When the skies rumble, no salesmanship is needed

They seem to pop up like mushrooms when the rain begins to fall. They are the umbrella vendors who seem to have as good a grip on the weather forecast as meteorologists.

No one in San José downtown should run the risk of getting wet if they have the 2,000 colons (about $4) that a disposable umbrella fetches.

The emphasis is on disposable because these street sale umbrellas are fragile. A little wind turns the 2,000-colon investment into an inside-out skeleton of wire spokes and frayed fabric.

The job of umbrella vendor will be pretty well full time from now until late November as the rainy season takes hold.

The job is particularly attractive to those who do not have their immigration papers in order. There seems to be a trend toward Haitian vendors.

The alternative to making a small investment is to wait out the storm under an overhang or a bus stop roof. That may be great for those quick showers, but the last six rain-soaked days were notable for the duration of the rain and sometimes hail.

Umbrellas of a much better grade are easily found in the upscale stores. A good one might cost 15,000 colons or about $30. Of course that is the one usually left in the taxi or under the restaurant chair.

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