Street Vendor Gets Head Stuck in Gate While Yelling “Upe”

Costa Rican Fire department arrives at scene in record 4 hours


Robles’ songbird-like “Upe” calls were engulfed by the residence’s enchanted green ivy, he claimed.

SAN PEDRO — A polaco, or ambulatory street vendor, was rescued by the Montes de Oca Fire Department yesterday after his head was wedged between the bars of a residence while incessantly yelling the common Costa Rican greeting “Upe!” in an attempt to sell grasshoppers made of popsicle sticks.

Neitan Robles, a 47 year-old self-proclaimed artesan, was peddling the grasshoppers and handcrafted miniature stools near the Plaza Roosevelt in San Pedro when he leaned forward to yell “Upe” through the gate of a home. “Upe,” the call Ticos make when trying to get a person to come to the door or steel gate wrapped in coiled razor wire, is often yelled repeatedly until acknowledged. When Robles did not receive an immediate reply, he stretched his neck further through the portón to better project his voice and continued yelling “Upe” louder and louder for several minutes, according to witnesses.

“It was impressive really,’’ said Daisy Uvalde, a neighbor who said she bought one of Robles’s grasshoppers last year so that he would cease his relentless sales pitch. “It was clear his head was stuck and he just kept yelling. Even the zaguates stopped barking at him after he yelled a good 150 times.’’

After nearly 15 minutes, Robles gave up, though it was then he realized his head had become lodged between the iron rejas. Panicked, Robles began to flail wildly and frantically scream “Upe! Upe!” at the top of his lungs. María Fernanda Santos, a resident of the barrio, noticed that something was amiss when Robles passed out from exhaustion nearly 40 minutes later.

“He just suddenly stopped crying ‘upe’, so I called the fire department.” Santos told el Peji. “When he passed out, lots of people starting coming by and trying to steal his stools and grasshoppers, so I knew it was vital to get the authorities on the scene as soon as possible. ‘’

Montes de Oca Bomberos arrived on the scene in a record four hours and freed Robles with the Jaws of Life within 45 minutes. Dehydrated and in shock from the ordeal, Robles was rushed to Clínica Bíblica where he is still waiting to see a doctor.

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