When we lived in Mexico City, a city of about 40 million people, we spent a lot of time in traffic. We lived in the north of the city and several of our friends lived in the south of the city. It was only 30 miles as the crow flies, but on more than one occasion it took 4 hours to make the voyage one way. Once we spent 2 hours in virtual grid lock creeping the vast distance of 3 city blocks. Traffic is thick.
Because we could never be certain how long we would be trapped in the car, we always brought along water and snacks. I called it our survival box. We even taught our kids how to pee in the empty water bottle when Nature Called. If we ever ran out of snacks and water, there was plenty available for purchase just outside our air-conditioned bubble. As we waited in traffic, vendors would walk up and down the highway selling things window to window. We could buy bottles of water, frozen juice treats, sandwiches, bags of nuts or fried plantains, mints and gum, cigarettes (not us, but others might want that), newspapers, a map, or a prepaid phone card! Sometimes those vendors were a real life saver!
Here in Costa Rica we are not plagued with such horrendous traffic and hence, we are less desperate. There have only been a handful of times that we have sat in traffic for an obnoxious length of time. But each time I looked around wishing for the little old ladies selling bottles of water, and I missed them. Here vendors sell anything they can get their hands on, but not necesarily things a person would NEED while camping out in their car for an hour.
If you are trapped in your car and you need a bra strap, a wallet, or super glue, then a Costa Rican street vendor is your go-to guy. If you’re hankering for an inflatable Hello Kitty doll or an ipod screen cover, a scratched pair of sun glasses, or a ball point pen you know where to go. Sure we do have some folks who sell the fried plantains, individual cough drops and cigarettes. But sometimes I would like to ask the vendors to sell something that I actually NEED while I’m in my car. On the other hand, I will be home in less than 20 minutes so I guess my needs are not critical while I’m waiting in traffic.