Fortean Times - - Strange Days -


In the Bo­li­vian Ama­zon, where vast rivers wind end­lessly through moun­tain­ous ter­rain and a thick blan­ket of fog creeps through the trees, the lo­cals say the jun­gle can swal­low you in a se­cond. Chilean tourist Maykool Coroseo Acuña, 25, sur­vived for nine days while lost in the depths of Ma­didi Na­tional Park, a pro­tected rain­for­est in the north­west of Bo­livia.

Acuña went miss­ing from his Max Ad­ven­tures tour group, which was stay­ing at a camp­ground near the Tuichi River. He was last seen sit­ting on the steps of his cabin around 8:30pm. Feizar Nava, who ran Max Ad­ven­tures, had in­vited the tourists to par­tic­i­pate in a Pachamama cer­e­mony – a rite in­volv­ing coca leaves, can­dles, and cig­a­rettes – to thank Pachamama, or Mother Earth, for giv­ing them per­mis­sion to en­ter the for­est. How­ever, Maykool re­fused, and when a guide vis­ited his cabin to check on him a mere five min­utes later, he was nowhere to be found. The group searched for him with torches un­til five in the morn­ing, without suc­cess. “It’s be­cause he of­fended the Pachamama,” Feizar said. “He didn’t want to par­tic­i­pate in the cer­e­mony.” An an­gry Pachamama could let you be driven mad by Duende, a mis­chievous sprite who hides his vic­tims in an­other di­men­sion.

Two well-known shamans were called in, and an­nounced that Duende had been har­ness­ing the en­ergy of Ma­pajo, a pow­er­ful tree spirit, to hide Maykool. Over the next week the rangers and guides searched for eight to 10 hours a day, each day in a dif­fer­ent sec­tion of rain­for­est. Then one of the rangers found a muddy sock which Maykool’s step­mother con­firmed was his. Af­ter two more sleep­less nights pray­ing to the Pachamama, the shamans claimed that they were fi­nally able to make con­tact with Acuña’s soul. “The sock made it much, much eas­ier for us to reach him,” they said, swear­ing that more signs of him would ap­pear in the com­ing days.

The next morn­ing he was found, less than a mile from the camp­ground. Nine days in the rain­for­est had left him de­hy­drated, his skin rav­aged by bites, bot­flies, and spines, his feet and an­kles painfully swollen. He said he was able to sur­vive by fol­low­ing a group of mon­keys, who dropped him fruit and led him to shel­ter and wa­ter ev­ery day. How­ever, the mos­qui­tos were eat­ing him alive, he was be­gin­ning to starve, and was be­com­ing more and more des­per­ate. “Yes­ter­day was when I re­ally made a prom­ise to God,” he said. “I got on my knees and asked Him with my heart to get me out of there.” It’s un­clear which species of pri­mates came to his res­cue, but Rosillo, Lu­cachi and Titi mon­keys are indige­nous to the area.

He said that the night he dis­ap­peared, strange, ter­ri­ble thoughts had crept into his mind, and he had an ir­re­sistible urge to get out of the rain­for­est. “I started run­ning,” he said. “I was wear­ing san­dals and I said no, they would slow me down. I threw away the san­dals, then the cell phone and my flash­light. And af­ter run­ning so much, I stopped un­der a tree and I started think­ing. What had I done, what was I do­ing? And when I wanted to get back it wasn’t pos­si­ble.” His res­cuers be­lieved that Duende drove him

tem­po­rar­ily in­sane and lured him into an­other

di­men­sion. Na­tional Geo­graphic, 24 Mar; New York Post, 25 Mar 2017.


An­ton Pilipa, 39, dis­ap­peared from Van­cou­ver in 2012. Al­most five years later, in Novem­ber 2016, he was dis­cov­ered wan­der­ing bare­foot with no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion near Manaus, cap­i­tal of Brazil’s jun­gle state of Ama­zonas. His trav­els ap­peared to have taken him more than 10,000 miles (16,000km). Af­ter cross­ing the US he would have tra­versed 10 other bor­ders in­clud­ing those of Mex­ico, Gu­atemala, Hon­duras, Panama and Colom­bia. He was on a mis­sion to get to the na­tional li­brary in Buenos Aires in Ar­gentina, but was turned away when he got there as he had no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. He then headed back north to the Brazil­ian rain­for­est. He was picked up by Brazil­ian-Cana­dian po­lice of­fi­cer He­lenice Vidi­gal who was de­ter­mined to re­turn him to his fam­ily and even­tu­ally made con­tact with his brother Stefan through Twit­ter. An­ton, who had bat­tled men­tal health prob­lems, had walked most of the way, as well as hitch­hik­ing and hid­ing in the back of trucks. He had sur­vived on fruit, nuts and berries and had found food and cloth­ing on rub­bish dumps. Stefan launched a crowd-fund­ing mis­sion to raise enough money to bring his brother home; but he fled from hos­pi­tal. A month later he was re­dis­cov­ered in the rain­for­est and placed in hos­pi­tal again, and his brother ar­rived to pick him up in late Jan­uary. “I know that I am very lucky to be alive,” he said. Sun, D.Mir­ror (on­line), 9 Feb; D.Tele­graph, 10 Feb 2017


A three-year-old boy sur­vived alone for three days in a re­mote Siberian for­est with only a small bar of choco­late. Tserin Dopchut had been un­der the care of his great grand­mother, but when her back was turned he ven­tured off near the vil­lage of Khut, lo­cated amid dense for­est in the Tuva Repub­lic, pos­si­bly fol­low­ing a puppy. His fa­ther serves in the army, and most of his fam­ily were gath­er­ing in the last hay in the fields when he van­ished. For 72 hours he braved plum­met­ing tem­per­a­tures, the threat of wild an­i­mals and the dan­ger of fall­ing into a fast-flow­ing river be­fore his un­cle even­tu­ally res­cued him. “The sit­u­a­tion was very dan­ger­ous,” said Ayas Saryglar, head of Tuva’s Civil De­fence and Emer­gen­cies agency. “The River My­nas is fast and cold. If a small child fell in, it would be cer­tain death. There are wolves and bears in the for­est. The bears are now fat­ten­ing for the win­ter. They can at­tack any­thing that moves. In ad­di­tion, it is warm dur­ing the day, but at night there are even frosts. If we con­sider that the kid dis­ap­peared dur­ing the day, he was not prop­erly dressed – only a shirt and shoes, no coat.”

A huge land and air search was launched, in­volv­ing more than 100 peo­ple – vil­lagers, kins­folk and lo­cal po­lice­men – and a he­li­copter scour­ing a vast area of about 120 km2 (46 sq miles). The child was saved when he recog­nised his un­cle’s voice call­ing his name, and called back. His res­cue was an­nounced by the head of the Tuva Repub­lic, Shol­ban KaraOol, who blogged: “Hur­ray! Lit­tle Tserin has been found alive!” Af­ter be­ing hugged, his first ques­tion was whether his toy car was OK. Res­cuers were quick to praise the tod­dler’s ini­tia­tive – he found a dry place un­der a larch tree and slept be­tween its roots. The whole vil­lage (pop­u­la­tion 400) threw a party to cel­e­brate his sur­vival. “It is now pre­dicted he will be­come a res­cuer him­self,” said Shol­ban Kara-Ool, “be­cause he showed in­cred­i­ble stamina for his age by sur­viv­ing for so long alone in these cold woods.” Siberian Times, 21 Sept; BBC News, 22 Sept 2016.

TOP: Chilean tourist Maykool Coroseo Acuña is res­cued by Bo­li­vian rangers, guides and shamans af­ter nine days in the jun­gle.

LEFT: An­ton Pilipa dis­ap­peared from Van­cou­ver in 2012 and was found wan­der­ing in Brazil. BE­LOW: Three-year-old Tserin Dopchut sur­vived for three days in a re­mote Siberian for­est.

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