A Chance Meeting with an Idol

Our last day in Lima, Peru found us in the San Francisco Monastery observing the life of the monks, the detailed paintings and sculptures, and most interestingly, the bones of people buried in the catacombs below. During this visit, I turned around and saw one of my idols from my favourite band: Tom Araya, lead singer and bassist of Slayer. I was pretty sure, but didn’t approach him because we were in a quiet place with guided tours everywhere you looked.

Monasterio de San Francisco: site of our first Araya sighting.

When we got back to the hotel, I checked the internet and much to my chagrin, Slayer had just performed the night before in Lima. I was sad that we’d missed the show (Andrea is also a fan) and angry at myself for not trusting my instincts and saying hello to Araya. The good news was their next show was in Bogota, Colombia in two days time and that’s exactly where we were headed.

At the Lima airport the next morning, we were casually waiting at our gate when who should I see walking towards the same gate? You guessed it - none other than Araya again. I’ve never encountered any major celebrities in my time, but this was one of my most admired musicians and twice in two days was just too freaky!

We lined up behind him and the guy he was travelling with as we started to board.

“Ah, Tom? I saw you at the monastery yesterday and just wanted to say hi,” I said nervously.

“You were at the church yesterday?” he asked, surprised.

Araya and guitarist, Kerry King of Slayer.

We proceeded to talk about travel in South America and he was just a really friendly guy. When I told him we were on the same plane to Bogota, he told me to write down our names and he would invite us to the show. Once we all boarded, I duly did so. He wasn’t even sitting in business class! He said that we just need to bring our IDs and we’d be on ‘the list’ at the venue. I thanked him, shook his hand and he introduced me to his brother, John. I gave them the thumbs up and went back to my seat.

What happens when you meet someone famous? Well I can only speak for myself, but I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. I then replayed the conversation in my head. Did I ramble at the start? Maybe I should’ve told him how much we liked Chile (he was born there).

Araya sings to the Colombian crowd (and us!)

Arriving at the venue the next night, Andrea and I looked through the sea of long hair and black t-shirts for a ticket counter, but all we could see was a gate with hordes of people surrounding it. Not speaking much Spanish, how were we going to find a list and if we did, would we be on it? Peeking through the gate, we asked someone, anyone for a list. This guy checked our IDs and then returned them to us. Five minutes later, a girl with a clipboard then asked us, “Invitas?”

I said, “Si, by Tom Araya.”

Her look didn’t fill me with confidence at all. We patiently waited outside the gate until we were finally let inside. The girl told us to sit and wait while she called someone on her mobile phone. We began to laugh because we really didn’t know what was going on. Then a different guy appeared about five minutes later.

“I’ve got these guys,” he said to the girl.

And then to us, “Tom told me about you two.”

Araya and drummer, Dave Lombardo performing in Bogota.

He gave us tickets in the mosh pit section (aptly named Raining Blood), we said thanks and we were on our way. All I kept thinking was wow, Tom Araya talked about us like we're ‘real people.’ Needless to say, the show was excellent. We’d seen Slayer four years earlier in Australia and a chance to see them live again so unexpectedly was a thrill for me. But meeting Araya and having a real conversation with him, well that just takes the cake! I always enjoy the randomness of travel: the people you meet and the events that occur when you’re in a new town or city. This was no different and the chance of a lifetime.

Have you ever met a celebrity or someone you look up to in person? What was your experience?

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61 Comments on "A Chance Meeting with an Idol"

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Cathy Sweeney

Very cool experience! It’s always a tricky thing about whether or not to talk to a celebrity if you see one in public. It can turn out great, like your situation, or maybe a little embarrassing. Best to take a chance! I was standing next to Angelina Jolie at the Guggenheim once, but didn’t get the guts to say anything.

Michael

Hi,  I am about to start a new travel site so I was perusing a few that I had previously saved under Sites to Emulate.  Yours is there.
I have had a few brushes with celebrities over the years and have creted Squidoo lens about them.  The one closest to your experience was the actor, William Hurt:  http://www.squidoo.com/williamhurt
Cheers,

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

I like William Hurt! Thanks for sharing this experience

Faith

Wow! That is just the coolest experience. I’m all giddy for you. So cool! 😀

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Thanks Faith!

Lisa

What a cool experience! I’m glad you were able to enjoy the concert in Bogota and talk to him in person! 

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Thanks Lisa! It was absolutely awesome.

Abby

So cool that you actually talked to him!! Sadly, I would be too shy…

Geert @ Inspiring Travellers

Thanks, Abby…I just opened my mouth and the words came out!

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