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Backstage with Baldy

Lima – October 2nd

It’s been said that having a near death experience will give a person a renewed appreciation for life.

Well, I would imagine that everyone in Lima has a great appreciation for life, because driving in this city is a near death experience each time you get in the car.

Two times on the way from the airport to the hotel we were nearly T-boned by other cars. Then once on the way to the gig the morning of the show it happened again, and finally today on my way back to the hotel in a cab it happened once more.

Lights and signals and rules; these things just slow drivers down, so motorists in Lima tend to do what they want.

And while we’re talking about fearing for your life, I made another huge mistake today.

I went with Mike and his tech to a market to shop for souvenirs.

We were about 2 ½ hours into the adventure when I got burned out and decided that instead of waiting for them to finish up and come back with them in the safety of our hired van (complete with driver, armed security guy, and interpreter/guide), I’d go rogue and jump in a cab and come back alone.

MISTAKE

I mentioned in a previous write-up that I’m an experienced world traveller.

I didn’t say I was a smart one.

Getting in a cab in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and you don’t know the address of your hotel is a potential disaster.

Or in my case, a realized disaster.

About five minutes into the trip, the driver turned around and asked me a question.

Oh no.

Our guide had spoken with him before I got in, so I assumed he knew where he was going, but I was wrong. He only had the hotel name, not the address, and then the fun began.

He kept talking to me and asking questions, and I kept replying “English”, which I guess translates into Spanish as “keep asking questions”, because he continued talking to me even though he clearly knew I didn’t understand a word.

He eventually pulled over to ask directions from another cab driver, who prompted me to roll down my window so he could hit me with a fresh barrage of Spanish that was just as meaningless to me as my driver’s.

By this time we were about 20 minutes into this fiasco, and I figured it was about time to end this nonsense, so I did what the guys in the band do whenever they have a problem: call Chuck.

As I’ve mentioned before, our beloved tour manager Chuck is like a mobile 911 call center. He answers the phone, ascertains your needs, and dispenses with the proper response.

In other words, he gave me the hotel address and I was back within 5 minutes.

And outside of the hotel waiting for the band to appear were a handful of fans.

There were fans outside the hotel the entire time we were here in Peru.

One of my favorite parts of this job is talking to fans.

I don’t get to do it all that often because I’m usually running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but occasionally it happens.

I was eating breakfast in the hotel when a guy walked up and asked me if I was “The World Famous Baldy”.

(By the way, what’s going on in Peru? I haven’t seen a local bald dude since I’ve been here. Everyone here has powerful heads of hair. Showoffs)

Anyway, we chatted for a few minutes and he told me a bit about himself and we talked about the band for a while.

He lives in Lima, but had travelled to Argentina and Chile for the last two shows, which was pretty cool I thought.

He then proceeded to tell me about another guy who had travelled by bus from Ecuador to Santiago just to see the band.

That’s a pretty hefty road trip when you look at a map, and just to drive home how hefty that is, it took him seven days.

Seven days on a bus just to see Alice In Chains.

That’s incredible.

Fans waiting outside of the hotel for hours and hours.

Fans travelling to different countries to see Alice In Chains play.

A fan sitting on a cramped stinky bus for seven days to get on the rail in Santiago.

The people in South America have passion, and it really is an incredible thing to witness.

The people I’ve talked to in person and watched at the shows on this latest run have been remarkable.

As I’ve mentioned before, the unfortunate reality of being famous and in the public eye is that it’s impossible to sign every picture and take every photo and fulfill every request.

And I know that means some fans end up walking away from hotels and venues disappointed.

But that doesn’t mean the band doesn’t recognize what’s going on down here.

This trek has been really special, and it’s the fans that have made it that way.

Fans like Julio, and Jefferson, and Renata. And thousands more.

On behalf of the guys I’d like to thank all of you who have come out and supported this band.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed, it means the world to them, and they will be back…

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