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Connecting with Carlos

Connecting with Carlos

June 29, 2016

Authored on June 21, 2016, by Bridges to Prosperity volunteer Kelley Rockett, a human resources professional in the CH2M Denver, Colorado office.

CarlosMy story today is about Carlos, a Nicaraguan foreman employed by Bridges to Prosperity [fun fact: the La Brisa bridge is CH2M’s 5th volunteer bridge build, Carlos was also the construction foreman on the first CH2M bridge build in La Conga, Panama in June 2014]. Carlos first caught my attention on Sunday while driving to the build because he was, ironically, wearing a Colorado t-shirt. As we have the past two mornings and, I imagine, will each day forward, we were woken around 4 a.m. as the very vocal roosters and squealing pigs made their way through camp announcing the arrival of morning with the sun coming up before 5 a.m. He happened to wear that t-shirt again today and Lesly, one of our two Spanish speakers, shared just before breakfast at 6 a.m. this morning that I would like a photo with him in his t-shirt. Fortunately, he was receptive to my request with the smile I had seen many times on his face already. Carlos seemed like a very kind, hard-working, and knowledgeable man from the start, and I can see why he is a foreman.

Carlos hard at work (with CH2M's Paul McKay).

Carlos hard at work (with CH2M’s Paul McKay).

Not only did I get my photo with him but I also volunteered to join him up high on the scaffolding on the far side of the river to secure timber to the top of it to assist with raising the towers. I shared with him that “Solamente hablo espanol un poco” (“I speak only a little Spanish”) and he very gently corrected me, yet again with that smile on his face and nearly pinched fingers saying, “Un pocito.” I got quite the chuckle out of this as he was absolutely right. He asked if I understood Spanish when spoken “mas despacio” (slowly) and I eagerly nodded, and laughed some more. We shared some basics about each other as we tied wire around the very tops of the scaffold where the timber was placed. I thoroughly enjoyed this interaction and it was my first moment here where I felt that I was connecting with a local. Yay! Even better was the fact that he was teaching me through that whole experience – Spanish words and how to complete the task-at-hand. It is so very true that this is not about us going and doing for these people in La Brisa, and my time with Carlos confirmed that reality.

As we finished our work, the rain began to fall. Carlos shared with me the Spanish word for rain…but I do not remember it now because what stuck with me is how much I enjoyed being up there with him getting to do such a simple yet fun task up so high seeing the gorgeous mountains all around us and having a perfect view of the bridge build site. I didn’t have my camera on me (nor could I have gotten to it with my harness on), but it is a moment I will always remember – the feel of the harness, the height at which we worked, the interaction with this local, the irony that he is the one who wore a t-shirt from my home state, all the opportunities of getting to know these people on my team, and being a part of something so unique and memorable. IMG-20160701-WA0014_1467736035681

I have had the pleasure of typing up this blog with spectators – boys sitting next to me watching me type on a laptop in a community with no electricity. I have asked my new friends to type their names here on the computer – Ervin, Dixon and Cristopher. Any day doesn’t get much better than that!

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