Mixing with the Mercedes and BMWs are carts of every description in the capital. These carts are a tradition centuries old and date from the time when the price of gasoline was not a factor. See our story:
Men who check out the trash to recycle generally decorate their carts with unusual items[/caption]Carretas in Costa Rica come in many shapes and sizes that range from a bicycle with a basket affixed at the front to refrigerated systems on wheels. There are even large wooden buggies with wheelbarrow-style handles.
These manpowered machines serve the same purpose as large trucks, to deliver goods to clients. However, it is done with more convenience and ease, said local cart pushers.
In the case of Edwin Rodrigo, a citizen from Alajuelita, it is a way to bring the farmer’s market to the home. He travels from his dwelling to San José where he keeps his cart. Once there, he loads it with fresh goods like bananas, strawberries, avocados, onions, green beans and pineapples, and pushes it to different parts of the city.
Rodrigo follows a weekly schedule. He comes to Barrio Aranjuez on Wednesdays. Residents have become accustomed to his visits. At the sight of the man and the cart, neighbors come to the doors waving money and lists. Rodrigo fills the order quickly.
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Javier Altamirana specializes in cold drinks
Those walking by purchase fresh coconuts. Rodrigo machetes off the top and places a straw inside so the customer can enjoy the natural water. Once finished, he chops the fruit open and cuts off a small piece from the outer shell so the person can eat the meat.
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Everything is sold at a different price, he explains, depending on what the item is and how much he paid for it before so he can make a profit.
A few streets away Javier Altamirana cuts the top off a coconut and pours the liquid into a container. With a juicer attached to his cart, he can fill a plastic glass with orange juice or simply pour coconut milk for anyone at the price of 400 colons, about 80 cents.
Although he serves both drinks, his favorite is orange juice, he said.
Altamirana, who lives in Barrio México, is a unique vendor in that he is the only one in the area with his type of equipment selling juice, he said. His vehicle is a bicycle with a metal ice box unit on the front that keeps the beverages cold.
These men have their own routes, but they are not alone in the streets. A man with an elaborately adorned cart carries and sorts through trash on the street. Persons pedal deliveries to downtown markets, bars and restaurants.
Also, vendors with ice cream treats travel around ringing a bell to let community members know they are near.
However, according to Rodrigo, there are fewer carts in the street than before, and the numbers are declining. Still, he pushes on with a smile, keeping the tradition alive for now.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="460"]A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
All sorts of muscle-powered whee led vehicles can be found on the streets of the nation’s cities.