28 Feb 2008 - Rod - Costa Rica part 1


So off to airport about 11am for a leisurely 2 hour flight down to Costa Rica. All going great. Police escort to the airport. All these shows we have police escort back from show but also quite often to the show and to and from the airport -- not security (who's gonna hurt us!) just traffic. A lot of these big cities (Guadalajara 10 million, Monterrey 15 million, Mexico City 25 mill) have congested traffic. Taken by cars to steps of plane, did passport formalities at the foot of the steps, they took big luggage to put in hold, what a great change from airports normally. Looking good.

We got on the plane ready to go ......but didn't. some lady was furiously on her mobile phone...what is this .....a rubber stamp missing?? Oh no! Waited and waited about an hour. We needed to get away as the gear had to be cleared that afternoon for the show the next day. I went down to talk to this lady and advised her that if we didn't leave within the hour we would miss our show which would cost us a million dollars (I wish!!) and we would have to sue the airport for this. I also intimated we would call the Mexican papers as we were of course quite big news at this time there. She called her boss and by this or by coincidence we were given clearance to leave by Air Traffic Control. OK great. Taxied out to the runway for take off ..........then Capt John comes back to me and whispers that the Airport Authorities had called us back to the gate! They still wanted their rubber stamp on some paperwork we had given in, I am told, in plenty of time that morning. We were told the AA would be there in 10 mins -- but it was a local 10 min. An hour later still waiting, To balance things on our side we had parked the plane where it would block up part of the airport, the Mexicana section. Although the Mexicana guys were very sympathetic and friendly they started to get worried about us blocking their area. By this time l had called EMI to have them get the press to call the airport and ask why we were being held up in such an unfriendly manner. I was told later that they had told the press we had gone!! So much for creating an "International incident"!!

Anyway soon after, having been delayed by some two and a half hours, perhaps geed along a bit by media calls and questions, they finally got there with the bit of paper which we signed off again and it was steps away ready to go. And then the doors were opening again and we were greeted by an amazing sight. The lady at the centre of a lot of this -- who had a wonderful mane of flaming red hair and was really quite sweet (it wasn't her fault all this)  - was standing at the top of the stairs as they were driven forward, leaning towards the plane with the vitally important paper in her hands -- rolled up. I swear it brought back memories of Boudicca charging in her chariot spear to the fore!! 

I do hope John or someone got a shot of this or the documentary guys filmed it!! They certainly shot everything else. Should be funny in the doc though it wasn't that funny at the time, just a pain on the ass.

On the flight Chris did all his interviews with the band which saves me or Dave having to chase them, Bruce and I discussed some issues around The Chemical Wedding movie, l caught up on press plans for UK with William, the crew sang etc. and one of the doc crew dressed up as a stewardess and served us drinks. Yes road fever is spreading. Same old!!

On arrival I went to room, complained and changed it -- first time this tour!! - then went to bar to meet up with old pal Phil Rodriguez, our promoter, and Eduardo his partner in Costa Rica. Apparently they were at high school together in New York so as they are both my age -- early forties -- this was long ago. Phil has been involved with most of our SA touring since our first visit to Brazil for Rock in Rio in 85 and is a good chap and very good promoter who deals well with the detail which l cannot say about some promoters. I know we are quite demanding but we are for a reason and that is to have a great show and present everything well.

We talked about future plans but also the incredible situation in Costa Rica. (I must learn some more adjectives as I am getting bored of incredible, amazing, great, excellent and the rest and am sure you are too!) we have never been here and have never talked to any media or anyone at all here in Costa Rica. In fact that applies to all of Central America. Apparently Eduardo with assistance from a small metal radio station and local web site started rumours of our visit around early November and the place went mad with people asking if it was true, where could they get tix etc. basically the place went mad. Tickets went on sale on Dec 18 -- at 2 minutes to midnight no less -- and all the web sites for tickets crashed even at that time of night, and that morning they managed to process about 10,000 tickets and the rest, for a max total of 24,000 in the football stadium, were gone soon after. This is the largest audience for a music event in the history of the country apparently. So how does this happen? How do they know? I think its unbelievable ( if not incredible -- ha ha) that this could happen considering the total lack of contact Iron Maiden has had with Costa Rica.

I am going to meet the guys behind the website and radio at the show tomorrow and will ask why. I am truly mystified but also very excited, this concert is such a huge event here it has to be very memorable (if not incredible = see I am trying. Just that this tour is full of superlatives!!!) and I very much look forward to it
In the evening Phil and Eduardo took us out for dinner at a good fish and steak restaurant -- everyone very relaxed as it was only our gang plus Phil and Eduardo and his lovely daughter and we all know Phil and got on great with Ed and his girl. Record company dinners are good but you can never relax fully with people you don't really know well as is often the case in more far afield places. You will all have that feeling; it's nice to just be with friends. A good meal and some fine wine and back to the bar at the hotel which was heaving.

This reminds me. Earlier in the eve some of our guys were being abused by 5 drunk Americans, the sort who tell their wives they are off on a golf/fishing tour when it is really booze and hookers they are after, you know, the loud kind who do their country no favours when they travel abroad. You know the type, ...ooo look at him with his lovely hair. I was going to say something but thought better alert Phil and Ed and Ed went over to them and said simply " you are guests in our country and l have to warn you you are pissing in the wrong pond". That shut them up and they soon left

Anyway back in the bar all in good spirits. The local biker guys, "the Steel Angels" with their cool colours and Harleys, were there decked out in Maiden shirts. I have always been a sucker for biker culture and usually find even the most evil looking dudes are cool people who love their bikes, their mates and usually their rock or metal music. And these guys were no exception. We went to see their bikes -- beautifully ornate some of them -- and of course the doc guys had the cameras out as usual catching it all.

Eventually got to bed -- sure I would sleep well!!! A great end to a day with a bad start -- how it should be. Tomorrow will be immense (new word??)

- Rod

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