Okay. So I am in La Paz Bolivia, working for a couple of weeks at a great tattoo shop called Pepes, with great new friends... friends like family. Tattooing continues to amaze me, the opportunities that open up to me because of my craft floor me. Doors that would otherwise remain shut, open up and I am allowed behind the curtain. I am incredibly thankful for this life and all that I am experiencing. I have seen so much over the past 8 months.
I have been in the norhtern jungle of Peru, where there is only electricity for four hours a day, from 6 Pm - 10 Pm. While on a walk with some friends to go smoke a joint, I met an old woman whom I could not speak to because my Spanish after all of this time is still shit, this poor woman was losing her face, it looked like biblical leprosy, she had no nose left, no lips and her cheek was starting to rot off, it was all just an open oozing sore that looked like the fat of a steak. Standing above her, I could see the top of her tongue as she struggled to talk. She had been suffering from this for 8 years, she lived with her son, in the jungle jungle, their house was 4 poles with a thatch roof, no walls, two mats with mosquito nets, no running water, no bathroom... This shit is life changing. When I get grumpy or feel bad for myself I remember this woman and her suffering and how she lives and I am thankful for my life. I am appreciative.
This trip has been more than i ever expected, while I was on a riverboat into the jungle I met a 16 year old kid from Englad who was on a tour of some sort with some other well off kids, it was his birthday. My friends from Argentina and I were stoned and I offered to smoke the kid out for his birthday on this gigantic ship making its way down a tributary of the Amazon river. I wondered as we layed on the deck and stared at the amazing sky, the stars shooting and falling, what the difference between this kids experience and mine was, we were both on this crazy ship, in the middle of the river, for days on end, eating prison food... what made his experience different than mine?
I realized I had worked my ass off to make it to the river, to be at that point in time, to have the time to be there laying on that ship, staring into the sky. I had earned it. I worked for it and therefore my appreciation must have been different, I had learned through my experiences what people to trust and what people not to trust (most of the time), I knew what risks I wanted to take and where I wanted to go... this kid was just floating and that was alright, it was a treat to talk with him for a bit and get him stoned on that creaking steel mass floating on the murky brown water as the landscape passed us by.
So far I have been through Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and now Bolivia. I love walking across the borders and getting new stamps. There is a new focus for me with tattooing, at the beginning of the trip I did a couple of tattoos here and there but no real concentration. Now the trip has become about tattooing. Hence the name of this fucking blog. And I can not believe how much it has changed my approach, my ideas, my drawings etc... The people tattooing down here in South America love the craft just as much as I do, most of them anyway, some of them are jokes, using other peoples work as their own for posters and business cards, not using autoclaves, I saw one shop that used the same grip over and over and would just change disposable tips for every new client... assholes. But there are amazing people here who love it like I love it. And that crosses any language barrier. The artists here have a lot less access to supplies and reference material, which means that they work in different ways than we do in the States. I haven't used or seen a thermofax (how we tatters make our stencils) or any of the normal reference books all of us love so much, because they have to pay a fucking shitload to get anything into their country. In turn this has transformed my work ethic. That and conversing with all of these dudes and exchanging information, I can actually feel myself becoming a craftsman, with pride and confidence in my abilities.
Doing this blog is difficult as I dont have a computer and blah blah blah... but I figured I could share some photos from the trip thus far, the best of the best with no concern for a timeline, just to get them out there for you all to see, to share aas best I can my experience up until this point.
and more to come later---