Once upon a time, there were three bricklayers.
When asked, “What are you doing?” the first bricklayer replied:
“I’m laying bricks.”
The second bricklayer was asked the same question. He answered:
“I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer, when asked the question “What are you doing?” responded, with pride in his voice:
“I’m building a cathedral.” – Parable

The parable of the three bricklayers came to mind as the personalities of a few of the builders at Lapazul Retreat Center emerge and get noticed.

Thirty workers working in unison, working in peace and working in gratitude. So our Project Manager, Christian keeps telling us. And it shows. They are mostly Costa Rican and some Nicaraguan. The Nicaraguans fled their country in search of more stability and employment. They are grateful to be employed and able to send money back to their families.

The work week begins on Monday morning at 7:30 am. You can hear the truck making its way up the mountain with the workers seated in the back holding on to the sides of the open truck. They’ve been on the road for over an hour already as most of them don’t live in the area. Seems that the work ethic of the workers from the coast is not equal to that of the ones from the south central city of San Isidro.

Nango, short for Fernando, takes his position as Master Builder and orchestrates the whole process. My husband and I quickly understood that nothing happens without Nango’s knowledge or permission. The workers are well trained and the rules are strictly enforced. If we need something, ask Nango. We asked the workers to do a couple of things for us and the first thing they said was, “Yes, of course but let me ask Nango”. They all respect him and heed to him.

Each building has its own supervisor. Our house has Jonathan. I had seen him working in our house. He was always a kind young man. The stairs were finally built to go to the second floor of the house. Previously, my husband had gone up the ladder but I wasn’t keen on that. During one of our inspection rounds, Marek notices a railing for the steps. “I hope that’s not the permanent railing!” Maybe it wasn’t the nicest piece of steel but I certainly appreciated it as it made going up the stairs a lot easier and safer. Finally, I could see the amazing views from the three bedrooms upstairs.

Later I found out that Jonathan had built the railing just for me. I was touched. What a kind and thoughtful gesture. Evidence of the care that he takes to ensure that our house is well built and the pride he takes in doing so.

Valentin may be the second most respected man on the site. He’s the cook. He’s in charge of feeding the group five times a day. He has “Buena cuchara” literally translated as “Good spoon”. In other words the workers are happy with his cooking abilities. Often Marek and I request breakfast or lunch. Tasty food to say the least. However, he serves us huge quantities. Great portions for the workers that are burning up all those calories everyday. We need to watch what we eat. He’s always smiling and more than happy to feed us.

Every morning we’re greeted by twenty year old Antony watering the lawn. He loves to chat and has lots of energy and questions too. He’s fun and super eager to do anything he’s asked to do. He’s part of the gardening team. He’s very curious about what we think of his and his bosses work. Not only have they planted beautiful plants and fruit trees but they’ve also carved out trails down the mountain and around the banana and plantain trees for the future guests to enjoy. We have nothing but good things to say. He smiles ear to ear.

Other workers go about their tasks quietly but always greet us when they pass us. Every one of them works hard. They stay on site until Friday at 4pm when they head back home for the weekend.

They may not be building a cathedral but everything in their actions indicates that in their mind they are. Marek and I are grateful for all that they do.