My colleague Leah and I did a story about the tattoo culture in Honduras. While they’ve long faced a stigma as a sign of gangs and gang violence, tattoos are becoming more popular, particularly in Tegucigalpa, so we wanted to investigate what was driving this apparent shift. We spent time in a couple of tattoo shops across the city, talking to artists and the people they were tattooing. We spent time walking around and talking to people on the streets, including cops, asking them what their perceptions were of tattoos here in Honduras and of the people who get them. One afternoon, we interviewed a woman in her 40s who is a teacher and a mother of two. She was getting her first tattoo: a heart on her left shoulder, and inside the heart were three dolphins — her and her two sons — jumping over the the sea at sunset. Her family didn’t know she was getting one; she’d told only her sister. She joked with us, saying “Maybe I won’t sleep home tonight.”
This wasn’t the first time I did a story about tattoos. The first such story I did was in 2013 when I lived in Sydney, and I ended up getting my first tattoo: a small quote on my left wrist. I had a feeling that a similar series of events would unfold here in Honduras and that, after talking to so many people and interviewing so many artists, I’d want another tattoo. I had no idea what I wanted, just that I would want to get something.
So, on one of the last days in country, I decided to get my fourth tattoo. It’s small — a little moon on my right wrist — but the memory of getting it and the reporting that led me to get it is bigger than any tattoo I could ever get.
Alexandra Petri, 2019 Adelante Honduras fellow