Memories of the past come to me frequently when I experience something that reminds me of back home. Memories to me are a frozen piece of time of time that remains with you for the rest of your life. Experiences, objects, people or feelings either good or bad, sometimes we wish we could forget them or never think about them again but in my case most of my fondest memories make me think of a time in which I lived in Venezuela, a much simpler time were as I soon found out life was a more complex mechanism which I did not remotely began to understand.
Looking back at my childhood I have noticed that growing up in Venezuela can be tough on any person if that person does not have a family that loves him or her and friends that care, because even the poor with the right state of mind plus family and friends to keep him or her on the right track improving oneself in the social and economical standings is not an impossible thing to do.
The biggest example of this is my mom Carmen, raised by my grandfather Pepe who came from Spain after the Spanish Civil War with basically nothing in his pocket. He (my grandfather) worked hard to provide food, a good home and an education for his family, living in “LaVega” which is a “Barrio” in Caracas, not the nicest neighborhood to live in. My mom studied hard to better herself and soon graduated from the best university in Caracas, later to move to Maracaibo (the city were I was born and raised) to work for PDVSA, the biggest oil company in Venezuela, she now works for BP as an metallurgical engineer but what I am trying to relate is that when you are a kid, you are not aware of your surroundings and how they might affect you, in the early parts of my childhood we (my parents and I ) lived in an apartment in a not so nice part of the city, I had friends from the building and we used to play soccer all the time sometimes even barefooted, that should tell you how the situation was, but back them I did not think of that at all, I did not think about if we were poor, all I cared about was to have fun with my friends, instances like these make me appreciate the things that I have and how lucky I really am.
The next important thing that happened in my life was that my parent got divorced, from then on my dad visited me very week. Right after that happened my mom began to move higher up in PDVSA (the oil company) and she began to earn a high wage which enable her to buy a house in the good part of the city, also she enlisted me in “El Colegio Aleman de Maracaibo” which translated means “the German school of Maracaibo”, a private school, there my best memories of my childhood would take place and some of the best friends I would have, I would meet them there.
If you want to get a good or decent education in Venezuela private schools are the way to go, middle to upper class sent their children to private schools because basically public schools in Venezuela don’t work, the government does not provide adequate instructors, facilities or materials. Going to “El Colegio Aleman de Maracaibo” was the best thing that could have happened to me. Beginning first with the education, the thing that helped me out the most was that in that school you were required to learn how to speak English and German which as you might see was a huge benefit to my development and to my integration into later parts of life.
Second soccer was a big deal with me and my classmates so being and playing for the school soccer team was my favorite thing to do, another bonus that the soccer team had was that there I met my two best friends Servando and Carlos Roberto and together we played against the rivals schools making me very happy, but not only we played but our coaches were top class and they tough us many different techniques and life lessons or values that stayed with me even today. Soccer was our main attention playing it were ever we could and with whatever we could find cans of coke, paper balls etc… but not only we did that we played baseball and swam whenever possible, I can really say that those were the fun nest years of my life.
Another aspect of living in Venezuela that I miss was seeing my dad every week, my dad is an art teacher for “Mater Salvatoris” an Italian private school in the morning and in the afternoon he worked for another school which on Wednesdays he would come pick me up and we would go to the school were he taught at and he would also teach me the fundamentals of art, I would say I got my talents in the art field from him and going to his classes helped me develop artistic skills more advanced than any of my classmates which later led me to win several prices on competitions when I was a kid. Looking back at those times makes me think of my dad and the fun times we used to have together or just quality time was good to me. The of the hardest thing I have had to do, was to in the future leave my dad behind, when later my mom and I would move to Texas.
Overall living in Venezuela back then was a paradise to me, I had everything I could ever imagine and want with me, a nice house, a good schools, my parents and all of my family but all of that was about to change. In the year 1998 Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela and from that point on everything took a turn for the worse.
Right from the beginning my mom sense that something bad was going to happen, at the time I could have not imagined how the election of one man could cause such pain and suffering in the future. As I said before with the election of Chavez as president my mom decided that it was time to move out of the country because things were going to worsen fast, so in a year she did find a job with BAYER (a German company) and she decided that her and I would start a new life in Katy, Texas.
At the time I did not know what to think of moving to another country when everything in Venezuela to me seemed great when the reality was otherwise, my friends told me that the US was “really cool” and that I would love it, so I made up my mind and left Venezuela and moved to the United States with my mom, leaving all my family behind, my dad and friends. Leaving all those things behind was really tough on me the first few years but their absence made me mature fast, I learned how to speak English fluently, made friends with other Venezuelan kids who went to school with me and began to enjoy living in the US.
A few years removed from the time I moved I started to see why my mom wanted to come to the US, Venezuela got worse and worse with each passing year and still is today.
Life in Venezuela compared to the US is very different, Venezuela is a third world country, that means that most of the people are lower middle class or just poor but poor in Venezuela means basically living in cardboard boxes, lots of beggars plague the streets and children steal. This situation is due to the corrupt manner of the government which only seems to care about themselves not the people, which makes for limited opportunities in job seeking. In the US everything is basically better, the education systems, the roads, jobs there is really no comparison, it is just sad how an oil country like Venezuela which should have more than enough money to basically turn things around can’t because of the greed of a few “elite” persons.
Living in Venezuela taught me a lot of things but the memories of the people and events that happened there will stay with me forever.