Bulgarian Tattoos Forever

It was always a fear that one day a tattoo would be stabbed into your skin and it was there for life. Many have ad the misgiving and error of judgement for a fleeting moment full of regret but have to live with that decision indefinitely.

Somehow tattoos are ripe in Bulgaria, there are countless Bulgarian friends and acquaintances bearing tattoos it is a growing fashion here. For the foreigner in these lands bargains are to be had with the prices of professional tattoos being freely available.

Last year my brother, who over the years has built up an enormous amount of tattoos, decided to try adding to this in Bulgaria. Not only was he over the moon with the price and quality, he wanted to treat Galia and her son Ivo for finding him the tattoo artist and thank her for the help whilst he was here.

Ivo was already christened with a few tattoos but Galia was as this point tattoo free but was adamant she wanted the gift therefore took the gift gratefully as she went through the painful process. It was a simple black inked, five separate Chinese characters setting out the word ‘Galia’ located and scribed vertically on the top part of here back. She was more than happy with the gift and the tattoo now standing proud will draw much attention over an indefinite amount of time.

This was a year ago and the tattoo has become part of Galia’s character and that’s where I thought it might end.

Now Galia recently said she wanted another tattoo and booked it in to our unplanned schedule that following weekend but I had forgotten all about it by the time the weekend arrived.

So its Saturday, no work, a beautiful warm sunny day as we decided to go for a walk in the town. First stop was the tattoo shop to remind me of what she said earlier in the week. She really was going to get another tattoo then but I should have know, she always does what she says she is going to do.

The shop was a small but modern in a terrace of other small shops just one block away from the mainly pedestrian based walkway through Yambol town centre. There were Venetian blinds from top to bottom of the big windows preventing us from looking in; the shop was closed.

The times of opening were laid in easy to read Bulgarian and on Saturday it was a 10:00 start. We had arrived 15 minutes too early but I knew that this was all Bulgarian time and the decision to wait there was a bad one. Galia of course was used to waiting and had no qualms just standing there, me, I always had to be doing something and it felt like a waste of time just waiting. I felt we should get on with something else and come back later. Galia won the case of course and the waiting took hold of us.

During this time we were greatly entertained by drivers coming up this narrow side street to try and enter the main walkway into town. Today was not a good day for doing this as there was a much respected policeman waiting at the top end of the road loving his work and authority by telling drivers they couldn’t access the road. The reason was it was end of term for the school with an open day. With the crowds of parents and school children, traffic was basically banned in that area. Kindergarten music was blaring out in the public street as I remember last year, it was a party atmosphere in town today>

The funniest thing about the redirection of traffic was there wasn’t any signs or indications that the road was closed. It was as if this was done purposely to give the sole policeman the satisfaction of personally sending cars back down the single-track road. Of course most had to mount the pavement, scrap the bottoms of their cars on the high-rise kerbs. Delivery vans were the most entertaining as they literally bashed their way reversing bake with other smaller vehicle lined up behind then having to get out of their way by whatever means.

Still waiting and watching a another entertaining show of builders 100 feet up working on the edge of a new apartment complex being built. They were within centimetres of their death without any scaffolding or perimeter surround. It made me very nervous watching as they hammered and sawed their way around dicing with danger. One slip and they fall to their death I kept thinking.

Waiting there certainly wasn’t boring with these going on around us. But 10:00 had gone long ago as the shop-owner next door saw us waiting. In between his never ending trail of children and parent customers, (the long-haired heavy metal merchant had a balloon shop and as mentioned it was end of school term and many balloons being sold) saw us continuously waiting there. He rang his business neighbour who said he would open at 11:00!

Still with much Bulgaria under my belt I doubted very much whether he would be there at 11:00! We went off to do other things rather than wait another 30 minutes.

Arriving back at 11:15, the blinds were up but the shop was still closed. We waited again for another 30 minutes at least before he finally arrived with a big box for his balloon shop owner. It was now almost midday and had finally we got served and the process of getting the tattoo Galia wanted came about.

It was a major surprise and complete loss of words when Galia said she wanted my name tattooed on her forearm!! I questioned why on earth would she want to do that? The simple answer came back ‘I love you very much!’ It was still very hard for me to accept that this was what she was doing so it went ahead, like I said Galia normally always does what she says she is going to do.

The Chinese symbols were looked up on the Internet and printed out. Than a transfer was made form the print out and printed on the arm in the appropriate place to be tattooed. A couple of reprinted were made until the positioning was made and the needle was prepared.

All over the walls in his studio there were certificates of the award this tattoo artist had achieved. Apart from the certificates of qualifications in the art he had won major competition held in Sofia; best of the show 2nd best in the show and 3rd place only last year. He is obviously held in high esteem to anyone who cares to look at these awards. It was reassuring that Galia was in safe, talented hands.

As the third session of waiting took place a man came into the shop with a coca cola bottle and asked if he could see if he had won a prize by looking up the cola web site. The owner gave a quick shake of the head, (that means yes) and he gaily went surfing for the site to confirm he had lost; well what did you expect.

A few moments later another customer entered, it was Katia, with her son another friend and daughter, whose birthday party we went to last year. Greetings given and goodbyes not before a catch up on the news in the middle, the tattoo artist fully involved in the conversation.

The waiting now over and the tattoo complete cling film was taped over the fresh ink injected area which had to remain for an hour or so. We paid 40 leva and went to celebrate with shopska salad and a drink outside in the warm lusciously green gardened area restaurant where the table for two was especially put in the shaded of a tree for us next to a fountain.

So the tattoo complete and still I am lost for words with my name on Galia’s arm. Well Bulgarians certainly don’t have any problem about expressing their feelings.

And me, I know I’m here with Galia for as long as that tattoo stays……