The Bolivian Amazon is one of the last wild places left on earth. It’s vast swaths of thick jungle team with life… both beautiful and dangerous. Every year, thousands of people journey to this wilderness for an experience like no other, but things don’t always go as planned.
25-Yr-Old Maykool Coroseo Acuña, of Santaigo, Chile, arrived at the Max Adventures basecamp in the Bolivian jungle in late February, 2017. Situated on the edge of Madini National Park in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, the adventure resort boasts the most untamed country on earth.
The day before any excursion into the rainforest, the Bolivian guides insist on performing a ceremonial ritual to bless their journey and placate their deity Pachamama, who could be compared to ‘Mother Earth.’ When called to participate in the ceremony, Acuña refused and was seen walking toward his cabin and acting erratically.
But when a fellow adventurer went to check on him, Acuña was nowhere to be found.
It was then that the alarm was raised and the ceremony cut short. Because Acuña went missing soon after his refusal to participate in their ceremony, the villagers were convinced that,“…he offended the Pachamama.” Feizar Nava, the owner of the adventure agency, said. “He didn’t want to participate in the ceremony.”
The entire camp searched for Acuña until 5am, but there was no trace of the Chilean adventurer.
The camp contacted authorities, who also believed that Acuña had offended Pachamama, decided that a shaman was needed to bring Acuña back from the spirit realm. So two well known shaman, Romulo and his wife Tiburcia, were brought into the camp.
“Shamans arrived at the lodge, carrying thick blocks of sugar tableaux, cigarettes, cans of beer, coca leaves, wine bottles, candles, sparkling confetti, and a large wooden cross—all materials they would need to breach the spiritual domain.”
For the next 6 days, the medicine man and his wife performed every ceremony they had knowledge of to bring Acuña’s soul back from the spirit world.
Then after an exhausting search over 6 days, for almost 10 hours a day, the team found a small symbol of hope: a single muddy sock on the jungle floor.
Confirming the sock belonged to Acuña, the shamans were overjoyed. To their culture, finding the sock meant his soul was finally starting to return from the netherworld. They promised more signs of him would follow, and that Acuña would soon be found.
Three days later, park rangers were docking their boat when they heard cries coming from down river, “Boat! Boat! Hey!” we heard faintly. The rangers scrambled, revving up their boat motor and rushing towards the cries.
Acuña’s own sister, Rocío, who had flown from Chile to join the search, rushed towards the cries to find the long lost, and very lucky man.
Acuña was dehydrated and delirious after 9 days alone in the jungle, but still in his right mind. “I want a Coca Cola,” he joked when he first saw his sister.
The night of his disappearance, Acuña remembers very negative and scary thoughts dominating his mind to a breaking point. As he walked away from the grass hut where the ceremony was being performed, Acuña had a terrible and overwhelming urge to get out of the rain forest.
“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.”
Acuña does not believe he was possessed by some evil spirit or that Pachamama prodded his moment of insanity. All he knows is he survived an ordeal that few men would have. The circumstance of his survival is more amazing still.
Amazingly, Acuña claims that he owes his survival to a troupe of monkeys.
When the young man regained his senses, he stumbled on the primates in the jungle. They dropped fruit from the trees for him to eat and allowed him to follow them to shelter. Acuña followed the monkeys for 9 days until he was finally found weak and bruised, but alive.
This tale of survival twists and turns every which way, but despite the details, the reality of Acuña’s survival is miraculous.
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