Accustomed to tattoos on primarily young adults in California, I became aware of a higher than usual level of skin embellishment as we toured Cartagena, Colombia. A great many individuals, especially performers but also chicly attired men and women, sported usual and unusual skin designs of fish, flowers, skulls, snakes, rock bands, plus a few complete seascapes or jungle scenes. Complex skin piercings were also common. Weeks later, when we traveled on to Medellin, one of the first things I noticed was the absence of skin embellishment! Few piercings or tattoos on anyone, and we saw no men wearing earrings. (Tourists excepted.) During the months we traveled through the Andes, it continued to be the exception to see one.
We saw very few in Ecuador or in Peru. Because tattoos are part of the indigenous cultures, we expected them in the jungle areas and in towns nearby but visible tattoos were rarely to be found. We did see a few in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which is a coastal city like Cartagena.
I have no explanation, I did not ask. Just fun to observe how trends disseminate…and not!