39 Years Later
Arriving in Maracaibo
On Becoming a V.I.P.
When I arrived in Maracaibo, it was dark by
then since it was around 7:30 pm. The airport was kind of glum
but I soon took off in a cab to the Hotel del Lago.
When I got there, the man at the Reception said, you have go
over there and those ladies will take care of you because you
are a “Usted es un (incomprehensible)”. I asked
him to repeat because I wasn't getting it. Then I finally understood
that I was considered a “V.I.P.” Well, that's the
first time in my life I've ever been considered a V.I.P. and
I want you to know that I appreciate that. Any time anyone else
wants to consider me as such, it's fine with me. When I got
up to my room on the 10th floor overlooking the lake and everything
worth being overlooked (pool, gardens and so on), I saw a nice
basket of fruit on the table with a note from the Manager. “Dear
Mrs. McClelland, A very warm welcome home!!! I sincerely hope
that you will enjoy your trip down 'Memory Lane'. If there is
anything I can do to make your visit more pleasurable-please
contact me. Sincerely, Tony Sawyer”. That's as nice a
reception I'll ever want to get.
Planning My Stay in Maracaibo
Well, this is the first day in Maracaibo and
it's cloudy, which is probably a good thing because maybe I'll
not die from the heat quite so much. Anyway, I've been talking
to many people trying to find out what I could do. The ladies
in charge of the V.I.P. are finding out how much it is going
to cost to get a cab to go around Maracaibo. Then I want to
go to the Creole Club but they found
out you have to have someone sign for you at the gate so they
were looking into that. I finally went into this shop and saw
some Guajiro cushion covers or pillow covers or whatever and
started talking to the lady and telling her why I was there
and all this stuff. Then she offered to call up her brother-in-law
who happens to be a member of the Creole Club
(really now called the Lago Maracaibo Club).
We called up and now it's all fixed up so all I have to do is
go there and so I'm on my way to my old house and to the Creole
Club and a bunch of other stuff, I don't know.
I haven't made up my mind exactly what I want to do today but
that is a priority and then we'll see. O.K.
Here I am in the evening after having gone
with a cab. I have a new friend, a driver friend who is going
to take me all over the place. And so we struck out for the
Creole Club. As we went by, he said,
“Tough luck, they just knocked down the guest house that
used to be there” and so I thought, my goodness, the guest
house was here, hmmm. Where does that leave me for my house?
We didn't really know where to go because if the guest house
was gone...I really didn't remember it being there. Anyway I
said you need to go back to the clubhouse. So we went back to
the club house and I said. “Now, you leave the Clubhouse
on your left and go down, not the first block but the second
block, turn left and it's the second house on the right.”
So after much backing up and going around the
block and everything, we stopped at Number 36. That's a totally…the
house is quite changed. It's got a mango tree in the front like
we thought and it's got an extra room added onto it in the front
and that will throw you off. The place for parking the car is
the same and the porch in the back that was open is all walled
in. The front porch where you could come out of the house, had
been knocked off and they've put a new room there. Now you can
come out of the house directly from the dining room (that's
now the front door) which obviously you couldn't do when I lived
there. It's all turned around, you come out the back and you
can't get in the front, that's all gone. It makes you kind of
confused. I could have sworn there was an acacia tree there
(I know nothing about botany so this is just a wild guess on
the tree's name). I can't find that anymore, but there's another
tree in it's stead. Maybe I goofed up. Anyway. the mango tree
is there. I don't remember it being so far from the street.
Now I know; there was a wall around the house that obstructed
the view before. Now it's a fence that makes it look much bigger
since you can see through it. That's probably the right house.
It's Number 36 anyway.
So after that, the guy drops me off at the
club and I walk around and the clubhouse on the left is totally
different from the old one and it's new, so obviously I couldn't
identify anything there but the dance floor, which is a tile
floo,r is exactly the same floor that they used to have - THAT
I am positive of (from the original club back in the 40's or
30's for all I know. But it was just like that when I first
got to Maracaibo in 1947.) Then I go over to the swimming pool
they're totally remodeling. It's the same size pool: basically
it's the same pool, they're just putting mosaics on it to jazz
it up a little bit. The top that covered the baby pool was ripped
down (but I think that was ripped down a long time ago). Instead
of having a hedge fence, they've got a big wall around it. Everything's
got walls around it around here. Ce n'est pas vrai.
I looked around and took many pictures, then I went to the snack
place, they have a little café you can go into, and went
in and ordered a perro caliente, a Coca Light, and after that
coffee, because no way am I going to drink any kind of liquor
because it is too damned hot. Well, it wasn't too hot by noon.
Trying to Figure Out Where Everything Was
I got to thinking about that Guest Quarter
thing…Why in the world did he say they had just knocked
that down? I remember that there was a grove of trees between
the houses and the guest house. The trees weren't there any
more So, I'm thinking this is not normal. The houses that are
there in the trees' stead are new. I bet you the guest house
is right behind that so I want to have a look. And lo and behold
it WAS there, but the guest house has really changed looks because
in the olden days it didn't have air conditioning and it had
a balcony on it like the Casa del Gobierno
in Caracas does. Much more attractive, it looked much more colonial.
Now the balcony is all walled in. They just made it bigger because
now they have air conditioning. Anyway I don't know what is
is now. It's something else. But I'm sure that's what it is
it's a colonial building and it's in the right place as far
as I'm concerned. So that mystery has been solved. Then we went
around the block a couple of times and saw the house of the
Jéfe who I remember was some guy by the name of Shorty
something or other living there because he was the camp Jéfe.
Now it's some sort of school for kiddos in kindergarten. Anyway,
I knew where the camp fence used to be because even now they
haven't cut through there with a road. This guy (cab driver)
got me kind of screwed up telling me the guest house were the
oficinas. So I said let's go around the corner then I told him
the oficinas used to be over there.
Proximity of Everything
So we went over and it is kind of an L shaped
building and that is to me the oficina where Dad used to work.
building where Creole Dads used to work.
In fact all he had to do is walk a couple of
blocks to work. That was really lucky. So it was all just piled
up here in the same spot. I don't know if I would have liked
living in the same spot and along with the club and working
down the block. That means you'd live in about 200 square meters
and I wouldn't like that. So much for that. The tennis courts
meanwhile are the same.