When traveling by plane, you’ll arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport. Your first stop after deboarding the plane will be at Immigration.
You’ll see a orange colored sign hanging from the ceiling. Immediately after going through that door you’ll see lines of waiting people below. Go down the stairs and become one of them.
The airline should have given you two forms, one for Immigration, and one for Customs. If you are only bringing into the country your personal belongings, just write down “personal belongings” on the customs form. The immigration form asks for your intended address in Costa Rica. Just write down: “familia de ILISA Instituto de Idiomas”. Have both forms ready along with your passport.
After passing Immigration, you will arrive in a hall with 2 baggage transport belts. On one of these you should be able to find your luggage. This can be difficult because several flights sometimes use the same baggage transport belt, so be prepared to search around a little to locate your luggage. Be aware that to avoid too much congestion, baggage handlers will remove luggage from the belts. This means that if you don�t see your items on the belt, they are probably already on the floor.
Your next stop is Customs. If you have two bags or less you can usually just walk on through. For those with more than two bags there is an area where you must push a button. If after pushing the button the light turns green, proceed on through Customs. If the light turns red, you will have your luggage examined. (note: Customs can check any bag or individual they desire.)
After passing through Customs, take the stairs to the right. They will take you to the airport exit. There is a conveyer belt on your right-hand side to transport heavy pieces upstairs. Have your baggage ticket claim tags ready because the baggage handlers at the top of the stairs will often ask to see them. (You should have received the tags from the airline during check-in; they are normally stapled onto your ticket envelope).
Once past this area, proceed through the doors in front of you. Normally there are quite a few people standing there. Don�t worry, just look for somebody with a white ILISA sign with blue lettering and your name on it. We will take care of the rest. (note: see “Z last word” at the end of orientation)
Who will pick you up? Carlos, Rosibel and Kenneth have all worked with ILISA in airport pickups for years. They will promptly take you to your host family or hotel upon your arrival in Costa Rica.
Remember, the Costa Ricans are not that tall so look at all levels. In case you don’t see the sign immediately, hold back a while just outside the door. The pickup person has a trained eye for folks like you and may indicate that he has seen you if that’s the case.
Welcome to Costa Rica!
If you don’t see your pickup, wait just outside the doors. Sometimes a traffic accident can spoil things. But if he or she is not there within 15 minutes or so, ask somebody for a 20 colon coin and make a phone call at the nearby booth to your host family to see if they have heard about something. If not or if you don’t feel confident enough using your Spanish, you can call ILISA’s director at 383-5875 to receive further instructions. In case you don’t have success with either number, find a cab to take you to your host family at the address listed on our homestay form.