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Long Street, Small World

August 20, 2012

My tattoo adventure in Cape Town…

I had arrived in South Africa’s capital city having already had the trip of a lifetime – I’d just spent two amazing weeks diving with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai.

As a result my time in Cape Town was a chance to see and do some of the more touristy things that I’d yet to experience; a peninsula tour to Cape Point, a trip to the political prison on Robben Island and a bit of shopping along the V & A Waterfront. Oh and get a tattoo. I guess that one’s not on everybody’s itinerary. Actually, it wasn’t really on mine until I’d arrived in the city and was walking down Long Street, a popular street in Cape Town.

I had wanted a specific design (a feather) for a long time and a friend I’d met during my shark adventures drew it up for me in case I ever decided to get it done.  Although the design had nothing to do with my trip, it could still remind me of the amazing time I’d had.

I’d decided to do a bit of research into reputable tattoo places in and around Cape Town and although many looked professional I was still reluctant to go to somewhere completely unknown to me that hadn’t been recommended by anyone I knew.

However as I was walking down Long Street I passed one of the shops that I’d researched completely by chance, it seemed like fate so I decided to go for it.

I walked in, handed over the design I wanted and waited while the receptionist called up an artist to come in and draw it up for me. When he returned I was slightly alarmed at the size of the drawing, I had originally wanted a small tattoo and it had turned out much bigger than I’d expected.

I was told that if the tattoo was any smaller the fine lines that made up the feather could blur and merge over time. So faced with this ultimatum I asked if I could go away and think about it, which I did, assuming I’d probably come back another day…

I walked straight from the tattoo shop to a café I’d grown to love. I sat there with a coffee and started playing around with the stencil, positioning it in different ways and trying to picture what the final outcome would look like.

‘Are you getting a tattoo?’ It was as I sat there that one of the waiters approached me and it turned out that not only was he a good friend of my would-be tattooist but he’d been tattooed by him as well. Unfortunately his body art was in a ‘private place’ so I couldn’t take a look at the handy work! But at least I’d got the recommendation I was looking for and he seemed to like my design too.

‘Right, I’m doing it!’ I got up and headed back to the tattoo place, comforted by the new recommendation. I was about four doors away from the shop and could feel the butterflies flying around my stomach when I suddenly had a tinge of uncertainty. I needed five more minutes to attempt some clear-headed thinking before taking the plunge and veered off into the nearest shop.

I was blindly flicking through the clothes on the sale rail whilst racking my brains for any reason not to do this and when I couldn’t think of any I decided to ask for one more opinion. I walked up to the young sales assistant and asked her if she knew anything about the tattoo shop a few doors down. ‘Oh yeah, It’s great. Where are you getting it done?’ I pointed to just below my wrist. ‘Are you getting a feather?’ How the hell did she know that? Was she a psychic? I asked her as much and it turned out that she’d been talking to my would-be artist when he got called in to draw my tattoo. What’s more, it turned out that as well as the waiter I’d spoken to earlier, she also had a tattoo by this same artist. It really is a small world!

Hers was on her neck so this time I was able to see it and it was nicely done. So that was it, I was finally convinced. It was as she helped me finalize where on my arm I should get it done that a familiar face popped around the door to say hi to the sales girl. It took a few seconds for us to recognize each other before we clicked ‘Hey, haven’t you got it done yet?!’  It was the waiter from the café I’d just been in.

That was enough coincidences for one day, I needed to get it done. So I went in, told the artist the whole story and sat back while he got to work. The tattoo turned out exactly how I wanted and actually, the size was perfect too. So I’m now the happy owner of a tattoo that was encouraged by what I’d call a small world on a Long Street!

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