Calabozo, Venezuela : The foremen bark out instructions in broken Spanish, saying "aqui" and "mas" as they direct crews to lay water pipes and smooth out cement. But on their lunch break, they switch into Farsi - the language of Iran.
Their Iranian company is building thousands of apartments for Venezuela's poor. Iran is also helping to build cars, tractors and bicycles in Venezuela and has opened new embassies in Bolivia and Nicaragua.
The deepening alliance between Iran and these left-led nations is based largely on antagonism to the United States, with both Iran's hardline leaders and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez consistently needling the US Government. But Iran's drive into Latin America also has practical motivations as a way to lessen its international isolation.
The most visible impact so far has been the arrival of Iranian businesses. The public housing project alone has brought more than 400 Iranian engineers and specialists to Venezuela, where many have learned basic Spanish.
"For us, it's very different, but we adapt quickly," said Ehsan Keyvanfar, a 29-year-old engineer on his first assignment outside Iran for Kayson Company, a Tehran-based construction business.
A supervisor with nearly fluent Spanish, Keyvanfar has adopted the nickname "Alejandro" to spare Venezuelans from trying to pronounce his name.
He and his wife, Sara, are accustomed to city life in Tehran and have struggled with the slow pace and isolation of Calabozo, a farming town of pickup trucks and rice silos in Venezuela's dusty southern plains. But Keyvanfar sees it as a hardship assignment that will advance his career and allow him to save money.
Keyvanfar says the reason for the relationship between Iran and Venezuela is simple: "I think the two presidents don't like the United States - that's the only thing."
Iran is courting Latin America's leftist bloc with active diplomacy, joint business projects and aid while gathering support for its much-criticised nuclear programme.
Nicaragua has received Iranian aid pledges for a dam and milk-processing plants, and is playing down US concerns about Iran's nuclear-weapon ambitions.
The public housing project alone has brought more than 400 Iranian engineers and specialists to Venezuela.