade were, who the best and newest bands were and what their
newest singles sounded like; how to keep from getting grounded; how
to best sneak that POLAR beer
without getting caught; who the latest couples were or who had just
broken up; what we could do to become more “popular”; what
plausible excuse we could come up with to tell the teacher because we
hadn't finished our homework; what cool items to bring back from home
leave, and then catching up on everything that had happened in Maracaibo
once we returned - in short, all those wonderful
things that constituted our daily lives during our years in Maracaibo!
For an enlarged view,
just click on any of the photos for more detail.
How many times did we trek up
& down these front stairs? And who could ever forget them? We'd
climb them every morning when school started, after lunch or P.E., or
coming back from the library, and we'd descend them again every afternoon
when school ended. Often, we'd stand at the top of the stairs shouting
out goodbyes to those who were getting into cars or the buses at the
end of the school day.
The panels that screen the hallways
from the street are now white. If I recall correctly, back in the '60's
they were a transluscent milky yellow in color, made of fiberglass,
and had full-length vertical corrugations.
Note the high-rise apartment buildings across the street in the background
where there once was only blue sky.
Another Angle of the Front
I was walking down the hall to
the left of the staircase (behind the tree in this view) when I first
heard that President Kennedy had been shot in 1963. Everyone was let
out early, and we didn't find out that he had actually been assassinated
until after we got home. In those days, all the breaking, “live”
news at home came to us through shortwave radio from The Voice
of America, Armed Forces Radio, or the BBC World Service
because TV service didn't start until 6:00 PM, and the quality of TV
news wasn't as detailed, thorough, nor as up-to-the-minute as the news
received over shortwave radio. We also then subsequently listened to
the funeral live on shortwave radio.
Note the security bars and the
glass above the classroom walls, which used to all be completely open
for air circulation. Those classrooms could sometimes get pretty hot
during the day. Today, all classrooms are air-conditioned (!). In fact,
I was told that the last ones to be converted over with air-conditioning
were, coincidentally, being converted the week I was there in 1995.
Not only does air-conditioning make the classrooms cooler, but it also
makes them quieter as well.
The Lockers !
All of the old lockers are still
there - exactly as we left them - and they're still being used today.
They're virtually unchanged except for new coats of paint. And
each locker still has those small door vent slits, which made it possible
to drop tightly folded notes into the locker of a friend or that “special
someone”, which they would then discover the next time they opened
The lockers were considerably
smaller than the gym-type lockers one sees at many high schools today,
but they never felt small to us back then. We always seemed to have
plenty of room with them. And in those days, backpacks weren't the stylish
thing that everyone had like students do today. Nobody had laptop computers,
PDAs, cell phones, or CD, DVD, or MP3 players. None of those distractions
existed for us back then (and I'm glad for it!). So we never carried
too many things to school that would tend to overfill our lockers.
Athough the locks still get changed
every year, I'd be willing to bet that they're still hiding
all the same kind of secrets and cool stuff that we used to put in 'em
back then. And I'd also be willing to bet that all the great socializing
that used to go on around those lockers between and after classes still
goes on today.
The rear stairs always looked
so fragile and flimsy, and while going up and down you could easily
feel the vibrations of other footsteps quite strongly. Because of the
vibrations, they always seemed to feel somewhat flimsy. Yet here the
stairs are as they looked in 1995 - still standing strong. They've certainly
withstood the test of time.
This is what the staircase looks
like in 2003 courtesy of Alfredo Pérez,
taken from the same angle. The new paint scheme changes the “look”,
but not the form factor, of the stairs. But the grounds of the common
area between the buildings has changed quite dramatically since 1995.
There's been an extensive amount of landscaping put in with gravel pathways,
brick borders, and plants added. The trees block a good deal of the
view from the upper level, making it seem more “private”,
and provide some nice shade to the area. It looks like a nice area to
sit down under a tree and open a book.
Audrey Wynne Memorial Plaque
(2nd Grade photo courtesy
of Douglas Becker)
Do you recall this plaque on
the front wall of the gym? You'd see it every time you went into the
gym. I'd forgotten all about it, and seeing it once again really brought
back memories of the thousands of times I went to the gym.
The gym was originally dedicated
in October of 1955 as the Audrey Wynne Paris Gymnasium.
I finally learned the tragic story of Audrey Wynne in an around-about
way. Audrey's sister Diane also attended the American school in Amuay.
An Internet friend of mine by the name of Randy Trahan, who hosts a
website by the name of Randy's
Amuay Home Page, attended an Amuay Reunion in Las Vegas in May
2000, where he met up with Diane. He was able to find out directly
from her what the real story was, and a few other details have since
emerged from other sources.
Audrey and Rita Bayne (Flowers),
one of Audrey's best friends, both went to Coromoto hospital
in Maracaibo in 1953 to have tonsillectomies. Something went terribly
wrong, and Audrey unexpectedly passed away due to excessive loss of
blood. Tonsillectomies were extremely common back them, and so
it was, of course, completely unexpected that such a terrible thing
This plaque made Audrey Wynne
a part of all of us who attended EBV. And so, in this way, she will
never be forgotten.
“I remember when Audrey was so happy
to be able to get her tonsils out because she had spent
so much time being sick. She was looking forward to
feeling better. We were rehearsing for a dance recital
when she told us and she expected to be back for the
recital. Her sister, whose name escapes me, and Audrey
were going to do a duet to "Me and My Shadow"
which her sister, a real trooper, did alone in her honor.
We were told that a vein was cut by accident in the
throat when the tonsils were being removed. She was
such a vibrant person!”
Sally Rudes Chennell
VOB Forum - Jan 31, 2006
“Thank you Sally, that was an interesting
“l didn't know all those facts you gave about
Audrey. She and l went in to the hospital together to
have our tonsils removed. l was told she bled to death
because she was a bleeder and no one knew beforehand
and that she had a heart condition, also unknown to
the doctors. The story about her and Diana (her sister)
was so sweet and the first time l had heard it. 'Me
and My Shadow' will always have special meaning to me
Rita Bayne Flowers
La Salina 1943-1955
Dedication of the Audrey
Wynne Paris Gymnasium in October, 1955. (Photo
courtesy of Douglas Becker)
of 2003, I received confirmation from James
Migues [Class of 1983] that this plaque has indeed been removed
since my visit in 1995. Its whereabouts is a mystery. There's the possibility
that it was moved somewhere else on campus, but James could not locate
it at the time of his visit.
I'd like to
think that EBV administration had the good sense to move the plaque
to another location on campus in order to preserve her memory and also
to preserve EBV tradition. I understand from Alfredo Pérez[Class of 2003]
that a storage shed or building of some kind was
built right where this plaque used to be.
Considering the fact that the old gym was originally dedicated as the
“Audrey Wynne Paris [Memorial] Gymnasium” in 1955, it's
unfortunate that the plaque is no longer there, or at least readily
visible nearby, so that her memory can be kept alive. Perhaps it was
just missed during James' visit?
The gym! It hasn't changed much,
but note all of the classrooms behind it now where there was only green
grass before, with only two small rustic huts that held scout supplies.
I must admit that standing on that gym floor again after so many years
was actually a pretty emotional moment for me.
Since I only lived a block away
from the school, I spent many hours here shooting hoops
when I was young. I practiced a lot after school, and often on weekends.
There were also some pretty darned exciting night games between grades
that were held here in the early to mid '60's. Family attendance was
always good, so the bleachers were usually pretty well packed during
those games. And each team - each grade - also had their own team cheerleaders.
So the games were great fun for everyone. Sometimes the games would
even get written up in the next day's The Daily Journal, which
really made us feel as special as NBA stars.
I can still hear the cheering,
and it seems like only yesterday....
There's now another gym next
to the old one, with access to it on the other side of the dressing
rooms. It's pretty much a carbon copy of the original gym, although
it appears to be somewhat larger. It has double the number of bleachers
compared to the old gym. The most immediately noticeable difference
between the two gyms is that the roof on the new gym is considerably
higher - perhaps twice as high - as the roof on the old gym.
2 Gyms Together
This shot shows the locations
of the two gyms and their relationship to each other. Also in front
of the new gym are 2 full-size tennis courts - all where nothing but
the old “shop” classroom and asphalt that we used to walk
across to get to the gym used to be. School fairs often used to be held
on that old asphalt. I wonder where they hold them now? I also wonder
where they moved the old "shop" classroom to.
The facilities available for
the students has really improved over the years. It was great to see
that EBV has been doing so well after all these years,
not only surviving through the years, but improving along the way.
High Rises Across From The
Would you believe all the high-rises
that now exist across the street from the school? Whatever happened
to “quiet, sleepy” Maracaibo ? For those of you who
graduated later than I, I realize that this is nothing new. But
for those of us who were there in the '60's, when most of us lived in
regular houses and the number of apartment buildings around town was
limited, it's quite a dramatic change. Home security back then wasn't
the issue that it is today.
Hotel del Lago
- From the Back
Even the Hotel del Lago
now has a high-rise tower, visible in this view. Note also the enclosed
area in front of it where the old rectangular pool was once located.
It holds a fancy new restaurant/coffee shop and several large new ballrooms.
The old restaurant and coffee shop used to be quite small, and previously
only one smaller ballroom was located there. The larger parties, such
as the school proms, used to be held in the large Salon Caroní
towards the right front of the hotel. But I fondly remember that we
had some great parties, including at least two memorable Christmas
parties, in that smaller old ballroom
of those Christmas parties had a single, large Christmas tree as part
of the overall decoration. I remember that one year the tree was one
of those silver foil Christmas trees that had the light at the base
with the revolving color acetate filters that shined upwards, changing
the color of the tree as the filter changed. Remember those?!!
Those trees were really popular for a year or two, after which
their novelty wore out and they then disappeared forever!
The new pool that was built to
replace the old rectangular one sits to the right of this view.
Hotel del Lago
- From the Front
You can see the high-rise guest
tower clearly from the front of the building. The tower expanded the
size of the hotel and the number of rooms available for occupancy considerably.
It now has a total of 365 rooms, including 14 cabanas, 4 suites, and
9 junior suites.
The tunnel that used to lead
from the cabanas to the hotel basement is no longer there.
Hotel del Lago
- New Pool
The new pool's considerably larger
and nicer than the old rectangular one. This shot was taken from the
window of my hotel room. Look closely in the background and you can
see the refinery that was built across the lake. I don't know why that
particular location was chosen as the refinery site, but I'm told that
there are days when emissions from the refinery sometimes pollutes the
air in Maracaibo if the winds are right.
Creole (Lago Maracaibo)
Club - Remember the Pool?
Speaking of pools...how could
we ever forget this one? It's still there, with a few changes. The two
diving boards are gone, including the high dive that used to be so exciting
to dive from. I've been told that there used to be a trampoline in this
area as well - that's also long gone. In the back behind the pool there
is now a cabaņa. And the changing rooms to the right are now a two-story
brick & concrete building, complete with a very nice weight and
exercise room on the first floor.
Creole (Lago Maracaibo)
Club - Pool and Movie Screen
How many Tuesday and Friday nights
did we spend watching movies on “The Big Screen”? It's still
there, and virtually unchanged. What wonderful memories came flooding
back to me again as soon as I saw it! I remembered all the great socializing
we used to do while the lights were on before the movie started, and
how it would continue after the movie began if it wasn't a very good
film. Then there were the films that were good, and how much
we enjoyed them. Quite a number of school romances either started or
ended at the club on movie nights!
Many a pleasant warm Tuesday
& Friday night was spent here with good friends in soft tropical
breezes under the stars.
Creole (Lago Maracaibo)
Club - Pool From the Opposite End
And there's the mango tree that
used to sometimes dump mangos on us as we watched the movies ! That
tree appeared to be full-grown when we were there, so I wonder how old
it is now. Also, notice the improved gazebo-like roofs over the covered
areas in the back next to the snack bar. Before, the roof covering this
area used to just consist of simple, continuous, slightly-angled corrugated
metal. It looked good and it worked well, but it certainly wasn't as
attractive as these new roofs are.
A number of new high-rise apartments
now overlook the Club from a distance. I found that the area around
the club had changed quite dramatically with new homes and buildings
- so much so that I actually found it difficult to drive around because
so many of the old identifying features and landmarks had changed from
the '60's. The empty fields across the street from the club entrance
are now filled with housing. Many of the older CREOLE
camp homes are gone, replaced with newer homes or apartment buildings.
It was pretty much the same trying to find my way around the rest of
Maracaibo as well. If it hadn't been for that "big dip" on
Cecilio Acosta between the club and the school, both would have been
considerably harder to find.
Putting Out Chairs For Tuesday
I was fortunate enough to have
visited the Club on a Tuesday during my visit, and, as has been done
so many times in the years before, lawn chairs were being set up for
the Tuesday Night Movies. To me, it was pretty exciting to see
again after so many years.
On the right, you can
see the new building that contains the fancy new “Los Cristales”
restaurant, a ballroom, and a children's outdoor playground. Behind
and to the right of the fellow with the chairs (in line with the big
bush) is the Club entrance, which is now pretty heavily guarded.
I also noticed that the red and
white floor tiles in the movie seating area that all of us walked over
countless times in the past were still the same ones that have been
there since 1929. It's somehow reassuring to know that we can occasionally
find some things in life that don't seem to change.
It's significant that
Marcos Salom, the former Chairman of the Board of the club, tells me
that this floor was restored in 2001, and afterwards, it was declared
a "historical patrimony" of the club so that future generations
will recognize its importance as being the only part of the club that's
left today from the original 1929 club construction. Because of this
important recognition, this wonderful floor should be around for us
to walk on again for many years to come.
This wouldn't be complete without
a shot of Mi Vaquita
! It's still as popular as ever. By 1995, the bar had gone for a "high-tech"
look with a wide screen TV and an impressive sound system. So they've
managed to keep up with the times. At the time that I visited, exchange
rates were unfavorable, things were a bit expensive, and an average
dinner (May 1995) cost about $40-$50 /person. However, I last heard
some time ago that an average dinner costs about $10-$15/person.
Remember that this picture was taken in 1995, so I'm sure that prices
have changed many times since then, particularly considering the severe
economic problems and political upheaval that Venezuela has suffered