3 AM alarm calls on Friday morning are not fun. But I had to get myself up and out of bed and on the road to London's Heathrow airport. I had a long day of travel ahead to get to Bogota for day one of my Colombia tour. It felt like my eyes had been open all of five minutes before I heard my driver, Chris Colburn, pull up outside. Chris looked just as tired as me. I have to say thanks to him for being so willing to get up at this crazy hour, let alone to drive me to the airport. I thought it was sensible for us to stop at the motorway services to get a couple of large coffees, so we did. Funnily enough the place was full of young lads off on what looked like their first holiday away without the parents. Greece, lock up your daughters!
This trip would be my first time flying long haul with Iberia, and I must say that the experience was pretty lame. The in-flight service is OK, but to not have TVs in the back of the seat is pretty medieval by modern standards. I mean, come on folks! 14 hours flying without the opportunity to select what you want to watch is insane, not to mention the RSI on my neck!
The connecting flight from London to Madrid arrived on time, so I could casually stroll to the boarding gate for Bogota. Once boarded, I was delighted to see that no one was sat next to me so I could spread out and also I didn't have to talk to anyone. I am quite unsociable on planes. I enjoy having some quiet time to myself to read a book, listen to music or watch a film. Sadly my plans to watch some films was ruined by the lack of a watchable TV and although I did attempt to watch a film on my laptop, the dude in front of me made full use of the reclining seat (fair play...), which meant there was no way I could open up the laptop. I tried balancing it on my chair but the thing was so damn hot it was like holding a toaster!
Ten long hours later I arrived in Bogota. The heat hit me pretty much instantly, and it made me feel even more tired than I already was. I wasn't sure if I slept much—maybe just a bit of that weird airplane sleep where you're not really asleep but more like meditating. Immigration took a little while to clear but was stress free and I finally got to meet the promoter, Minor Dot, who was waiting to take me to the hotel. There was no time to sleep before my gig, but I did manage to get a chicken burger from room service which funnily enough turned out to be the only hot food I would eat on the whole weekend. If I had known that at the time, I would have at least ordered steak!
Bogota was amazing, probably one of the darkest clubs I have ever played—a great crowd and a warm welcoming reception. It was also totally packed, which was very reassuring seeing as this was my first time in Colombia. I didn't really manage to catch up on any sleep after the gig, my body clock was all out of sync and it is hard to fall asleep when you know you have to be up and awake to catch a place the next day.
Day two was all about getting to Medellin and meeting up with my fellow Drumcode artist and good friend, Joseph Capriati. (Joseph has been in South America for a week already with gigs in Lima and Pereira.) Annoyingly, I still didn't get to eat, as my credit card was not getting accepted at the airport. That said, the whole experience of touring in South America was keeping me distracted from feeling hungry. After arriving a little delayed, I met with Jose, the promoter, and we set off to the hotel. I was really taken aback by the beauty of Medellin on the way to the hotel. The airport is right at the top of the mountain so you get the most amazing view of the city as you drive down into it.
I think it looked even more superb because it was lit up. (I got there at night.) As we arrived I was really buzzing about playing at Forum Club. I heard lots of great things from fellow DJs about it. After some rest, Joseph buzzed my room and we met in the lobby. Party time! Again the Medellin crowd was among the best ever—a crazy energy from all the beautiful people, a great sound in the room and a sense of togetherness. Joseph played after me and, as always, he smashed it. Then we closed with an hour or so playing back-to-back. I think we finally left the club around 9 AM.
The next day was a little stressful but we got there in the end. Jose had a bit too much fun at the party I think and was late collecting me from the hotel. Fair play though, it was a great night and he was partying hard. Go Jose! In the end, he arrived and arranged a cab, which was perfect. I did end up missing the flight I was supposed to be on to Cali, but I managed to get another one a few hours later but that meant I couldn't travel on the same flight as Joseph, despite pleading with the airline staff at the gate. Sadly they were having none of it, so I had to just sit tight. It is moments like this that are the dark parts of touring. Tired, hungry, no one to hang out with, stuck in airports for hours on end. It is fair to say I was in a bad mood, but I managed to pass the time tweeting and browsing the net on my phone while laid out across four seats. Luckily there was free Wi-Fi and I clearly looked angry enough that no one bothered to ask me to move from the four seats!
I finally arrived in Cali and managed to have one hour in the hotel before my driver arrived to take me to the gig. This tour was really proving to be really hard work—all go, go, go. But sleeping is cheating, right? The club was called Elliptical and was another beautiful setting—an outdoor space surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush, green forest. The people were already going crazy when I arrived, and soon enough, the energy I was lacking came straight back. I was ready to go again and finish the tour with a bang.
Joseph got there shortly into my set, and again we partied until daylight. I wasn't too worried about my lack of sleep by this point, as I knew I had a good 20+ hours travel ahead of me just a few hours after playing. I needed to fly back to Bogota, then to Madrid and finally on to London. I had about two hours in the hotel room to shower and pack my things before starting the trek home. I managed to eat one box of Pringles and a Snickers from the mini bar, much the same as the last few days. By this point it was pretty much my routine for daily food intake!
When I landed in Bogota, I made it my mission to find hot food. So after security I found a small bar where I ordered a hamburger and fries, along with a large beer. I asked the guy to continue to bring me a beer whenever my glass was empty. This ended up being a little silly in hindsight because I was so thirsty that after an hour I had already drunk 5 pints. As I'd not eaten for the last four days—well, hardly eaten—I decided to order a hot dog and fries as a kind of dessert to the hamburger and fries I'd already destroyed. I think part of the reckless hunger was due to the fact I'd now had 6 pints! There was method to my madness though, as my plan was to drink enough beer that I was sure to sleep for the majority of the ten hour flight to Madrid.
Shortly after pulling myself away from the bar and settling my tab, I boarded my flight to Madrid. It was now that my decision to get drunk really paid off, because there was this crazy dude sat behind me who was screaming and shouting all sorts of weird stuff. Half in Spanish, half in English. And he stank so bad I felt a little sick. Probably not his fault, and bless him, but in all honesty it was the last thing I needed. Not on a long haul flight and not on the way home.
As we were taxiing to the runway I could see the air stewardess giving me the look as if to say, "Do you wanna move?" I think she could sense it was going to be a long flight with the screaming man, the baby two rows to the left and the fact that I must have looked totally beaten. However I booked the extra legroom seat to maximize sleeping potential and I wasn't going give that up. Not even the baby or screaming man was going to deny me that. All I can say is my Bose noise cancelling headphones have never been more of a godsend than on this flight. Amazing. I slept for five hours, woke up for a quick toilet pit stop and then slept another five hours. Thank you Bose, and thank you beer!
Touchdown, Madrid... Argh! One more flight to go. 10 AM Tuesday and I am back at Madrid's terminal 4. After enjoying a round of sandwiches and a coffee, it's onward to London Heathrow and the final leg home. The girl on the flight sitting next to me looked just as knackered as me, and we both went into sleep mode as soon as we got settled. I was super happy to arrive back in London, and I got out of the terminal nice and quickly to meet my buddy Chris again and drive home. All in all it was a fantastic tour, and I look forward to going back to Colombia soon. Three amazing venues in beautiful locations, and it was great fun to hang out with my good friend Joseph. Next time I will make sure I get to eat a little better!