Tourist lost in the jungle for nine days saved in unexpected way

Some real-life stories sound like they were ripped from the pages of an adventure novel. But one mystery that happened in the Bolivian Amazon late this February had witnesses: a group of tourists were taking a tour through Madidi National Park, led by Max Adventures, a local agency. On the first night, something bizarre occurred. A member of the group named Mayckool Jhovan Coroseo disappeared from his cabin without a trace.

His fellow travelers thought they'd noticed something out of the ordinary about the 25-year-old Chilean...

After that first day in the jungle, he’d become agitated. “He was acting a little bit strange,” explained Feizar Nava, the agency’s owner. Mayckool hadn’t wanted to participate in a traditional worship ceremony to the earth goddess Pachamama, in which they burn incense in a ritual to thank her for “allowing them to enter the forest.”

Now in the Bolivian lowlands, the forest is considered a powerful place inhabited by mystical entities, both good and bad. The strength of these regional, spiritual beliefs is such that even official law enforcement recognizes them. So Feizar genuinely thought that this could have offended the goddess, who might then have sent an evil spirit called Duende to take Mayckool to another dimension.

Certain that Mayckool had been abducted by Duende, one of the guides asked for help from two local shamans, Tiburcio and his wife. They were tasked with helping the young man return to this dimension and all day long for almost a week, the tour guides and shamans searched the jungle hoping to rescue the lost Chilean. The shamans meanwhile paid tribute to the goddess, begging for mercy.

Six days in, they found their first clue: Mayckool’s sock. Tiburcio and his wife took it as a window into the lost man’s soul. (Or sole..?!)

Encouraged, they continued the search. Three days later — nine full days after the young man had disappeared, they found him! 

He was alive, and only half a mile away from the cabin. He was severely dehydrated though, covered with mosquito bites, and had an incredible story to share. 

The night he disappeared, he had become anxious and extremely restless. He felt an uncontrollable need to leave the group and go deeper into the jungle. “I started running,” he recounted. “I was wearing sandals but I thought, no, they’ll slow me down. I threw them away, then my cell phone, and later my flashlight. After running a long way, I stopped under a tree to catch my breath and started thinking for the first time. ‘What had I done? What was I doing?’ Once I wanted to go back, it was too late.”

Being out in the wilderness with a new group of people, performing strange rituals and surrounded by mysterious jungle had had a powerful, perhaps negative, effect on him. But there was nothing he could do now: he’d reacted instinctually, without stopping to consider the situation.

And then as he sat there, beginning to despair, something absolutely extraordinary happened. A piece of fruit dropped down on the ground next to him. He looked up startled, and saw little eyes peering down at him through the dense foliage. Monkeys! But why had they thrown the fruit at him? They waited as he tried it.

Now very thirsty, he felt restored by the juicy nourishment. Then they threw another piece. Soon Mayckool realized that it was deliberate: this troop of monkeys was taking care of him. They dropped more fruit near him from the branches above and over the next days led him to water and to sheltered places he could rest. 

Without them, he would have died of hunger or thirst. But the monkeys’ sense of solidarity protected him. He’d never imagined such a connection was possible but these wild animals took care of him, carefully shepherding him through the forest until he was found.

The locals may still have been convinced that Duende possessed and kidnapped him, but Mayckool himself didn’t — and didn’t feel particularly beholden to the shamans. He was, however, totally overwhelmed with gratitude to the family of monkeys whose support saved, and changed, his life. 

Whether or not there are spirits in the world’s jungles, there certainly are spirited animals like these monkeys! In the end they did just as good a job helping a lost man as his compatriots did — it’s enough to inspire you to step up, when it’s time to protect animals like them and their habitat in the jungle, no?!

Either way, thank goodness Mayckool made it back to civilization safely, and all in one piece! 

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