27 Mar 2011 - Todd's Diary - Colombia

When we approached the runway in Colombia, it was kind of what I imagined it would look like. As we started our descent, we burst through the thick clouds of Colombia (they actually looked like pieces of floating land) and over the beautiful green hills I had only seen in documentaries.
Colombia is bordered on the northwest by Panama, on the east by Venezuela and Brazil, and on the southwest by Peru and Ecuador. Through the western half of the country, three Andean ranges run north and south. The eastern half is a low, jungle-covered plain, drained by spurs of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers, inhabited mostly by isolated tropical-forest Indian tribes.
After dealing with customs directly on the plane, we were rushed to the hotel via policia escort, passing by hundreds of screaming fans out front on every corner, some who had been there since early am. As I came down to the lobby, there were tons of fans pressed up against the glass doors banging, screaming and chanting. Hotel security were lined up inside in case they broke through. I took a few photos (see below) before I ran up to throw my bags in my room. I ran back down to lobby in less than 10 minutes but when I returned the crowd had disappeared with the exception of a handful. Wondering what happened, I stepped out of the lobby doors and realized why. The military police had been called in and they meant business. No one messed with the PM armed with machine guns and bomb sniffing dogs. I was a little bummed that I didn't get intense crowd shots from the outside. I don't think any fans were manhandled, certainly hope they weren't, but in some places rowdy crowds aren't tolerated very well and l suppose they thought it a bit of a nuisance for others staying at the hotel!!

We again were told we shouldn't leave the hotel, especially alone but I missed a little excitement in Mexico City and I was going stir crazy in hotels. I was in Colombia! I wanted to see at least a bit of it in the little time we were here so some of us decided to go out on the town for dinner and dance, under security escort of course. We first went walking down the street to find a restaurant. We came across Patagonia and I was sold when I saw the line of raw steaks and sausages in front of a huge oven in the background. I had to try the steak so Griff and I ordered the large steak. Wow! I've NEVER seen a cut this size. I gave a third to security (1/3 = a full portion on its own) and dove in. I managed to barely finish what I had left while Griff ended up eating the whole thing (ahh to be young) although he did not look well from being overstuffed with greasy meat. After we finished this amazing dinner, we decided to work off some calories so Tash and Zeb found a locals Salsa dance club and off we were. I don't dance but after a few quick lessons from Zeb, I was a dancing maniac... well, not really... not at all actually but Griff was a star out on the floor and even had some ladies going on with his new moves. A natural. This was, of course, after a few pints and shots of something minty that was going around. We ended up closing the club and stumbled back to the hotel around 3:30 am. After all, we did have a big day coming up.

(after the shot!)
I caught a ride up with Steve and after 2 or 3 intense check points, we were in IM HQ onsite. Rookie Move Alert -- I was in thin cargo pants, tennis shoes and a windbreaker. After an hour of arriving it starting pouring rain! My shoes were soaked through, as was my jacket and I had mud all over and felt miserable. Of course The Krew had rain gear on, boots, jeans and were totally prepared. I guess I didn't get the memo. Luckily the clouds cleared up just before Maiden hit the stage and when they did, there were bodies everywhere! Thousands of fans pushing forward and bouncing in unison causing the concrete floor to actually bounce with the crowd. I kept looking at the barricade wondering if it was going to give way as the floor pushed forward. It made me a little nervous that security was also checking the barricade to make sure it was holding. It was that intense! These kids lived, breathed Maiden. There were even crying fans like in Flight 666 (see photos).  As I  gazed across the sea of faces, some crying, most rejoicing, I was touched to see the pure emotion behind every word they sang along to. The only downer was that some jerk threw something up on stage and it hit Dave in the face, cutting him. Luckily it wasn't serious but caused him to miss his part. I don't understand why anyone would do that. I know someone may want to get attention or feel like they are part of the show but it could have seriously hurt Dave. I even got hit by something in the pit. Albeit it was a sweater but still. A couple of idiots don't spoil a great audience and I know if any real fans saw someone doing this they would sort them out immediately!! It was so crazy that at one point that I noticed both Jeff and Peter (IM security) in the pit. I later found out Zeb sent them in to make sure I wasn't getting smashed!

After we were whisked back to the hotel where I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep instantly. Sorry, no bar stories for you. Everything must have caught up to me because next thing I know I was laying there in the same clothes with the tv and lights on and it was 6:30 am. At least I got some salsa dancing in! I didn't get to taste the coffee, although I'm not a big fan of coffee.
Oh yes. After we took off we actually passed over a smoking volcano! I unfortunately missed it being on the wrong side of the plane so no photos.
See you in Lima!

- Todd

More pics, page 2.



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