Throughout Costa Rica, 274,000 people work on the street. They are exposed to rain, pollution, noise and other dangers such as assaults. Many have low academic levels preventing them from getting other jobs while others have high education but see opportunity in informal work.
Among the jobs found on the street are vendors, sweepers and drivers. Some sell items, ice cream or food they made and others work for the municipality. Still others find work through apps offering rides and food delivery.
Many vendors fear the Municipal Police who seize their goods and leave them without a way to provide for their families. One street sweeper recounted that although he works for the Municipality he faces risks. He has to run for cover when it rains and when he takes on extra shifts they are often in the red zone, where his work tools were once stolen.
Working on the street is not comfortable or safe. There are no bathrooms easily accessible. The workers face extreme weather, from heat to downpours, car smoke, and insults, yet 13% of the Costa Rican workforce works in this way. Some find a sense of community in the area where they work on the street. They know their clients well and enjoy the work.