Thursday, September 8, 2011


Some things I acquired while in South America.

Clothing. All of which now are a few shades darker than what they once were. The days of sweat, the stench of a thousand cigarettes, and the sheer effort it took to find a laundromat have taken their toll (although that seems appropriate for my dirty hippy Peruvian trousers).

A bracelet from almost every city I went to.
I'm actually missing five, but that's most of them.
A Millennium Falcon.

For the specific use of taking mediocre photos with on the Bolivian salt flats.

The world's ugliest jumper. Which (I'll have you know) I wore for two months after buying it in order to give to Ev, my brother. It was acquired after a day of walking what must have been the length and breadth of La Paz with two boys from New York. The day was spent hunting for the famous Evo Morales Sweater. Don't fret if you haven't heard of it; neither had I. Not content with coming home bearing a llama jumper, with being yet another backpacker decked out in the backpacker uniform, Dani and Andrew were determined to buy and wear proudly the sweater that had made the Bolivian president an accidental fashion sensation.

After a day of learning that as the approval rating of a leader falls so too does the ubiquity of his chosen warmth providing upper body clothing item, we finally found an almost identical sweater. Thus, the boys had their sweaters, and I had a serious case of sweater envy. So instead of heading to the top of the city in order to take in the apparently breathtaking view, we continued to the next sweater shop so I could find the ugliest one on the market. Find I did.

Never let it be said that the ugliness of a sweater negates its warmth.

Anyway, I gave it to Ev after two months of my having worn it, of it not being washed once, and with a big rip in the sleeve. He loved it. "I'll wear it to uni and pretend I'm an architecture student!" was his immediate response. 

Sisterly duty, done.

The most exciting acquisition however, occurred with only four days left to spare in South America. I decided to get a tattoo.  

I'd been wanting one for a while. I'd been pondering what I'd get for a while. Then suddenly it just seemed right, completely natural to get it in South America. At the risk of sounding like a dud, I felt like I had to commemorate the time I'd had on the trip with something, something drastic. And that I had to get it done whilst I was still there. Jesse and I spent one particular afternoon talking at great length about tattoos, what we'd get done if we ever felt that compelled to do it. After that, the desire to Get It Done grew and grew, until it wasn't something I wanted, it was something I NEEDED to do before hopping back onto a plane. 

So after finding Amor Real Tattoos, meeting Amaro and talking about a design, I headed back the next day to Get It Done. I burst into Jesse's room, waking him. 
"Dude! What're you doing in forty five minutes?"
"Uhh. Nothing. Why?"
"Wanna come get my tattoo done with me?"

We trouped over to Providencia, had a half-decent coffee (which is somewhat rare in South America) and went about Getting It Done. It was my first tattoo (fun fact for you), and while it's not particularly huge - it ain't a sleeve or nothin' - it's not tiny either. I wasn't sure how my pain threshold was going to hold up. So as the buzzing began behind me, I flailed my hand in Jesse's direction. 
"JESSE!" I hissed. 
"COME HERE!" My hand was flapping at him like a epileptic fish.
"What, really?"
I grasped Jesse's hand for dear life. I'd brought him along thinking that I'd die before pussying out in front of him, but now I wondered how much of a feat of willpower that would be. After all I'd heard varying reports on how much tattoos hurt. 

First contact was made ... and it barely hurt at all. In fact, I began to laugh. "Are you alright? Is something wrong?" Amaro asked. Maybe he thought I was crying. I stopped giggling and assured him that all was well. 
"Laughing it off like a boss!" said Jesse approvingly. 

Shortly afterwards our friend Felipe turned up, holding the fruits of a long day shopping (he'd had a "gay day" he told us, using up the money his parents had sent to fly him to Argentina to visit them). He snapped some photos, and promptly knocked over a painting in the studio. Amaro, far from pleased, told the boys off. Jesse knows next to no Spanish, but given how quickly he bailed (with Felipe in tow), it was clear he understood Amaro's tone.


Surprisingly, my folks had nothing disapproving to say. Probably because I was still on the other side of the world. I think by then they'd resigned themselves that nothing they could do would really play a factor in changing my mind. I returned home victorious, about three hours later (tell you what, just sitting there gets pretty old pretty fast) to high fives and noises of approval from the guys. Victory beers were consumed. I was warned by a fellow Australian that it's bad to drink immediately after getting a tat but Jesse, ever the good influence, told me to shut up and drink. 

Anyway, it's a map of South America with a few lines from my favourite Bob Dylan song, "Isis" inside. I've had (again, at the risk of sounding like an almighty dud) a bit of a special relationship with that particular song for a long time now, and it seemed only appropriate to include it. The verse in question in its entirety is:
I married Isis on the fifth day of May
But I could not hold onto her very long
So I cut off my hair and rode straight away
For the wild unknown country 
Where I could not go wrong. 

But you know, that's a little long. So I chose the last two lines. 

It's a fairly bad photo I know, but you get the idea and I'm not about to
fix it. Disclaimer: I'm not that pixellated in RL. 

I'm comfortable with having that image on my person for the rest of my life. South America and all that came with it is an experience I won't soon be forgetting, and that song has followed me around like a stench for the past few years. Like I said, it seemed natural to get it. Hell, I'm glad this was my first tattoo experience. It sure beats getting wasted in Thailand and having 'KNOB' tattooed on the inside of your bottom lip like this guy I met in Bolivia (true story, I saw it). 

1 comment:

  1. Reading this blog is so much more entertaining than doing work! Your post has painted a vivid picture of South America and I wanna go now more than ever! And it has also made me want another tattoo pretty badly.. I love yours! So personal. Isn't it weird how travelling makes you want to take a permanent piece back with you forever? I was only in New Zealand for a week, but in that time I skydived and it was my first real taste of freedom overseas without the parentals in tow. So it only seemed fitting that I get a Maori symbol tattooed on my shoulder, despite having no Maori heritage in any way whatsoever. My Mum lived in Wellington for a bit... But that's all I can claim to Kiwiness. It was a totally impulsive decision, and I've never regretted it. Most ppl I know who have tats agree that the impulsive ones are the best kind. So bravo for jumping on the wagon Reb! I'll stop crashing your blog now and get back to work. Fizz x