What can happen at the traffic light in Costa Rica?
Stopping at a traffic light in Costa Rica can bring a lot of surprises, driving is different. A traffic light in Costa Rica creates a surprising business center. A traffic light is a great place to try to sell you something or beg for money. Because there is nowhere to go but wait for the light to go green.
And once it does turn green, there might be someone blocking the intersection. It takes me up to 15 minutes to get past the traffic light down on my street. I’m convinced the Costarican government doesn’t allow much time for the green light on purpose so you can be visited by all those people trying to make a living or raise funds for some charity.
Most traffic light workers are nice when rejected and you might even get a blessing or two. Here and there, you might hit on a nasty one, though that hardly ever happens.
In Costa Rica, we do not have welfare, so if you have to feed the babies, you either become a traffic light salesperson or a traffic light criminal. So, when you drive a car alone, NEVER put your valuables like a computer or a handbag on the seat next to you. If you do, you might be surprised by someone who breaks your window to grab the bag or computer while waiting at a traffic light. Not that it happens everywhere, but just play it safe and put your belongings out of sight.
You will be surprised about the incredible inventory of the merchandise are that you will be offered at a traffic light in Costa Rica.
Mango sele is green mango. They sell them in small bags with salt. I personally don’t like it much, but my little sister Charlotte would eat them until her stomach would hurt.
Pejibaye is generally cooked in a large pan on the side of the road. The Pejibaye is a small fruit that looks like a small coconut, please don’t try to eat it uncooked. It is generally served as a snack or in a salad with a little bit of mayonnaise on it.
Bags of sorted fruits
Some days they will sell you a bag with 4 melons, other days they will offer a bag with 3 mangoes. Mostly its fruits that they offer, but you will find some that sell vegetables at the traffic light too.
Flags and soccer shirts
You will find flags, hats and soccer shirts sold at traffic lights on Saturdays and Sundays. Especially when there is a soccer final. The national flag of Costa Rica is always well sold when Costa Rica plays a soccer game in a world cup and during Independence Day.
Where in other countries they have newspaper stands, in Costa Rica, we have people selling newspapers every morning at the traffic lights. If you are behind someone buying a newspaper, keep in mind that they won’t react to your honking when the light turns green.
Cell phone accessories
You cannot find a cover for your cell phone or you need a new charger? Don’t despair, you will find them at a traffic light!
Other stuff for sale
I’ve seen watches, umbrellas, flowers, chewing gum and all kinds of food products for sale at the traffic light.
Most are jugglers are foreigners and they try to earn some money traveling from country to country. They juggle balls, hoops, fireballs, knives or swords and you will find them on corners with a traffic light in San Jose mostly.
The windshield washers
You don’t see those windshield washers very often in Costa Rica. What they do is smear mud on your window and you will need to pay them to hose it off again.
Hogares Crea and others
Hogares Crea, the Salvation Army, drug addicts, alcoholics, people in a wheelchair, handicapped and actors you’d think are a cripple beg for money at the traffic lights.
Selling at traffic lights does not only happen in Costa Rica, it is a way of life in many third world countries as this photo below shows how many peddlers you see in Port Au Prince- Haiti.
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