When your plane lands in Liberia, Costa Rica, you immediately feel a foreigness, a sense of tropics. You’ve banked over the shimmering beaches, radiant in the sun. You’ve seen the cattle pastures surrounding the runway. When the cabin doors open, you feel a dense pressure work its way through the fuselage. As you exit the plane, onto the steel stairs that have been rolled into place, the humid tropical heat hits you like thick quilt. In the rain, a ground-crew member meets you with an umbrella for your walk across the tarmac, following the red cones. You begin to sweat with your first footsteps. You’re feeling sticky by the time you reach the open metal shed that serves as the terminal. You wait for your luggage under a 40 foot paddle fan. Birds roam freely – and mosquitoes after dark in the rainy season. From the immigration desk, you can see to the exit door, where your family is waving, huddled with the taxi drivers and tour operators. You’re in Costa Rica.
November 1st, 2011, all that will change, with the opening of the new terminal at Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica. The new building will have Air Conditioning and jet ways.
It will be clean and modern and universally accessible. It’ll have a news stand and gift shop. It’ll have car rental desks and cash machines. It’ll have Burger King and duty-free. It’ll certainly have an annoying public address system, continuously warning you not to smoke. You’ll think you’re at any other airport in the western world.
Until you leave the terminal and feel the dense pressure of the humid tropical heat.