The Frothers Guide to Getting Inked Abroad: Antigua Guatemala

We often fail to realise that our decisions in the heat of excitement, may have lifelong repercussions.

<Shamelessly and permanently embracing who and what I am. I was intoxicated, bleeding profusely from the mouth and in Bangkok when this picture was taken, none of which I am particularly proud of>

I choose to ignore thinking like this on occasion, creatively shown through my assortment of permanent, arguably unintelligent, forms of body art.

From ‘Dude Where’s My Car’ quotes, to easily misinterpreted attempts at showcasing my spirituality, my body has become adorned with (what I like to call) a quirky collection of questionable decisions, made in moments of froth fuelled excitement in its purest form.

However my latest addition to the ink family was a great piece I had designed and done in Antigua, Guatemala.

After an encounter with some dodgy ex-cons from the US in a squalid, back alley tattoo pallor in Mexico, left us scurrying out of a forgotten appointment bare skinned. My travel companion and I became increasingly selective of where and what we were going to get etched onto our bodies as a form of memorabilia from this Central American adventure.

So on the advice of our tour guide, we waited until we got to Guatemala’s old capitol (prior to being destroyed by an earthquake… twice) Antigua.

Antigua is a Colonial European-esque town with a thriving university/backpacker vibe, combined with a unique blend of history and modern restaurant and cafe culture. At first glance the cobble streets, lined with various pastel coloured but sparsely decorated single level brick slabs, appear bare and uninviting. However you need only glance through one of the grandiose wooden doors, often set a few paces back from the street, to see that there’s much more to this little town then meets the eye. Secret garden-like, open air courtyards sporting a range of floral and other horticultural arrangements, alive with colour and often live music lie hidden behind thick brick exteriors and expats and locals alike flock to these picturesque cafes and boutiques.

Antigua also has one of the best universities in Central America and therefore lots of young international students choose to inhabit the city on exchange. Hence there’s no shortage of vibrant, quirky pubs and bars to drown a cerveca (beer) or two after dark.

And should you indulge in one cerveca too many and feel the urge to commemorate your time in quaint little Antigua with something more than just the colourful textiles touted at the local markets, I can highly recommend ‘Speeds Tattoo Parlour’ at 17 Calle Poniente or 17 West Street.

Located inside an exceptionally lavish hidden courtyard, all the tattoo artists have been trained in the US and speak very good English, so getting the design drawn up and priced isn’t an issue. Plus there are ample Buddhist texts and statues inside the studio, so one can deduce that the artist is at least partially savvy to the ways of the enlightened, and as such is aware that giving people aids is not a step on the eightfold path to nirvana.

My mate and I had our designs drawn up and booked in to have our pieces done the second morning we were in Antigua. A welcome change from my usual stumbling into a tattoo parlour, deciding on what seems like a good idea for a piece at the time and then getting said piece done all within the space of 20 minutes.

The end result; a quirky day of the dead inspired skull wearing a sombrero, with a couple of roses thrown in underneath for good measure. It’s probably my favourite piece so far and hopefully the first of many (or at least a couple) more, pre-planned international artist’s exhibitions to be showcased on my body…

That is so long as my girlfriend approves of them!


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