Simply Strays Nope, I did NOT ink a skull tattoo on my chest!

Published on March 17th, 2017


A Birthday TATTOO!

Frida Kahlo Day of the Dead Sugar Skull T-shirt

Yep, I did it again.

Nope, (though from that pic above, it might seem…) trust that I did NOT ink a skull on my chest, nor tattoo my entire face with a Frida Kahlo Day-of-the-Dead sugar skull (though I did buy a most nifty t-shirt in Mexico emblazoned with the latter).

But what I did do is – get my *5th* tat – yet again in remembrance of a foreign land I visited.  Actually, in this case – in part as a permanent souvenir of witnessing those wondrous Monarch butterflies dripping from the trees in Michoacán, Mexcio.  But even more than that…

The design for this particular tat was never in question.  Not only did I want a memento of those butterflies, but more importantly – I wanted a permanent reminder of my unbounded GRATITUDE for this wonderful life I’ve been given.  For my amazing good health at this dodderin’ age, for my (most privileged) ability to explore so many corners of this incredible globe (near 50 countries and counting!), and for the immense good fortune to be able to live such a sweet life here on this beautiful and tranquil mountain top in Cuenca, Ecuador.

But before we get into the details of this new birthday tattoo – let’s first take a look back at my older tattoos (a.k.a. Yes Virginia, tats do tend to be a bit addictive):

My tattoo collection: South Africa, Bali, Nepal and Easter Island

Clockwise from upper right: My first ever tattoo (at age 59!), a tiny “tranquility” kanji inked on my right foot while still loopy from jet-lag after 20+ hours in the air en route to Johannesburg, South Africa;  the Hindu “om” symbol, my memento of Bali.  Though I wanted it on my other foot, the tattoo artist gently explained that as a sacred symbol, it had to be somewhere “above the waist” – thus, I chose the underside of my left wrist;  my sacred “Manutara” bird tat – a souvenir to forever remember that I once rose before dawn to witness sunrise behind those legendary moai on Easter Island;  and finally, my beloved Nepal ankle bracelet.

And for this new one?  As I said:  GRATITUDE.  I wanted this one to express my supreme thankfulness for my many blessings.  But of course, given that my adopted home is now Ecuador – I opted to get the tat inscribed with the Spanish word for Gratitude:


So a custom design: a sprinkle of butterflies to remind me of a life-long dream-come-true, plus a single word that I honestly murmur at the end of each and every day.

The printout of my custom designed "Agradecido" butterfly tattoo.

The only thing left was deciding where to put it.  At first I thought it would look great splayed across the top of my left foot from the ankle to the toes.  But then… I’ve been somewhat timid in my prior tattoo choices, tucking them demurely here and there where mostly only I can see them. For this expression of thankfulness, I wanted to be a bit more bold – so I opted to trail it along the side of my right forearm.

And um yes – that bitty needle hurt a smidge…

Um, no pain-no gain when it comes to tattoos!

But hey – when it comes to tats, no-pain, no-gain, yes?  And the result is PERFECT!

Woo-hoo - my new birthday "Agradecido" tattoo!

Close up of my new "Agradecido" (Grateful) tattoo.

A fitting reminder of my many blessings.


Path Custom Art Tattoo Sudio

Oh, and for those here in Cuenca who might likewise fancy an ink, I can highly recommend “Pat” at Path Custom Art Tattoo Studio. He’s very creative and his work is impeccable.

The shop is located in a small indoor mall hidden away at the corner of Padre Aquirre and Gran Columbia in El Centro. There’s two entrances to the mall – one on Gran Columbia and the other on Padre Aguirre. The latter is what you want – Pat’s shop is just inside the Padre Aquirre entrance. Tell him the TravelnLass sent you!

My collection of travel tattoos.

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

10 Responses to A Birthday TATTOO!

  1. Each of our sons acquired tattoos pretty much as soon as they didn’t require parental permission. I’ve never felt the urge although at this point, I feel that Mr. and Mrs. Excitement are the only people on the beach without at least one. I was 26 before I even got my ears pierced, so clearly I’m a late adopter when it comes to body ornamentation. I love your Nepalese ankle bracelet “tat”. Ever since downsizing, we’ve limited ourselves to refrigerator magnets as travel momentos. Body art is the ultimate way to take home a memory without adding to one’s baggage. PS: Shouldn’t it have been “Agradecida” with a final “a” or is it not an adverb?

    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed Suzanne, I too hardly qualify as an “early adopter” when it comes to tats. As I mentioned – my first was in South Africa at nearly 60! So there’s still hope for you! ;)​

      And yes, clearly travel tats are the ultimate backpacker’s “minimalist” souvenirs. I once thought I’d just go for a series of tiny stars on my ankle for each country I visited, but… even then, I’d already visited too many to be collectively practical as a series of tats.

      And nope, “Agradecido” here is used as an adjective (as in, I am… grateful, not gratefully) and my (Ecuadorian) tattoo artist assured me it was correct.

  2. A perfect tattoo Dyanne, that echoes my own feelings of gratitude for these “golden years” when those of us lucky enough to recognize all the opportunities around us can travel, find adventures large and small and live wherever we want. You show that finding happiness isn’t about what you have but how you approach each day with optimism and enthusiasm. Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday and hoping your next year will bring you many new and amazing experiences!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go kindly contributed to world literature by posting…New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina: When the Levees FailedMy Profile

  3. Leslie in Oregon says:

    I’ll always be “out there,” reading your blog (until I go on to Whatever Comes Next). Have you written about your time living in Oregon? I grew up here (in the Willamette Valley), left for a long while, then returned. I just love living near both the mountains and the ocean, in a temperate (weather) and liberal (human) climate. Hope to spend long stretches of time abroad when we no longer have dogs. I enjoyed reading about what each of your beautiful tats represents. I do not have any ink reminders of something special; not sure why not, other than I carry many such reminders elsewhere.

    • Dyanne says:

      Just glad to hear from you personally Leslie, and nope – alas my time in Oregon was before I started TravelnLass. I have mighty sweet memories of it though – 6 years living in Coos Bay (my sister still lives there), clamming, crabbing, picking blackberries, younameit. Then 6 more years as a single mom going to school in Eugene – lots of river rafting, birdwatching at Malheur, skiing at Bachelor, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, et al.

      Yes indeed, the very best of mountains, valleys, and that ocean… Though I’ve personally dipped toes in many an ocean on this wondrous globe, I’ve *always* maintained the the Oregon Coast is the!

  4. Kate Savory says:

    Love it! Very creative, too. I also have a memento tattoo–a custom lotus flower–that I got in Valencia, Spain. And I have thought seriously of getting one of a Monarch butterfly since my bucket list trip last month. Where to put it? My lotus is above my ankle…OUCH!! I’d pick a fleshier place next time. 😄

    • Dyanne says:

      I hear ya on the “OUCH!”, Kate – my Nepal ankle bracelet proved a good bit ouchy to be sure. But the truth is – after awhile, I get used to the pain (especially if they play Eagle’s “Hotel California”, etc. tunes while doing it). 😉 And it’s always so worth it to have such a permanent memento of special places/moments in my life.

      Those Monarch’s are definitely worthy of a tat – why not on your forearm similar to mine – it only took about 45 minutes and didn’t hurt that much at all.

  5. Leslie in Oregon says:

    Awesome tattoos (literally) and Happy Birthday!!! You are, as always, a mighty inspiration!

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks Leslie, glad to know you’re still “out there” in Oregon (one of my favorite previous “homes”) reading my blather. And yes, each of my tats represents some special moment in my life. Do you likewise have any “ink” reminders of something special?

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