• Butterflies in Bucaramanga

Butterflies in Bucaramanga


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978-1-897126-70-7 | 2010 September | 224 Pages


Tanna Patterson-Z's fictionalized account of the 1998 kidnapping of driller Edward Leonard by the leftist guerrilla forces of Colombia guides readers deep into the physical and political terrain of a beautiful but dangerous country that remains off-limits to the casual traveller. Butterflies in Bucaramanga is the story of a man who gets caught in the collision between Western corporate imperatives and revolutionary politics—and whose unlikely obsession with the beautiful blue morpho butterfly proves key to his survival, and his reunion with his family back home in British Columbia.

The summer before Will Edwards was kidnapped in Colombia, a medicine man told him he held the spirit of the butterfly. That was fine, but Will had participated in the healing ceremony in hopes of easing his inflamed knees, not because of an urge to fly.

Jake Across-the-Mountain was a reputable healer. People from Monarch Valley claimed that fire jumped from his hands. Jake told Will he didn’t know if he could erase the effects of thirty years of hard-rock diamond drilling, but he’d give it a go. Both men agreed this was not to be a sacred sweat—Will did not wish to offend Jake by pretending he was a blood brother in search of a miracle cure. It was simply a case of bad knees bringing friends together on a late August afternoon.

By mid-ceremony, Will’s concentration had crashed. With streaming eyes and a throat as dry as the sizzling juniper before him, he could no longer hear Jake moaning away in a language more akin to wind and tree than human speech. He thought only of escape, of getting outside and freeing himself from the smoke-filled tepee. When Jake revived the embers with a second handful of juniper, Will fell into a coughing fit that nearly rocked him off his fake-fur car seat cover. He began to wonder if this healing ceremony would kill him.

Will wished he could believe in the magic of the ceremony, but the ritual seemed sadly out of touch with the present day. When his mother was alive, the ancient ways held power. Her Cree medicines worked in harmony with the older, slower pace of life.

So when Jake opened his eyes and looked through his transition lenses set in their allergy-free, flexible titanium frame and asked Will to describe what he felt, Will stared back blankly. He didn’t want to admit that his legs were cramping and he couldn’t breathe. Jake waited. Will recalled a soft brush against his cheek, but he assumed that a sign of healing would be… well, bigger. His knees still hurt as he awkwardly hauled himself upright. He shook his head and grinned at Jake. No. Nothing.

Jake ducked out of the tepee and held the flap open for Will. Instantly revived by the flood of fresh air, Will greedily sucked buckets of air into his singed lungs. The summer sun soaked the men in gold as it slid behind the purple mountains beyond the river. They meandered along a path through Jake’s backyard—a tangle of tall grasses, timothy, and wildflowers. Giant yellow swallowtailed butterflies, copper, blue, white, grey, sulphurous yellow butterflies, tiny elfin butterflies, speckled, checkered, angle-winged, frayed, and ragged butterflies surrounded them. The dusty golden light shimmered with their collective wing movement.

Jake absorbed the sight. “So it is true,” he said.

Will looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“You have the spirit of the butterfly.”

Within a week, the inflammation in Will’s knees subsided. He golfed a seventy-eight and got his first hole-in-one. A thousand golf swings later, Will Edwards accepted the foreman’s position from the owner of a small drilling company operating in Colombia.