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Pioneer Spirit

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

I recently enjoyed an experience a long, long way from my familiar surroundings in southern California that nonetheless had me feeling right at home.

A few weeks back, I had the distinct pleasure of flying to Central America to visit watershaper Juan Roca in his homeland of Costa Rica. It was a classic mixing of business with pleasure: I’d never been there and had no idea what to expect, but to say I was blown away is something of an understatement.

On the pleasure side of the journey, Costa Rica is among the most welcoming, soulful and beautiful places I’ve ever been. I’d heard for years, of course, that the country is “hot” for vacations, investments and emigration, and I now viscerally understand the appeal: From the beaches and the jungles to the small villages populated by friendly, open-hearted people, it’s obvious that this place belongs (and will stay) on the world’s “desirability” radar for years to come.

For all that, what impressed me most was the working side of my trip and the job my host is doing of blazing a bold trail in his homeland. Currently the only custom pool builder in the entire country after having retooled his mid-line business to aim at the country’s growing upper class, Roca’s creativity and persistence are winning him an increasing number of projects that enable him to display the sophistication needed to work with top architects in providing dramatic watershapes for affluent clients.

From my perspective, it was fascinating to spend time with someone who is literally defining his own market. Even more remarkable is that fact that Roca isn’t ego-driven or bent on self-glorification. Rather, he’s a distinctly modest guy who is genuinely motivated by a desire to create works of watershaping art.

His own words tell the story (click here), and he hangs lots of detail on the outline I’ve provided here. What’s most important to add to his account – basically because Roca himself would be too modest to make the point on his own behalf – is the overriding observation that his is a story of creative ambition fueled, nurtured, released and continuously inspired by professional education. The passion and heart he brings to his quest for knowledge stands, I believe, as an inspiring example for all who seek to elevate their own work.

When you place that energy and focus in a setting as glorious as Costa Rica, of course, the story becomes almost poetic. Time after time, he showed me vanishing edges flowing into views of jungle or seascapes and wonderful materials he’s used to harmonize his work with the setting or surrounding structures.

He’s quick to say that his best projects are still ahead of him, but in the meantime, his professional growth is apparent with every new project. As we again flip the calendar, gather wool and look to the future, it seems to me there’s something profound to be gained from visiting with an idealist caught in the moment of pursuing a dream.

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From all of us at WaterShapes, we wish you all the happiest of holidays and a most glorious New Year.

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