Ute The Papier Mache Travel Goddess
a solo traveller I try to incorporate at least one classroom
experience into each of my journeys. I do this primarily
to meet other like travellers and simply to have fun. Recently,
I enrolled in a papier mache class in San Miguel D'Allende,
Mexico. My plan was to enjoy new company while creating
a colorful, make-believe animal for the kiddies back home.
What evolved from that experience was the totally unplanned
birth of Ute The Travel Goddess.
shocking pink pig...
popped into Lisa's studio on Saturday, the day after I arrived
in San Miguel.
you thought about what you'd like to make?," my instructor
Travel Goddess -- someone who looks out for all journey
women everywhere," I replied without skipping a beat.
Travel Goddess? What had happened to my plan for a purple
panda or a shocking pink pig for the kiddies? Was I channeling
someone else's thoughts or simply suffering from jetlag?
a fabulous idea," enthused Lisa.
I definitely had no choice. A pig was probably good for
a laugh but my Travel Goddess (not yet created) was already
being given high marks. Suddenly, the fate of all travelling
women everywhere weighed heavily on my shoulders. This Goddess
better be good; females worldwide would be counting on her
to protect them from crummy hotel rooms, lecherous tour
guides and bad bouts of Delhi Belly.
table tops and inspiration...
inviting studio space was a hodge podge of inspiration and
informality. A melange of papier mache projects in different
stages of production lay drying on shelves. Table tops were
cluttered with paint, light wire, brushes, strips of newspaper
and pots of paste. Three other women were already hard at
mentor walked me patiently through all the steps needed
for my papier mache project. I started with a wire figure,
a ball of paper for the head and then made connections with
masking tape, strengthening joints and adding detail. I
tore newspaper into strips, painted the pieces with paste
and built the body by layering these gooey bits. Before
I left class that day Lisa suggested that my Goddess should
have wings. Would I consider some homework?
your changes, then let her dry in the sun. You can paint
her next class," advised my teacher.
Goddess dangled from my balcony...
next morning I gave up my sightseeing and created cardboard
wings instead. How else could our Divine Lady flit from
country to country ministering to all those travelling women
who needed her?
Before leaving my hotel, I unceremoniously tied the Winged
Goddess to my balcony railing where she dangled and dried
under the perfectly blue Mexican sky.
first clouds appeared around five just as a girlfriend and
I were setting off for a glass of wine. The first drops
appeared on the taxi's windshield as we sped to my hotel
with visions of the soggy Goddess mess we were sure to find.
We needn't have worried. Clearly this 'deity in the making'
already had divine connections. Not a single drop had fallen
on that hotel balcony. She was totally intact and ready
for the Mexican colors I would clothe her in -- bright yellow,
hot pink and turquoise.
Goddess wears army boots...
the next two days our Goddess took on her final shape and
name. I was introduced (perhaps not by accident) to another
journey woman in a cafe. She said her name was Ute (Ootah),
from the German word meaning 'prosperity.' Ute
regaled me with intriguing travel tales and offered maps
to fatten my creation's skinny arms and legs. A wonderful
contribution! In return, I promised to name my Goddess after
her. With coffee cups held high, we toasted our chance meeting
and our newly named divinity.
through the wares at a San Miguel market, I found Goddess
Ute's appropriate footwear -- a five peso pair of miniature,
rubber army boots. They turned out to be a perfectly funky
fit for our Lady of Travel.
that same market, I found an artist who earned her living
by painting lovely faces on plaster angels. We chatted using
a funny mix of Spanish and English. She gave Ute heavily-lashed
eyes and graciously declined any payment for her offering.
The nose and mouth were donated by a young painter who didn't
look old enough to have fathered the four beautiful little
girls playing under his table. They all came out and giggled
as their daddy provided the rest of Ute's face.
sits with Air Canada crew...
old lady in a tiny shop sold me a multi-colored feather
duster. The yellow, pink and green feathers promised to
be perfect covering for the cardboard wings I'd created.
In Mexico City's airport, a bubbly schoolgirl fixed a Red
Cross donor sticker onto our Goddess. An Air Canada attendant
gave up one of her uniform buttons to add to Ute's growing
connection to female road warriors everywhere. And, to ensure
a safe flight home, that same attendant surrounded Our Lady
of Travel with pillows and let her sit with the rest of
the flight crew.
the Travel Goddess now resides in the Journeywoman office
and she's taken on a life of her own. She still requires
a lot of work before she's completely finished but I swear
she's watching over me already. I've just snagged a ridiculously
low plane fare to New York and next month one of my latest
travel stories is being published in a national newspaper.
All hail Ute, the Journeywoman Travel Goddess.