It's hard to believe we were almost at the end of the first leg. I was now getting very close to my homeland and I could almost feel it. While Puerto Rico is not actually considered a state, it is considered part of the US so it was close enough. When we were in the airport Steve came up to me with a smile and said "Almost home now." It must have shown on my face or maybe, touring for so long, he sensed that I could feel it and knows what its like. He was spot on. I was almost home. But for now, we were in Puerto Rico and I was going to milk the rest of these last few dates for all they're worth.
When we got the hotel some of us met in the restaurant bar for a quick drink and to figure out what to do for the evening. Gaddsy, Ian, Janick, Adrian and Dave were in the back having a quiet dinner so we decided to also grab a table for a quick bite as well with Bruce joining us a few minutes later. After a nice meal and some plane talk, get 3 pilots together and the conversation always turns to planes, Dave, Bruce and few others ended up in the casino for the rest of the night/earlymorning.
The next day was laundry day. Yes, even we have to do ordinary tasks while on the road such as laundry although sometimes it's not that easy to find a nearby launderette. And we didn't! There we were, walking a mile down a hot road searching for this so called launderette. We saw Spider across the road and he pointed down the road andsaid something we couldn't quite hear so we nodded, waved and continued to walk a mile up the road. After we finally found it and made our drop, we decided to take a taxi out to the older part of town, rest and check see a little bit of what Puerto Rico had to offer. We dropped off in front of Fort San Cristobal on the edge of the town and while we didn't actually have a chance to go in, I did manage to take this.
Located in Old San Juan, Fort Cristobal is one of the largest fortresses ever built in the Americas. Construction commenced in 1634 and the fort was redesigned in the nineteenth century. With its impressive walls reaching over 100 feet above the crashing waves, its primary function was to guard San Juan against land attacks. San Cristobal is attached to El Morro by colossal walls filled with cannon-firing positions.
As we started walking down one of the streets, we heard AC/DC blaring out of one of the bars. Sounded like the place for us so we ducked in. We ended up at a bar called the Red Monkey. It was a tad early so the bar was completely empty but they were watching AC/DC videos and we were tired of walking so we went in a game of darts until we figured out where to go next. Just then the flight krew happened to walk by and joined us followed by Justin and Nick (IMTV). After a couple hours of darts, Nick and Justin (Team A) went to find another bar they heard about and would call us if it was happening. They called. It was. So we moved to this bar called Los Cuernos. It was really packed and even had Americans in it. The bar closed around 2 AM and ended up taking a taxi back to the hotel after the bar closed. We had another big day coming up and I had interviews for Adrian, Nicko and Steve before the show the next night so off I went to the hotel to prepare.
The show was at the Coliseo where Maiden played in 2008. While I wasn't at the '08 show, I did feel like I was part of it because I had helped arrange for Laura Ingle and the New York Fox crew to meet the band out there and fly on Ed Force One to do an interview on the way back to New York as seen in "Flight 666." Laura and the Fox crew are HUGE fans and, not only ended up doing a terrific piece, they got on so well with band and management off camera, they became an instant part of the family. This was also the infamous show with the brief power issues (see Rod's Puerto Rico Diary - http://www.ironmaiden.com/index.php?categoryid=21&p2_articleid=841) that almost caused the band to postpone the show last time around. This time around everything was working and all was good to go.
Ash and Squid took their usual place on stage, getting the crowd pumped up just before lights went out. The tour may be winding down but the band's performance definitely wasn't. The band hit the stage with the same energy and intensity of the first show, and every show after. As usual, I walked out to the floor to take as much in of these last few shows. Maybe it's because I'm hard of hearing (too many years, too many shows with no protection) but sonically I really love the indoor shows. You can really hear and feel the power of the music in enclosed venues. As I walked through the crowd, enjoying the show, I ran into fans from all around the world including a couple that came all the way from Sweden to attend the show.
The next day we said goodbye to San Juan
Next up, Florida!
Janick's Big Ash impression. Scarily good.