He, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, arrived in Buenos Aires one night in October 1929 on the freighter Chargeurs Réuins. She, Consuelo SuncínHe did so almost a year later, in September 1930, on the luxurious ocean liner Massilia, both from France. Soon they crossed paths at a cultural event and lived a stormy relationship, full of rumors about infidelities, but they continued together until the fateful end of the French author.
This is the story of a large, clumsy-looking man with a somewhat hostile character who spent his life on the clouds, and a refined and small woman, accustomed to a life of high-class gatherings; an account of a prince with a free soul who loved a fragile rose.
He, 29 years old, was a shy bachelor with a lineage that reached the middle ages, an unknown aviator who was looking to forge a destiny in Aeroposta Argentina, a subsidiary of the Compagnie Aéropostale, and had already published his first feature, South Mail, with the prestigious Gallimard. She, also 29, twice widowed, had been born to a wealthy family in a Salvadoran town and arrived with the intention of collecting a debt that was due to her as an inheritance.
He is received by a director of the French company and two future fellow countrymen, the aviators Jean mermoz and Henri Guillaumet, who like him would die crashed and become heroes of their country. To her, a delegation of journalists eager to know what the widow of Enrique Gómez Carrillo, the prestigious Guatemalan literary critic, writer, journalist, and diplomat, known as the Prince of Chroniclers and who since the first presidency of Hipólito Yrigoyen he was an Argentine consul in Paris.
He stayed at the extinct Majestic hotel on Avenida de Mayo and the next day he left for the General Pacheco airport, where Almandos Almocid – an outstanding Argentine pilot who fought in the Great War – he had supervised the construction of two rickety hangars that would be the heart of the company. She arrived at the Hotel España, on the same charming avenue, where the same day he visited her Elpidio González, Interior Minister to take her to the meeting of President Yrigoyen.
And they finally met. It was on September 4, 1930 at a conference of Benjamin Cremieux, literary critic and translator who had an excruciating ending in the Buchenwald concentration camp, at the Van Riel gallery, on vibrant Florida Street, in a meeting organized by Amigos del Arte, which had as patrons to Victoria Ocampo.
After passing through the stage that had housed Le Courbusier, Keyserling, Ortega y Gasset and García Lorca, among others, it was Cremieux himself who produced the meeting.
Saintex, as the writer and aviator were called, never spoke of the matter, although Suncin described it in his autobiography Memories of the Rose: “I looked at the time and decided to say goodbye to Crémieux, for fear that he would try to retain me. As I was putting on my coat, a large, heavyset man burst into the hotel lobby. He came straight at me and tugged at my coat sleeves to keep me from putting it on. ‘You are leaving, and I just arrived. Stay a few minutes. ’ « But if I have to go, they wait for me. » Cremieux appeared and with a wide smile, said: ‘Yes, yes, Consuelo, he is the friend I had told you about. Already on the boat I told him that I would introduce him to an aviator that he would surely like, because he is a man who loves Latin America as much as you do. » The dark-haired man was so tall that to look at him, he had to raise his eyes.
She says that he invited her to fly to « see the stars », who despite rejecting him, ends up accepting the invitation. And that same night, together with Crémieux and the Catalan pianist Ricardo Viñes -who he had met on the trip to Buenos Aires-, they got on the small Laté 28, after a long and dusty trip to the Pacheco airport.
Suncin, who had been an outstanding student and a scholarship from the president of his country to study in the United States, maintains that during the flight, he wooed her and asked for a kiss, in exchange for not crashing the plane; that she did not agree – newly widowed as she was – until he did not rush the aircraft towards the river amid the cries of his companions. That later, Saintex took them all to their room in the Güemes Gallery, who fell asleep there, and that in the morning, alone, love was born.
For Paul Webster, biographer of the writer, it is possible that this story is true if one takes into account the romantic-dramatic developments that were the spirit of the relationship, although for the film director and writer Luis Saslavsky -insure Álvaro Bos in Look at the cathedral you inhabit– It was he who introduced them to the Richmond cafeteria.
The day after that first meeting, she received a 20-page letter, in which he related everything he had experienced in heaven, the forced descents, the storms, the landscapes, the flowers from above, the mountains and the Snow, on her most intimate vow, that of living only to fly, but that she could return to inhabit the soil if she accepted it, if she let him take her little hand. And he closed: « Your fiancé, if you wish. »
Together with Crémieux they shared some beers in the Munich cafeteria, where he related the book he was writing, which would be Night flight, the only novel he made from start to finish in Argentina. The next day, September 6, there was the coup d’etat of the ’30 that put Uriburu in government. He appears at her hotel, she rebukes him: « You are crazy, you have come all the way here in the middle of the revolution. » He replies, “Yes, I don’t care what happens down here. I’m used to living up there, playing everything for everything, do you understand girl? ”. That afternoon they went up to the terrace of the hotel, where he filmed what was happening on the streets. Saint-Exupéry documented much of his experience in the country on film, but all that archive was destroyed when the Nazis bombed his native house in France.
They went down to the room and found her turned. The military were looking for her as an agitator in the service of Yrigoyen, they fled to his apartment, where he asked again for her marriage. They decided to do it a few days later in the civil registry of Paraguay street. There were Crémieux and Viñes, as witnesses of her, Mermoz and Guillaumet, by his side. Everything was going well until Sainte began to cry compulsively and said: “Thank you, you are very good, you are very good. I can’t get married far from home. My mother will be here very soon ”. And they did not.
By the end of September they moved into an apartment together at Tagle 2846. She became a kind of personal secretary, rearranged her entire file, from women’s letters to aviation notes, and imposed a writing discipline on her: she gave him 5 blank pages that he had to return full after 3 hours or could not enter the bedroom.
But already then the conflicts began, fights that languished when he should fly and began a routine of conflicts that were dynamising happiness. And she decided to leave the city without saying anything to him. She embarked and at the time of the trip they began to call her, over and over again. An airplane flew over the boat, bobbing up and down, terrifying passengers.
Saint-Exupéry’s mother visited him in early 1931. He spoke to her about his passion for Consuelo and accepted the relationship. They married in April of that year in the family castle of Agay. However, her family never accepted her, after her tragic death in 1944, rejection increased, even Nelly de Vogué, a wealthy writer who had been her lover, counselor, and editor of her posthumous novel Citadel, dedicated just 10 lines to him in the first biography that was made.
What all the biographers of the writer do agree on is that the relationship was one of necessity and rejection: from clashing sources when they were together and from a withering nostalgia for the other when they were separated. There were separations, infidelities between the two, but no matter how tense the situation was, they ended up exhausted in eternal hugs, in cinematic kisses. « You don’t kiss me, you hurt me, you bite me, you eat me, » she said.
And he dedicated a simple but direct poem to her:
Consuelo: thanks for being my wife,
If they hurt me, I’ll have someone to heal me.
If they kill me, I will have someone to wait for in eternity.
If I go back, I’ll have someone to go to.
She died in 1979, and her Memories of the rose They were published in 2000. Finally, that big prince with a free soul and that delicate flower, somewhat selfish and capricious, were able to be together again.