Regardless of where one might live in the world, the further that they travel from civilization the less control that they have of their surroundings and their environment around them. If they travel far enough they are left to the mercy of a world without law, a world that governs itself entirely by the ability to survive. Since I’ve been back in South America, I’ve heard quite a few stories about the Amazon as well as people disappearing. Most of them have been about people getting lost in the forest and are never heard from again, however not long ago a friend of mine shared a story with me about the reason how some of these people become lost.
We stood on an empty sidewalk just outside of our hotel, after just returning from dinner. He began telling me about the Chullachaqui, a spirit of the forest who guards and protects it. The spirit is able to take the form of any person, and often tries to trick people into following him into the forest and then disappears, abandoning them. The only way that one is able to discern that he is a spirit and not a friend or loved one is that one of his feet will always be different, often times taking form of the foot of an animal.
He started out telling me of a man that he knows who worked with petroleum deep in the Amazon, who I will call Diego. One evening after finishing work, Diego as well as the rest of his crew left the job site to walk on a narrow path weaving through the forest back to their campsite. Javier, the man’s friend had to go to the bathroom- so he walked a short distance off of the main trail. After a few minutes of Javier not returning, Diego called his name and quickly heard a response saying that he would be right over. After a while longer of waiting Diego was getting concerned, and once again called Javier’s name- although this time there was no response. He called once again; nothing. He carefully followed Javier’s path, careful not to get lost. He was able to find the area where Javier had used the bathroom, but there was no sign of him. He thought to himself that Javier was probably playing a joke on him, and had actually cut through the forest and ran ahead. Surely he would be back at camp by the time that he returned. Diego returned to the camp and found all of the men sitting around the fire, but there was no sign of Javier. He asked the men if they had seen him; they looked at him puzzled, shocked that he was missing. They spent some time calling for Javier and did what they could to search- contacting the other camps in the area by radio to see if they had seen him, without any luck.
After five days Diego’s camp received a call from a campsite miles and miles away saying that a man, completely naked, had appeared at their campsite from the depths of the jungle. He couldn’t speak, and appeared completely delirious. He thought that just maybe it could be Javier, so he called. After explaining Javier’s physical characteristics to the man on the phone, he agreed that it did sound like Javier- so they arranged transportation to get him back to the camp. Sure enough, it was Javier. Completely unable to speak and seeming in an alternate state of mind, they contacted Javier’s parents. After they had arrived and picked him up, they admitted Javier into a mental institution. After a month, Javier’s father picked took him out of the hospital and worked with him- and before long, Javier had made a full recovery.
Time went by and Javier continued to improve. Diego, eager to find out what exactly had happened to Javier was able to arrange a time to meet with him. After asking him what had happened the day that he disappeared when he went to use the bathroom, Javier responded by saying that he heard Diego calling his name, and responded accordingly. He then went on to explain that he saw Diego join him off of the trail, and said to him that a little ways away there was fruit that they could eat- so he followed him into the forest. After some time walking Diego completely disappeared. Nightfall had come, and Javier was now both alone and had absolutely no idea where he was. He tried to find a way back to the trail, unknowingly wandering deeper into the forest. After that that moment he had no further recollection of what had occurred.