In 1938, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children’s book, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), crashed his plane in Guatemala. During his recuperation, he spent some time on Lake Atitlan, a volcanic lake about three hours outside of Guatemala City. There, as the legend goes, he saw the Cerro de Oro, “hill of gold,” that inspired a drawing and scene in The Little Prince, published in 1943. The hill, sitting at the edge of the beautiful volcanic lake, does resemble an elephant with a boa trailing off at its head and tail as if it were being consumed.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending a writers’ workshop conducted by writer Joyce Maynard. Joyce is author of several novels—including Labor Day, made into a motion picture with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin—and a memoir, At Home in the World, that partially describes how she met and developed a relationship with J.D. Salinger when she was 18 years old.
The workshop will be conducted in a town we have in common—San Marcos La Laguna. We both own houses there, and when my spouse and I were considering purchasing ours, a Google search revealed a story in the New York Times on Joyce’s.
With the Cerro de Oro in the distance, I hope for inspiration during this learning opportunity, and a chance to get to know Joyce and other workshop participants. As we ponder writing and produce our work, somewhere across the magnificent Lake Atitlan, a boa constrictor and an elephant in the form of a companion to volcanoes will be keeping watch.