The Man with the Orchid Tattoo

18 Feb

As the title implies, Greg has gotten a new tatto. A permanent keepsake from Colombia, a reminder of our time here.

There may have been jokes (peppered with serious ideas) about what he could/should have gotten: a coffee bean/bush, various fruits (banana! mango! maracuya!), an outline of the country, a bottle of rum or aguardiente, the words “Medellín” or “Colombia” in big, bold font.

Ultimately, though, he found a picture of what he wanted: orchids.

Generally, orchids are plentiful in Colombia. The national flower of Colombia is a type of orchid, the local botanical garden has an orquideorama that fosters natural growth for their orchids and we certainly see a few here and there on walks throughout the city. In other parts of the country–rainforests or jungles–orchids are part of the scenery.

Colombia is famous for its flowers. As I’ve cited before, a huge percentage of flowers at your local flower shop in the US come directly from Colombia because here things just grow. The climate is perfectly suited to abundance of all growing things, which is awesome in the true sense of the word.

Once Greg found a representation of orchids that he liked, he found a tattoo artist in the “first barrio” of Medellín, el Prado. The Prado is close to the center of town and is really one of the only vestiges of early settlement in Medellín. The houses are traditional, with large, flat exteriors and open-aired courtyards, inside.

The tattoo shop was actually inside one of these old, lovely homes. At first glance, you would never have known it to be any kind of commercial enterprise; there are no signs or names on the exterior of the house, no blinking neon “TATTOO” flashes to guide us in finding the shop. We knocked on the door.

Greg had met with the artist the day prior, and we found Cesar working on drawings of the orchids, prepping the paper to serve as his guide in the tattoo. Once they were pressed onto his skin, Cesar took a pen and lightly drew details, like a stem and accompanying buds, which he then traced over with a semi-permanent paint that would disappear through the course of the tattoo.

It was a mess of black squiggles. The orchids he had drawn were lovely, but I had no idea how the final product would turn out; to me it was hard to see the layered definition that would eventually come to life.

All in all, the process took about four hours. I could only stay for one of those, so Greg was left to tough it out on his own (he’s my big boy!). The orchids are vibrant and beautiful and the shading of the buds is lovely. It’s the perfect souvenir for this year, a memory of everything that we learned, everything that’s happened and something that will always remind us of our magical time here.

No, he didn’t cry.


One Response to “The Man with the Orchid Tattoo”

  1. Lea Anthony February 20, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    O. M. G. Greg knocked one outta the park. Please do not loose your heads and come back with a tattoo from every place you visit from now on…especially NO penguins on you butt Nina. Remember that Nick has an Indian Totempole on his chest……….

    We had a long conversation once about not defacing your body with piercings and tattoos. Nina must have heard some of that because she has resisted…but now? How does one compete with the man with the orchid tattoo? Cripes she sleeps with him!
    Be strong Nina…be very strong.

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