QCOSTARICA – As the Central Valley enters the dry season, the clear blue skies make for perfect days to be about, especially on weekends. But what to do on a Sunday without money? Alas, the old Costa Rican custom of sticking to the wire mesh of the Santamaría airport to watch planes take off and land.
Even with the expansion of Costa Rica’s main air terminal and the widening of the roads around it over the years, nothing has stopped that Costa Rican tradition of taking the family to the closest chain link fence to see steel giants take off and land. And this Sunday was no exception.
Don Sergio Hidalgo, 77, summed it up very easily: in times of a pandemic you don’t have to spend, so this weekend he settled in with his grandchildren in a nearby lot to enjoy the aeronautical show. “The departure of the airplanes from here is a place where you can come and enjoy yourself as a family without spending money,” he told La Nacion.
Of course, those interested have to arrive early and have patience because the few spots remaining fill up quickly. The most desirable areas are along a street parallel to the airport that leads to the 07 runway, by the old radar. Also in the pastures in front of Cabecera 25, in Río Segundo de Alajuela or on the south side, where the old La Candela restaurant used to be or the evicted precario (shantytown) Los Huevitos.
A jacket or sweater, sunscreen, sunglasses, and loose change for a “copo” (slushie), because there is no shortage of slush vendors. In addition, having a car is not a requirement, getting there by bus and on foot is very easy.
Dinorah Portilla, a foreigner living in our country, stated that although at this moment she does not have a job, being able to go to a place like this “is wonderful” because it helps her clear her mind. She recalled that there is a bus stop that leaves the curious very close to the green areas where the planes can be observed. “For people like me who do not have a car, being able to get here by bus is an advantage, to bring the children to see something that we cannot normally see every day.”
On Sunday afternoons, for example, fans can see the giant of Iberia, an Airbus A330-200 that can weigh 230 tons when taking off; or KLM’s elegant Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, or the colorful Airbus A340-313 from Edelweiss, which has an iconic snow flower on its tail, a symbol of the Swiss Alps.