My preferred way of helping people out is not to go through organized charities, but to give directly to the person or persons who are selling their products on the streets. I've bought toothbrushes, pens, fruit, vegetables and still warm chorreadas (thin corn pancakes) from vendors.
I enjoy the face to face interaction, get to practice a bit of Spanish, and meet the locals.
Today, a basket man came through our neighborhood with his homemade baskets. Our roads are quite steep in places so he was working hard carrying the pole loaded with baskets over his shoulders. He called out in Spanish what he had for sale, stopped at our gate and yelled "upe, upe" - the polite way of asking if the homeowner will come out.
According to Jack Donnelly, of Inside Costa Rica, "upe" comes from Nicoya, Guanacaste province, where people would make themselves known as benevolent visitors by saying, "Nuestra Señorita (Señor) la Virgen de Guadalupe". It was shortened over time to just the last syllable, upe. Presumably no evil doer would dare utter this holy name before assaulting a household.
|Our basket vendor|
|The two baskets we bought. A good size - about 16" diameter.|