Nearly a year ago, Edith Bliss of Quebec and her Italian partner Luca Taketo managed to escape from the camp where they were held hostage for 450 days, and walk across the desert in the middle of the night. With the risk of being beaten and chained in a situation their jailers are unlikely to follow.
“I was ready to die when I left,” the 36-year-old said in a phone interview. Journalism. Our chances of success were very slim. ”
They managed not only to direct themselves towards the road, but also to stop a car to drive them towards the city. They were no longer far from Kidal in northern Mali. Good Samaritans left them at the United Nations peacekeeping mission, where they were taken care of.
Sherbrooke tells her story in the book Hourglass – hostage in the desert for 450 days, It will be released on February 17th. When she returned in March 2020, she had not given interviews and few details had been revealed, especially regarding the circumstances surrounding the two travelers’ return to freedom.
Abducted in Burkina Faso
In her book, she goes back to that fateful day of December 17, 2018. Edith Bliss and Luca Taketo were at that time in Burkina Faso, on the road to neighboring Benin. Armed men waited for them on the road, warning that the two strangers would soon pass.
They have been kidnapped. The jihadists were held hostage for over a year in various makeshift camps in West Africa, and were separated from each other for nearly the entire duration of their captivity.
In her story, she wrote, “I was a hostage to them, which means treasure and less than nothing.”
This detention was also marked by the harshness of the desert, with intense heat, cold nights, deprivation and isolation. And the length of time.
“I think it’s hard for someone who hasn’t experienced that to understand how long 450 days can be spent on Earth, in the heat,” she says, laughing. I tried to write how time can stretch, so that it can become unbearable. ”
Tell yourself in the poems
In the desert, she began writing poems when she had a pencil about once a day. I managed to redo 57 with her.
He interspersed his book with his drawings.
“The hourglass was trying to reverse / drag the man into its path / redistribute his captive time. / There was no escape in the desert,” she writes for example to 94H Captured Day.
Moreover, it is a collection of poems that she intended to publish upon her return to Quebec, before she chose to narrate her experience.
I realized that my family and friends wanted to know a little bit about my story. I couldn’t see myself explaining it every time.
She adds that turning this agonizing time into words has been beneficial for her.
Nightmares on the way back
She feels well coped upon her return, although nightmares have plagued her repeatedly for six months.
“I was a prisoner every night,” she says. Or a desert, or at home, or somewhere … I lost my freedom and became a prisoner again. ”
The bad dreams have faded since then.
Restaurant employee Edith Bliss traveled to Western Canada last summer, as she has in the past.
At first, I was dreading going back into the world, but when I went west, it really felt satisfied to start living life again. To work every day, to walk, to have my freedom …
She remains in contact with her friend Luca Taketo and adds that she has also spoken to Sophie Petronin, a 74-year-old French woman who was held by the same jihadist group for four years and released last fall.
Despite the hardships, Edith Blaze says she has drawn some positivity from her experience. “I became aware of all that I had, of all the beauty of life,” she asserts.
Once the epidemic is over, the frequent flyer intends to return to South America, where she has already resided. But she says she has “set a cross” on Africa.
“I still have travel plans,” she laughs. When you can. ”
“Evil thinker. Music scholar. Hipster-friendly communicator. Bacon geek. Amateur internet enthusiast. Introvert.”