(For an enlarged view, just click on any of the photos for more detail).
Front Entry of EBV
The front entrance to EBV
taken during my visit in 1995. I recall the first time that I
saw it in 1963, driving up to it with my parents, straight off
the plane, when I was first registered at the school after just
having arrived in Maracaibo for the very first time. I started
school the very next day. The trees are bigger and the shrubbery
has changed somewhat, but the front façade of the building
hadn't changed a bit. It had remained just as I had always remembered
The Outdoor Auditorium
Those of us who graduated at EBV well remember practicing here for the Commencement exercises. In those years, EBV only went up to the 9th grade. Commencement was always held once a year in the evening and was, of course, a BIG occasion! We also used to hold Christmas programs here in which all the students participated. It was always so warm in the evenings all throughout the year, and I remember that the Christmas robes could sometimes get uncomfortably hot. But that never stopped us from putting on a great show!
I've been told by Guy Cooper, a website visitor, that this whole area has now been roofed over and has completely changed. All of it is now indoors, with air-conditioning, big comfortable seats, a stage, a sound system, etc. So in essence, it no longer exists in the form shown here. I realize that that's progress, and the changes are certainly a big improvement over what we see here. But to me, it's a bit sad to know it's no longer there under the wide open skies.
I still have my EBV
graduation ring safely stashed away, by the way. Every now and then,
I'll remove it from the small box I keep it in, remembering all the
great times and all the wonderful people I knew there. The ring
is an inexpensive one, and graduating from the 9th grade - junior
high - may perhaps be considered to be, in retrospect, no big deal
today. But I can tell you that today that ring means as much to me
as my high school, college, and grad school rings do that I earned
This is the soccer field in the back of the school, still very much as we left it. All of the lovely little homes by the fence line in the back, which is where I used to live (Colonia Mazzei), are, sadly, gone now. I understand that the owner, Mr. Mazzei, or one of his sons, razed them all so that he could put up a large shopping center. So much for historical preservation. But I was told that the project was stopped by Maracaibo municipal authorities because of the “historical value” of some of the large old trees that were located on the property that were not allowed to be removed.
I can't completely verify if this is indeed the reason the development was halted. Nor do I know what year the homes were torn down, but in 1995 the entire street right behind the school (Calle 3E or F?), where all of those lovely homes, with their quaint red-tiled roofs, used to be - including the home in which I lived - was, by 1995, one big fenced-in, rubble-strewn empty lot with a few scattered trees, and nothing had been done to replace it. Perhaps today it has finally been cleared and the land has been used for something productive.
What I wouldn't do or pay to be able to go back in time for a few days to relive a few of those times once again, to recapture that innocence of youth that we all shared, and to once again experience some of those wonderful days. But perhaps our inability to do so is one of the things that makes the memories of those days so special.
Colonia Mazzei, as it once was
Our former home in Colonia Mazzei
One of the last shots we took of the house before we finally left Maracaibo in 1968.
The “Teacher's Apartments”
As long as we're on the subject of “What's Not There Anymore”......... remember the “Teacher's Apartments” on Calle 3G? They were called the “Teacher's Apartments” because it's where many, if not most, of the EBV teachers (and others) used to live. The apartments are still there, but as you can see, they're abandoned, fenced off, trashed out, and in ruins. My assumption is that, with all the new buildings going up, these apartments just couldn't compete. They were somewhat old even back then, and there was no central air-conditioning - only window units if you had them. I'm told that most of the EBV teachers now live closer to the school in what used to be the Colonia Shell, or thereabouts, in considerably newer and nicer apartments today.
I must admit that I was saddened to see them in in this state as it was such a vibrant place years ago. All of the teachers lived there, as did a good friend and classmate of mine. One of my best friends lived diagonally across the street from the apartments. I even had an Italian girlfriend for awhile that lived there. So I used to visit or see these apartments almost every day. Someday they'll be torn down and replaced with something new when economic conditions are right. It's in a residential area, so perhaps some day it will be replaced with a beautiful new apartment building.
We all had so many good, hard-working, dedicated
teachers at EBV. Of course, at the time,
they were just “teachers” to us back then. It was only
later, as we grew up, that we were able to realize the significant
influence that some of them had on us. It'd be nice to be able to
go back and let them know this now, but, of course, through the
years, I've lost track of them. But I do occasionally hear from
one of them, or one of them will sign the guestbook, and when I
hear from one of them, I'm always happy to be able to add them to
the alumni list.
Calle 3G was “Gringo Street”
where many Americans used to live. This is one of two views showing
Calle 3G today with all the new high-rise buildings. A few of the
nice homes that were there back then are still there today, but
it's changed so much that I felt as if I was driving down some other
street. It didn't seem to be the same street that it once was. Much
of that is undoubtedly due to the fact that there's considerably
more traffic traveling down the street now than there ever used
Looking the opposite direction down Calle
3G, towards Avenida Cecilio Acosta. The corner of 3G & Cecilio
Acosta now has a considerable number of residential high-rise apartment
buildings. Traffic on 3G, once a quieter residential sub-street, is
now about as heavy as it is on Cecilio Acosta.
Faith Baptist Church
Faith Baptist Church is still there as
seen in this view taken through the car windshield. It's hard to
believe, but today, right next door to it (to the right of this
view), there's a large CADA supermarket. The street
has become considerably more commercialized than it was, and the
“quiet residential street” feel of it is gone now. So
many of the original homes that were once there have been replaced
with newer homes, apartments, or commercial buildings.
According to a Guestbook entry dated Oct. 19, 2008 from the Rev.
James Newman, who was pastor at the church from 1961- 1964, this
church building was erected in 1963. He writes, “The structural
steel was entirely fabricated wiith retired drill stem and sucker
rod donated by several companies, three companies contributed the
use of a welding machine and welder on three separate days. That
part was completed in just those few days! Another company helped
us with the steeple. A number of players from the Chicago White
Sox played winter ball in Maracaibo; most of them and their families
attended church with us. When we were ready to move the old wicker
and iron chairs into the sanctuary, they showed up at the church
and refinished all the furniture! So everything really shined on
our first day.
“Faith Baptist Church now goes by the name of Iglesia
Bautista la Fé, and is a thriving Venezolano congregation.”
The Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club
We return again to the Club. This is another shot of the movie screen at the Creole Club taken from another angle across the swimming pool. It was so easy to once again picture it in the dark with a movie running across the screen and the palm tree fronds & mango tree leaves around it slowly waving and rustling in the soft breezes of a warm tropical night. Although daytime temperatures were often uncomfortably hot, nights were always pleasant, usually with temperatures in the low to mid-70s.
I remembered how we all used to scramble to the covered area in the back when it suddenly rained during a movie. The rains were infrequent and never lasted long, but they could sometimes be pretty strong, often making so much noise on the metal roof that covered the back area that it was hard to hear the movie soundtrack.
I also recalled the occasional lightning storms
that could often be seen in the near distance over Lake Maracaibo.
Known as “Catatumbo Lightning”, it's named for
the silent lightning storms that occur over the Catatumbo delta
region, often referred to as the “Lighthouse of Maracaibo”
(El Farol de Maracaibo). The light storms could often be
quite spectacular, with sheet lightning filled with branched lightning
flashing across the sky. But the lightning never brought any rain.
The Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club
Another view of the movie screen looking
towards the club offices, which have been remodeled. The large patio
up by the offices, where we used to occasionally sit around with
a record player listening to all the latest 45-RPM “Top 100”
hits from the States while eating tequeños, is gone. The
front door to the club is towards the left of this view. Security
getting into the club is much more stringent today, with a large
glassed-in booth and a guard sitting behind the glass checking the
club ID of everyone who walks in the door. Years ago there frequently
was nobody at the gate except during movie nights
- even then, the guard would usually disappear once the movie began
- and only occasionally during the weekend.
The Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club
The Snack Bar where we all used to sneak
Polar beers.....er, I mean...drink Cokes....during the Tuesday
and Friday night movies is to the right in this view. The tequeños
we would get here for 2 Bs were great as well. The Snack Bar is still
there, and it was great to see it again after all these years. Now,
what was the name of the heavyset fellow who used to stand behind
the Snack Bar and serve all of us? For the life of me, I can't remember!
Also behind the Snack Bar was a barbershop. Mario, the Italian barber,
once asked me if there were still a lot of gangsters in Chicago! At
that time, The Untouchables was a big hit TV series.
I didn't actually notice during the time of my visit whether or not
the barbershop is still there.
“The” Creole Club Mango Tree
Here's a good, clear view of the mango tree
that often used to occasionally drop mangos on us during the movies
when the season was right! Or maybe it happened all year long - can't
really recall. Anyway, it happened to me not once, but twice during
the 5½ years that I went to movies there. And yes....they did indeed
smart a bit! Amazing how large, solid, and heavy a fully-grown mango
can get! The tree now has a protective concrete planter around the
base - or was it there back then?
Restaurante Los Cristales at the Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club
This was a difficult shot to
digitize because of the high-contrast exposure, and it's not very clear.
But it's enough to give a general idea of what the inside of the Los
Cristales restaurant at the Club looks like. As you can see, it
offers a great view that overlooks the whole Club, including the pool.
I'm happy to report that the arepas, empanadas, and tequeños with that
great cheese with its unique flavor are as good as they always used
Salon Palma Real at the Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club
This is the stage area of the Salon Palma
Real ballroom at the Club. It's located between the restaurant
and the front door of the Club. It's much nicer than anything that
ever existed at the Club before when many of us lived there, occupying
the site of the old “ballroom” that used to exist. It
was great to see the wonderful improvements in this area, but it
was also a bit sad to know that the old ballroom, where we used
to have such great parties, often with a live band (remember Los
Jaguares?) - many of which I still clearly remember - is now
The Creole (Lago Maracaibo) Club Tennis Courts
All of us spent many happy hours on the tennis courts. The surface is nicely surfaced and graded, and appeared to have been recently repainted. The green walls around the court looked fairly new, except that they're now about half the height that they used to be. Before the big movie screen was built (before my time), the movies used to be shown here, projected against one of the high walls.
Overall, the condition of the courts appeared
to be somewhat better today than they were in the past. It was really
wonderful to see that the Club had been improved and appeared to be
very nicely maintained. Club membership is not inexpensive, but it's
evident that membership dues are being well spent in club maintenance.
The “Snake Pit” at the Hotel del Lago
Even the “Snake Pit” at the
Hotel del Lago has modernized with a “High Tech” look.
It's been enclosed with dark glass, so it's no longer possible to
see who's in the bar by simply peering over the wall from the lobby
like before. Perhaps that's better. The purple neon lights add a
nice touch. Again, this was taken in 1995, and I can only
assume that it still looks the same today since this shot was taken.
But I know that it'll eventually change again as time, tastes, and
The Lobby at the Hotel del Lago
This are views of the Hotel del Lago lobby. In the first photo, the dark glass walls enclosing the Snake Pit can be seen on the right. The Reception Desk is left of center (see 2nd shot also), in the same area where they used to be located, and behind the columns right of center are shops. Farther to the right, not visible in the shot, and further back, is a bank of two elevators. These elevators go to the tower rooms as well as to the other rooms in the opposite wing. There are quite a few more shops beyond the Reception Desk than there used to be. The old bookstore/gift shop owned by the Sweeneys, where we used to buy American books, magazines, and the Miami Herald every Sunday after church, is gone, replaced by other shops. There is another magazine shop, but it didn't seem to have quite the great variety of magazines that Sweeney's shop once did.
To many of us, this hotel was “home”
for us when we first came to and when we finally left Maracaibo.
So many great parties were held at this hotel, including all of
the large school proms every year, and most of the school Christmas
parties. The Hotel del Lago will always
hold a unique and special place, I believe, in the hearts of us
As with the first page, I'm ending this second
page with views of Mi Vaquita. This shot is a combination of
two pictures, one showing the old familiar Mi Vaquita neon
sign outside the restaurant, the other showing the entrance door with
the carved wood steer and logo backdrop wall and the framed menu posted
in the left of the 2nd picture. The steaks here were as good as I
used to remember them. Once again, it's nice to know that at least
some things have remained the same through the years.
If you have any vintage photographs of your years in Maracaibo and would like to share them with those who visit these pages, please contact me . I'd be very happy to review them with you so that they can be added to the “Photo Sharing” page that I've developed for this site, consisting exclusively of photographs from visitors like you. Many of us would absolutely love to see some of your vintage photos and share the good memories with you. Full credit will be given to you for any photos that you submit, as well as an E-Mail link to your address if you'd like one. You can either scan the images yourself or I'd be happy to scan the originals for you, whereupon they'll be promptly returned.
EBV's official Web pages are located at the following address:
Well, if you lasted this long through all those photos, then I'd tend to believe that perhaps you really are an ex-“Maracucho” too! If so, then I truly hope that these photos were as special to you as they were to me when I took them, and that you were able to travel back in time and space, if only for a short while. Life was good there, and we shared our growing lives there together with so many good friends. So if you once lived there and have enjoyed this trip back in time, please drop me a line. Let me know your address if you're interested in being included in the list. I'll be happy to E-Mail you a copy of the list if you request it, and hopefully, as a result, an old, long-lost friend will once again find you and get back in touch with you. Just click on the E-Mail icon below:
Chuck “Charlie” Clausen
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