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Old 04-01-2014, 06:57 PM
Location: North Dakota
740 posts, read 1,831,451 times
Reputation: 540


Hey guys,

I thought I would share with the forum something that happened to me July of 2011. The event rocked my world, but has lead me on an amazing path. I have an adventurous spirit, and have always had a gypsy-like life style. Pre-event, I was agnostic. I had no idea what I believed in. Now I am highly spiritual, but not religious. The event tested me in every way that I believe a human being can be tested. Here is my story, but know that it is a fairly long read and about 95% complete. I will do a summary of the end.

Realize this event is absolutely 100% based on fact. It happened to me as written with no exaggeration, and if absolutely necessary, could be proven. Personally, I am okay with dis-believers.

Also know that this is the rough draft and contains typos and grammar errors.

.................................................. .................................................. ..............................

On July 2nd, 2011, my life was turned upside down..literally. But before i go into details, let me back up a bit.

A couple weeks previously, i had met up with a gold prospecting acquaintance of mine. He was aware that i was looking for an opportunity to do a little gold prospecting. After we chatted for a couple of hours he described a beautiful river system that had a lot of potential. Considering he spent many years on this river, without any problems, it felt like a great opportunity for a solo traveler like myself. My plan was to head up this lightly traveled trail system and camp in my jungle hammock and do some sampling for a few days.

This region is beyond beautiful and extremely wild. Miles upon miles of vibrant, emerald green rainforest with small, meandering waterfalls. Dozens of orchid species frequent the area adding even more color. Everywhere you look, you see life, and the air is as pure as snow is cold. To my weary soul, this area was paradise. If you study the ground, you will see even more life. Hundreds of species of insects all doing what insects do. From the interesting leaf cutter ant harvesting, and carrying away massive leaves multiple times their size; to your busy bees pollinating the dozens of species of colorful flowers flourishing in the region.

Tequila, my little white terrier puppy who was given to me by a friend was my loyal traveling companion. He was an amazing puppy and like myself, he must have felt this little stretch of rainforest was paradise. He was approximately four months old and may have weighed three pounds soaking wet. Even though he was tiny in size, he made up for it with his huge heart. He would follow me like my shadow, under, over and around the various obstacles that we frequently encountered. Some of the obstacles included huge trees that were blown over and fast flowing streams. If he trailed behind a bit, i would quickly hear a panicky yip reminding me of his presence. When the going got too rough for him, I would pick him up and cradle him in a little pouch I made just for that purpose. He especially loved to cuddle when the weather turned sour. Oh, how quickly I grew fond of him and how badly the little guy is missed.

The trail system was lightly maintained but still offered numerous challenges. In this region of the world, it rained...a lot! There is a reason it is called a rainforest. Just about every night you could expect a torrential thunderstorm, combining deafening thunder and dancing lightening. The rain was so dense that it would reduce your visibility to only a few feet, with the rain itself feeling like a thousand tiny needles prickling your skin. The result of these frequent storms would be the massive fallen trees crossing the trails and endless sticky mud. On many occasions the mud was so deep, that it came up to my waist.

My plan was to camp for a few days at a time followed by a quick trip to town to shower and restock supplies. With two successful, exciting trips under my belt; I felt relatively confident in my jungle survival skills. Both Tequila and I were enjoying ourselves and we even found a little gold to pay our minuscule bills. It wasn't until my third trip in which things went downhill very, very fast.

Two days into my third trip the rain started. It was late evening, around 10 pm. The storm was intense with giant, sopping wet rain drops. The thunder boomed and the electrical charge of the lightening continued hour after hour. On occasion i could hear the splintering of massive trees surrendering to the heavy rain and howling wind. At this point, this is by far the most destructive of all storms i have experienced. No, Mother Nature wasn't just angry...she was downright furious! All night the storm raged and at approximately four hours in, my beloved jungle hammock started leaking. This hammock has been exceptional and it was advertised as torrential rain-proof. I guess they need to add a disclaimer excluding Amazonian rainforest storms. Poor little Tequila was shivering in fright from the raging storm and from being wet and cold. I covered him up more deeply under my two blankets. It is surprising how cold it gets in the rainforest, especially being so close to such a large river and of course from being soaked to the bone. The leak inside forced me to crawl out of my cozy little hammock and out into the storm. Luckily i had a chunk of plastic that i used as a tarp. It was miserable though, securing the plastic in the midst of the raging storm. The storm from hell lasted about six hours and I can only imagine how many inches rain fell in that time, eight inches, ten inches? Who knows. We actually awoke to a fairly nice morning. You know how the air seems unusually pure right after a heavy rain? We had that.

Now let me try and describe the majestic beauty of the river. Its name is Jatunyacu, which means big water in Quechuan, one of the native people's in the area. Big water....they got that right. Generally the river is classified as a class III to class IV. When the weather turns sour, it is an easy class V. The river was raging so hard, that you could actually hear gargantuan boulders the size of small houses rolling and clashing under water. How do I know that there are boulders that size? Because they are littered all over the beaches. The Jatunyacu is actually the head-waters of the Napo, which is in itself one of the great tributaries of the mighty Amazon river. So you have this huge river nestled in some really rugged and beautiful country. The other feature of this area is that it borders the infamous Llanganati mountains in the Llanganati national park. This region is well known for being dangerous and unforgiving to all those who enter. The area is also legendary for the Inca king, Atahualpa's ransom. This is quite the story and I feel it is worth blogging about down the road seeing as it is a region of great interest to me.

So it was probably about 6 am, with the sky finally settling down. Our supplies were getting low and poor Tequila and I were soaked to the bone. The tiny one and I sat in communion for a moment, and we made the decision to head back to the city of Tena for badly needed rest. Unfortunately, my time with Tequila was so very short, so very short indeed.

We began our two to three hour trek out. The trail was swampy as expected with some really sticky mud that tried with all its might to bring us under. The streams we passed on our way in were now small rivers with exceptionally strong currents. Like the mud, they also tried to suck us down. It took us about one and a half hours to make it to the area known as the "piscina" which means pool in Spanish. This area has been turned into a quaint, beautiful little swimming area that serves beer, which of course means a tourist trap. The piscina also represents the start of the trail system leading to my prospecting camp. This pool is formed from a cascading waterfall which joins two other rivers. The area is all exposed bedrock which creates natural slides and it's actually a lot of fun.

Generally the area is a hopping place loaded with tourists, but due to the high water and safety concerns, the piscina was shut down. I passed through a dead zone in which not a single soul was in the area. Usually I will buy a beer and chat with some of the tourists, in which most are clueless that a trail system even exists beyond the pool.

I decided to settle down for a bit and to check for a phone signal. This is a critical moment when i made the horrible realization that i hadn't shut off my phone and that it was completely dead. Getting in and out of here was quite difficult, but usually i am able to hitch a ride with one of the tourist vans that pass through from Tena. Ironically, I never had to use my phone in the past and found out later that there is no cell service out here anyways.

As time passes, I grow more and more frustrated, because during my previous trips, transportation to Tena was never an issue. Here I am stranded; with dwindling supplies, but I knew from experience that there is a village about two miles away in the direction of Tena. After making the fateful decision to head that direction, Tequila and I pack up(about sixty pounds of gear now, compared to my previously combined weight of one-hundred pounds, which includes my drinking water, that i started with) and commence to leave the piscina.

(Looking back)*This was a critical moment. I had a small machete, but i stupidly covered it with my bulky backpack. Maybe my future attackers would not have messed with me if they had been able to see my machete within easy reach. I think about this often.*

The way out is a fairly smooth, winding gravel road, and generally there is occasional traffic, whether from the white-water rafting tour companies, or from tourists heading to the piscina. To my left is a natural cliff of eroding stone varying from seventy-five to a couple hundred feet. During rainy periods(like today), small cascading waterfalls were common. to my right, down a steep cliff, lies the majestic Jatunyacu nestled in deep jungle. Even from up above, you can hear the river roaring like an angry lion down below. This area has an Avatar-like feel to it, and to me it is paradise.

After walking for approximately half a mile, I see what I thought was a wonderful sight. Before me, on a silver bicycle are two young men. One of the men is standing on the rear of the bike on pegs mounted to the frame. If I had to guess their age, I would say eighteen to twenty. Both of them are shirtless, and were chatting away in Spanish. Both guys were exceptionally ripped with bulging muscles. "Hola!"(hello, which is one of the few Spanish words i knew at this time.) They both stop and give me a smile with a casual arm wave as if saying hello. They then jabber in Spanish and wait for my answer. I shrug, and say "Lo siento. No entiendo!"(*I am sorry, I don't understand). I pull out my dead cell phone and point at it. "Telefono taxi por favor?"(my broken Spanish for...please call a taxi). They nod yes, and one of them pulls out his cell phone. After 10 seconds he says something to me, realizes i don't understand and simply says "no" while pointing to his phone. He then jabbers what sounded like gibberish to me and points up the road.

I follow behind at a safe distance and notice a familiar sign ahead. "Peligro"', it reads. Amazingly, I actually knew it meant danger. I sometimes feel it was the spirits trying to warn me, but in actuality it's warning you of a washed out section of the road. Just ahead past the sign, the road curves upward and to the right. As I was walking up the hill a bit, I again see the young men ahead. I notice they seem to peer down at the monstrous river below which seems to snake in and out of sight. Even with all these small warning signs, my guard was still down. They just seemed like your average guys being helpful, and up to this point, I had no reason to be fearful for my life.

(Looking back). *I often ask myself "Was there any signs of the impending attack?" The answer is always a sound no. They seemed like your average young men out messing around. Not the kind of people you would expect such savagery from. They were damned fine actors. During the actual assault, I remember staring into those eyes, those soulless eyes. Wow, they were good.*

About thirty or so seconds later, they again do a signal check with their phone. To their delight, they have a signal and the man with the phone commences to give me a thumbs up and a smile. At this point, they are probably about thirty to forty feet ahead of me and slowly begin to walk towards me while speaking on the phone. In reality this was all a ruse, and it was little Tequila who gave me a quick, but unfortunately, too late of a warning. The little guy started growling with pure hatred, a side of him I had yet to experience. Too late! Like two battering rams attempting to take down the most impenetrable castle gate, they bowled me over.

Pure chaos followed. Everything seemed to conspire against me. One of my biggest obstacles was the 70 pound backpack locked on my back. Agh, why didn't I get a backpack with quick release? I was like a poor turtle flipped on his back, and to top it off, I had two murderers further pinning me in place. Once they had me locked down, all hell broke loose and in-comes the pain-train. The stockier of the two monsters began unloading punches with his hammer-like fist. Blow after blow rained down on me and in only a few seconds I began seeing stars. Like a veracious pit-bull, he relentlessly focused on my right eye. As the blows continued to fall, it didn't take long for the second guy to get a strangle-hold on me. For a moment, all my attention was focused on blocking the never-ending blows. It wasn't until my vision started blurring that I realized I was very close to blacking out, and that would be the death of me. This is the point where full adrenaline took over. Like a volcano building pressure, my rage intensified. Who do these guys think they are? How dare they try to end my life....what the hell did I even do? WHY!?! WHYYY!?!

Fear for my life was soon being replaced by a growing rage. Deep down, I knew what I had to do. Mustering all my strength, I heaved. I heaved for myself, for my friends and family and lastly I heaved for my little guy Tequila who depended on me. With in-human strength, born of rage and desperation, my would-be assassins went air-born. Both landed a good eight to ten feet from me, and in momentary confusion. This relatively scrawny white guy just tossed them off like a twig in a tornado. Unfortunately, most of my remaining energy was spent and the adrenaline was wearing off. With the adrenaline dissipating, fatigue and pain soon followed, but unfortunately, it only took a second or two for scumbags to recover and they were on me again. This is the point where I hear a familiar yip and considering his tiny size, a fierce growl. If only little Tequila had been a German shepherd or pit bull, things may have been different. Like raging bulls, I am charged by the two monsters. They again bowl me over and this time they seem to be focused on unlocking my backpack. Considering the backpack is doing much more harm than good, I attempt to work with them. A sudden horror descends on me with the realization that with the backpack free, they could have access to my machete. After a few-second wresting match, the two guys not only manage to get the backpack off of me, but they unsheathe my machete and continue to surprise me. Instead of hacking me with my own machete, one of the men tosses it away. After another few seconds of trying to keep them away, or at least off of me, they manage to pin me down. Things turn for the worse(if this is even possible) when the realization hits me like a battering ram that they are trying to secure my arms and my legs. I continue to try and free myself by frantically squirming and kicking at them. It unfortunately didn't take long for them to gain solid grips, and the dragging starts.

(Looking back). *It was crazy how they seemed to be able to communicate without actual words, as if by telepathy. It became pretty obvious to me how this entire skirmish and murder had been planned from beginning to end. Looking into their empty eyes also told me something else. No remorse, and that this was just another day to them.*

To my horror I am being dragged closer and closer to the edge of the cliff with the raging river below screaming for my blood. Eventually they use their titan-like strength to heave me off. Fully airborne, I have been tossed like a piece of garbage.

(More thoughts) *You always hear the saying "time seemed to fast-forward". I don't agree with this statement, for instead time seemed to come to a crawl. Slow, slow motion.*

The first free-fall seemed to go on forever, though in reality it probably only lasted a second or two. If I had to guess, I would say that the first drop was about twenty to twenty-five feet. The rainforest can be quite cushioned due to all the plant growth, especially moss. Eventually, after what felt like forever, I hit the ground and rolled with small drops followed by more contact. This cliff wasn't entirely vertical, but it was close. The second free-fall was another story and it was the point in my life where my spirituality was tested.

(More thoughts) *For most of my life, up until this very day, I have considered myself slightly spiritual. I have always believed something is out there, but I could never tell you exactly what. Mainstream religion never has and never will work for me. This attempt on my life has caused me to become FULLY spiritual, because I learned first hand, that not only was it not my time to go, but that I also had a guardian angel sheltering me this day. It was in the form of a plant: whipping, crawling vines in particular. Mother nature had my back*

It was amazing how through out all of this rolling, bouncing and falling I never lost consciousness. I was fully aware of what was occurring. Many people do not believe when I tell them about how vines moved and helped slow my fall. On more than one occasion they cradled me, slowed my fall and guided me to safer areas. This second and last fall was probably in the fifty to sixty foot range. Without those beautiful vines, I would have died. Without those blessed vines, I would be just a memory to my friends and family. Nature has been very important to me, and nature has been my personal salvation.

After the second horrible free-fall I again start bouncing and rolling. I believe adrenaline is what is more or less keeping me conscience and alert and very much alive. Towards the bottom of the cliff, there is a section before the final drop into the furious, raging river that begins to taper off. Flourishing at this point is a rather large tree. A feeling of relative calm envelops me, and I suddenly know what I have to do in order to survive. Grab that tree! My tumble has slowed a bit at this point and with a burst of strength, I make a final hopeful grab. That glorious tree is more precious to me than all the wealth in the world. Mother Nature continues to be my savior and my hands make contact. With triumph, I pull myself up on the trunk and just sit still for a minute; dazed, yet alive.

After only approximately thirty seconds of rest, my situation hits me full force. Two guys just made a very solid attempt on my life. I survived, but am at the bottom of a cliff and pretty heavily wounded. After taking note of my injuries, I make the realization that I am in pretty rough shape and time is my enemy. Pain is minimal due to adrenaline, but eventually it will wear off. My right leg is injured and walking is difficult, but not impossible. Most likely a sprain. Worst off, my right eye is swollen shut. There are dozens of scrapes and cuts all over my body. After only a minute or two, I hear the most horrible sound I will hopefully ever experience. It is very familiar and grows in intensity as the sound approaches. The fearful wale, mixed with yips of complete terror. My beloved puppy has been brutally thrown and I am hearing him descend to most likely his death. The wale is so loud, that it even overpowers the roaring of the river only a few meters away. The horrible sound continues to build in intensity, followed by a horrible, sudden silence. That silence was even more deafening than the river itself.

(Sadly thinking back). *Tequila was special. He was only about five months old when he died, but It felt like I had a lifetime with him. Two and a half years later I can still hear the horrible sound of his wale, and I don't think I will ever forget it. RIP Tequila. I hope you are in a happier place filled with peace.*

It takes an truly evil person to toss a tiny puppy to his death. Strangely, I could almost forgive people with robbery, but murder(especially a pup) has gone too far. I was excited about having Tequila in my life, and how wonderful company he was. He happily cuddled with me in my hammock and it seemed to him that life was quite alright. It was a blast watching him chase butterflies and investigate whatever little critter we stumbled across. Unlike the majority of most small dogs, he never yapped just to hear his own voice. He had been amazing company.

While contemplating how evil human beings can be, I see various articles of my backpack, including clothing raining down around me. A couple items got hung up in some of the smaller trees. Either they were lightening the load, or they were getting rid of evidence, and so they must have felt that Tequila had been just another liability. Up until this point, I was feeling quite hopeless. Hopelessness was now being replaced by raw anger. They will not win. They MUST not win! Another thought fueled the fire. My family has no idea where I am. They knew I was in Ecuador, but not my exact location. In their eyes, I would have had simply vanished with no trace. I can't just sit here and wallow in self pity. I have always been a fighter, so why stop now?

For the first time I have a detailed look around. Articles of clothing, shoes, water bottles and even a shiny, red upside-down wheel barrow. It was in pretty good condition with very little rust. Considering the average daily wage for an Ecuadorian was about $15.00, they would not have casually tossed aside such a useful tool. It quickly became apparent to me that the wheel barrow was evidence and it was tossed aside. Factor in all the clothing, shoes and water bottles, it became obvious that I wasn't the only person the scumbags killed or tried to kill. To top off my brutal predicament, due to the heavy rains, everything was soaking wet and very slippery.

Looking at the tree, I noticed the closeness of the river just a short fall below. The beauty had grown at the very edge of the small cliff and was probably partly responsible for the prevention of erosion. The tree had truly been my salvation. If a precious little seed hadn't landed in that exact spot, and if it hadn't defied the odds against germination, I would have continued to roll off the last cliff into the raging river to my death. Thank you Mother Nature.

After another moment of contemplating my situation, I come to a few positive conclusions. Number one being that it must be late morning, so luckily I had many hours of daylight left, which was a reassurance. Secondly, water wasn't much of an issue since there were numerous partial bottles of water around me. A few opposing thoughts crossed my mind as well. One, my adrenaline was going to wear off soon and the pain was going to heighten and most likely it would interfere with the possibility of climbing out. Two, originally I considered securing some torn clothing to the end of a branch of my sacred tree and create a brightly colored flag. Any white-water rafters cruising by would most likely see it and find it very odd. Then a sudden realization hit me. I knew from past experience that I was unfortunately upriver from the starting point of the rafters. My flag would not be seen and I could not be saved. Finally, a thought creeped through my mind like a wil-o-the-wisp. Climbing out was going to be nearly impossible with my right eye completely swollen shut.

This is pretty much the point when a full realization slammed into me like a mack truck. I had zero doubt that I was meant to live. The path through which I had fallen had been relatively clear ahead of me, yet I was cradled and protected by vines. I am pretty darn sure that today is not my day to die. For whatever reason my life has been spared, but why?

After considering my dilemmas, I knew I had to make a decision. I can either lay down and die, or I can try and climb out which seemed about as likely as raising the Titanic. If I were to die here, my family would never be at peace. In their eyes, I would have simply disappeared. I couldn't allow that, and I couldn't let the monsters get away with murder. I had to climb out and report this madness to the authorities so that it doesn't happen again. Frustration slowly builds to anger, followed by a red-hot rage. I ...WILL...NOT..LET....THEM...WIN!

Forcing myself to cool down a bit, I attempt to reverse my mindset to that of a survivor. Besides the obvious direction of up, I could go left and right. My swollen, brutalized right eye made the choice for me. Left it is. It was difficult for me to make that decision due to the fact that I was going in the direction opposite of the village and what seemed like safety. Considering the steep, rugged climb ahead; I need every advantage possible.

(An aside) *Upon my attack I was wearing a pair of beige shorts and a red, striped shirt. I also had a light-weight rain jacket and some hiking boots. Besides the boots, I still have all of those articles of clothing today. Right after the fall, I took inventory of what was still in my pockets. I almost busted out laughing when I made the discovery that my water bottle of gold flakes mixed with the original black-sand was still in my pocket. Both black sand and gold are very heavy and I would say the bottle probably weighed half a pound. It was probably only about two grams of gold so I made the decision to leave it as an offering of gratitude between the branches of my beloved tree. I bet it is still there today.*

After making the decision of abandoning the gold, I replaced the weight with something way more valuable; bottles of water in each pocket. So began my, exhausting and very dangerous climb up the cliff. The left path started out with a gradual ascent for the first fifteen feet, until I hit my first real obstacle, which was a sprawling but dense bush. The attempt of going up and around it failed when I hit a patch of eroding rock. My only option was to head back down and creep around it. After about fifteen minutes of slowly backtracking along slippery surfaces, I arrive on the other side.

(Thinking back) *A major cause of discomfort that you experience in the rainforest is ants. There were thousands of them around me. I was continually being bitten throughout the climb without a way to swat them. In the end, I bet I had at least a hundred, if not two-hundred bites throughout my body and especially my arms. Ugh, those little guys hurt. My choice was straight forward. I either ignore them, or I risk my life trying to swat them. I chose the former. Survival is a complete mental game. Added to the issue of ants is the constant wet and slippery surfaces, due to the heavy rain from the previous night.*

Unfortunately, a horrible sight befell me. Just ahead of me, part of the cliff face had eroded away. It is a complete vertical drop straight into the chaotic maelstrom that is the river. It consisted of powdered, loose rock with no vegetation holding it in place. The way to my left is impassable, and saying that I was disheartened would be a huge understatement. Not only can I not push forward, but I will have to waste precious time and energy heading back.

I clearly remember the feeling of hopelessness that again overcomes me, and I did something that I rarely ever do; I pray. "Please, whoever you are, continue to protect and guide me out of this mess." This was the gist of the prayer, anyways. Upon completion, I take a huge deep breath and begin my journey back to my sacred tree. After awhile, with only a couple minor slips and another dozen ant bites, I again find myself again leaning against my guardian. Now is the time I begin the near impossible. With my right eye swollen shut, I will have to slowly inch my way along using only my opposite eye for guidance.

(A few thoughts on free-hand climbing)* Another trial I experienced was the shallow root system of most plants I had to grasp to pull myself along. It was a common problem to pull on a decent-sized tree to only have it uproot on you. Imagine if I have my right foot on a solid branch, but there is no way to advance my left leg forward. This is where I would have to rely on my upper body strength using my core muscles and arms only, and to quickly switch feet. This was frequently the only tactic that allowed me to advance forward.(It is critically important that the branch you are grabbing is strong enough to support your full weight) This was useful when I came across a more dense section of branches. Luckily for me I was part monkey and probably spent half my younger years in trees. When I was seven or eight years old, I fell fifty or sixty feet out of an ancient pecan tree and the only thing slowing my fall were the massive limbs. I walked away from that with only scrapes and a few bruises. I believe that my years of experience tree-climbing, combined with the experience of the fall, and lastly my beautiful guardian angel were all important factors of my survival.

I had zero doubt that time was my enemy, and like the bubonic plague spreading across Europe, pain continued to heighten. Progressing with my accent was an incredibly slow process. The thing is, before I even considered creeping forward, I had to turn my head sharply to my right and study each potential handhold. Then after the decision was made, I would have to reach forward in an awkward angle just so that I could advance inch by inch, foot by foot. Various obstacles stood before me, always ending with the need to skirt around them.

I vividly remember one specific slip that I occurred while switchbacking around a huge, prickly bush. I had what I thought was a solid hand-hold on a thick branch, due to it feeling sturdy and strong. I can only imagine the expression that must have crossed my face when I felt the branch give followed by a thunderous crack as it split in half. The situation I put myself in was dire, and grew worse as gravity once again took over. The total distance of the fall must have been about eight to ten feet. There was only one obstacle in my way to a deadly fall in the churning river below, and that was a thick tree branch. With my full weight behind me, I racked myself head on. Ow! Like a beached whale, I writhed around in pain and all I could do was attempt to steady myself while I sat still and let the throbbing discomfort subside. Amazingly, my life was spared by yet another tree, but unfortunately the fall put me in a very precarious position. This lone tree grew out of crumbling rock at a twisted angle, and the only way for me to climb back up was to stand up on the base of the tree trunk. Chances were good that the root system was very shallow and that the tree would up-root and take me on a final wild ride. For the second time that day, I prayed to my guardian angel thanking him/her for sparing my life so far and to help me survive all of my remaining obstacles. I believe my prayer was answered for after willing myself to stand up, I was able to safely grab the upper branches of the tree and with great relief I am able to heave myself up to the original location of my unfortunate slip.

(Thoughts) *This was the second to the last major, life-threatening obstacle ahead of me for which I was thankful. After scaling up the tree, I was able to rest for a moment and regain my bearing. It took a bit of time for pain to subside and for me to be able to think relatively clearly again. Over time, the pain was slowly returning but it is my belief that many of these near-slips kept my adrenaline flowing, which gave me ability to continue on. It is very difficult to explain how I was able to think clearly, considering my precarious situation. It is believed that humans are capable of remarkable feats of strength when under great stress and after this insanity, I am a convinced. A perfect example would be various stories of people lifting vehicles to save lives. Do a google search and be amazed. The idea of adrenaline and what it does for the human body in times of need is remarkable. My situation was really no different.*

Now I have a dilemma, due to this cursed bush once again blocking my path. With the original tree splintered, and pulled free that caused me to fall, being gone, I now have no way to skirt them bush. The surface of the ground ahead of me is very spongy, with only a smattering of small plants and trees growing in the area. The way ahead is basically impassible. After studying my surroundings, and especially the bush above me, I notice a decent sized tree has it overshadowed. Another observation of note is that sections of root are occasionally poking out of the soft surface all over the area around me. An wild idea forms.

(An aside)* Permaculture and organic gardening have been very important to me and I understand from experience the sprawling nature of tree roots. This knowledge, I believe, aided in my ability to push forward and overcome my final obstacle.*

My thought was that if I search patiently, I will most likely be able to find part of the root system, take note of it by marking its location with a stick, and eventually scale across by stepping on the lower roote, and digging my fingers in and grabbing the upper roots. The spongy soil easily gives way to my probing fingers and after four or five attempts, with great relief, I locate my first root. If I had to guess, this entire process most likely took about an hour. With my heart beating wildly, and my arms straining, I slowly advanced. The distance across was probably about ten feet, but felt more like a hundred feet. Pure insanity!

(A thought) *While slowly inching my way across, I heard an interesting sound. It sounded like a motor of a vehicle of some kind. Car, truck, or possibly a motorcycle. It sounded like it was heading from my right to my left towards the piscina. It was a reassuring sound and I filed it away.*

Finally reaching my goal, which was a section of ground that sloped gently, I was able to take a badly needed breather. Besides surviving the initial fall, this root-scaling had been by far my greatest challenge of not only my day, but my life. While resting for a moment, I notice something ahead of me that looked very promising. Some time ago: weeks, months, or even years, it appeared that a great landslide had occurred, and wiped out many large trees. Ahead of me, stacked end to end somewhat covered in loose gravel and mud, was a Mother Nature made miracle. Trees were uprooted one after another and created what, to me, appeared to be a ladder. The trees were in almost perfect position to be scaled upwards, or so I prayed. This was it, my way out of here! For the first time since the beginning of my assault, I felt true hope.

Reaching the first up-rooted tree proved fairly easy due to all the heavy growth in this area. Climbing up the first tree brought me even more hope, and I was able to continue scaling vertically. Soon, I was a promising fifty to sixty feet above the river with more up-rooted trees above me. Tree after beautiful tree behind me, and like a majestic eagle, my hope soared. Salvation lies ahead! Seventy feet turns into eighty and eighty becomes a hundred and finally I see what appears to be the end as I see a break ahead. Laying before me is massive tree that started the landslide that has saved my life. Like a mountaineer scaling the peak of K1, I push forward and upward to victory.

The ground levels off to a heavily wooded area, and ahead of I see a glimpse of the gravel road ahead. As stealthily as possible, I creep forward and hide in a nearby bush that offers a view of the road. It is still full daylight and I have completely lost track of time. Is it 2 pm, or 5? The sun sets at 6:30 like clock-work and once the sun starts setting, it is only a matter of minutes before it's pitch black. Every part of my body, from my throat to my toes, is in agony. If I had it, I would pay a million dollars to crawl into a soft bed and crash for days. Laying under the sprawling bush, though hopeful, I realize I am still in danger. The last thing I would like to occur, is to run into my two friends in my current condition.

With the decision made, I begin my journey back towards the piscina. Gimping along, I can't help but being a bit paranoid. I realize my life would be over if I again ran into my would-be murderers, and slowly, with crawling progression I slowly push onward. I am completely unarmed, so I search around for a couple fist-sized rocks. After what feels like forever, I hear one of the most wonderful sounds I have ever heard. Voices, not that of men, but a women and possibly children. As I approach the gate into the piscina, I see a motorcycle parked just outside. The fence is your typical chain-link and approximately five feet high. On the other side of the fence, enjoying what appears to be a picnic, is a beautiful Kechua family. The family consists of a woman, a small child; approximately three years old, an older child; probably about six or seven, and a young man; about fifteen or sixteen. I can only imagine how I appeared to them; a bloody bedraggled gringo mess, something out of a horror story to the little ones.

It was a pleasant surprise witnessing the look of compassion that appeared on the mother and son's faces. They: especially the teenager, rushed forward to assist me in having a seat at the table. This is a point where I wished I was fluent in Spanish. It was very difficult in my condition to explain the situation of my attack. With numerous gestures and the few Spanish words I did know, I was able to get my point across. The gist of my story: there is danger nearby in the form of a couple guys who attempted to murder me. I made gestures of being punched, followed by a heaving motion of being tossed and thrown into the huge river below. The only Spanish words I could think of to drive my points home were "peligro! peligro!" Danger, danger I was telling them. "Dos hombres, muy peligro!" Two men, very dangerous! After another moment of catching my breath, the mother and oldest son exchanged a few words. The young man nods in what seemed to be a final agreement and an end to the conversation. He quickly approaches me and out of what seemed to be of great respect, helped support my weight by allowing me to lean on him. In the same day I have met both evil men, and this amazing family who has offered me hope. Both groups complete polar opposites but both from the same indigenous tribe.

After limping along with the support of the young man, we eventually hobble to his motorcycle. In my current condition, mounting the motorcycle was about about as challenging as the ascent of Mt. Everest. Cruising along the serpentine road with the roaring river below drowning out the rumble of the motorcycle, I couldn't help but dread winding a curve and running into the pair of my would-be murderers. Fear has unfortunately taken over my survival instincts and has wrested control of my emotions. Fortunately, no punk kids were seen and we eventually arrived in the little village. It being a Saturday after a period of heavy rain was the cause of many people being out and about. The young man quickly drove me to the house of what turned out to he a Tena police officer. Luckily, not only was he home but he was also outside tinkering on his police motorcycle. A local with a beaten, bleeding gringo riding on his small bike caused quite a stir with a good four or five people quickly approaching. One of them was the police officer, and after a couple minute chat with the young man, quickly gestured me over to his police motorcycle. I again found myself riding on the back and we quickly took off in the direction of the city of Tena.

(A thought) *i remember how fast the police officer was driving the motorcycle, and how for the second time in an hour fear enveloped me. We must have been going about 80 miles per hour on a fairly windy and still damp road. It would have been almost ironic to have survived my ordeal to crash and die so close to town. Luckily, we safely arrived in Tena and at the police station.*

My arrival at the police station caused a huge stir. There were other sick people in the waiting area, but even their attention was drawn to the bleeding and battered gringo. Communication was our biggest obstacle but being a huge bleeding mess is a sort of universal language, and it was fairly obvious I had most likely been beaten and seriously needed help. They quickly rushed me inside and gave me some pain killers by injection(no idea exactly which type, but didn't overly care in my condition). After about 15 minutes of failing to describe exactly what happened to me, a man who knew a little English was found as a translator. Our communication was still seriously lacking: but between the young man's story to my original police officer who drove me to Tena, and what I could feebly explain to my translator, everything fell into place. After making sure that my health was not going to de-escalate, my translator asked me about where I have been staying.


Now in summary:
I was dropped off at the hotel I have been staying at while in Tena by the police. I used a friend in the area as a translator, and basically slept for the next 3 to 4 days. My injuries were pretty severe. My right eye was completely swollen shut, I had a severe sprain in my leg, scrapes and cuts all over my body, a laceration across my neck from the strangulation, probably close to 200 ant bites and my entire body was beyond sore. The worst injury was my neck and the orbital bone of my eye(for months I experienced a strange electricity like flash, which was frustrating; especially at night.) My throat still bugs me to this day and my voice is still raspier than normal.

As you can imagine, my family was hysterical and wanted me home. My mother contacted the Us embassy in Quito and explained the situation of the attempted murder. I did not leave and stayed in Ecuador for over a year after the event. By nature, I am not a runner and still felt Ecuador was my home.

Pre-day of hell, i would have considered myself agnostic. Now I am highly spiritual. After experiencing what I did, how could I believe otherwise?

Now, this will also sound strange to some people. A few months after my attack I had a set of recurring dreams that were vivid. The dream was simple and consisted of vines shooting from the ground and launching up and intertwining dream trees. These vines were exactly the same as the ones who saved me during the fall.

It wasn't long after that I mentioned the dream to a friend and they said it sounds like the B. Caapi vine, or Ayahuasca. This connected and started about two years of research. This eventually led me to an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru where I had an amazing ceremony.

I believe I was kept alive for a reason and the synchronicitys over the last year have been amazing, and I feel like I am being protected and guided by someone or possibly something benevolent.

I believe in Mother Earth and that God is in all of us, as our conscience: but I do not agree with mainstream religion, Heaven and Hell. I went from a confused soul to someone who feels as if he has purpose.

Hopefully you enjoyed my survival story and I will freely answer any questions.

Last edited by Alaskan_Adventurer; 04-01-2014 at 07:11 PM..
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:08 PM
Status: "Celebrating." (set 9 days ago)
Location: Ontario, Canada
30,044 posts, read 15,794,443 times
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Sorry, friend.

I'm going to have to wait for the Readers Digest Condensed Version.

But I'm pleased you made a great subject line which covers the pertinent bases.

Glad you survived and happy for your spiritual growth.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:56 AM
Location: Southern Oregon
17,071 posts, read 8,665,134 times
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It's a good story but it needs a lot of polishing.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:42 AM
25,736 posts, read 27,229,933 times
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I think you should be on I Shouldn't Be Alive, OP!
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:58 PM
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Question: Sorry for the loss of your dog but....why on earth would you take a three pound dog into a jungle full of bees, scorpions, snakes, sucking mud, class 5 rapids and growth so thick you needed a machete to make a path?
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:04 PM
Location: North Dakota
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Originally Posted by DewDropInn View Post
Question: Sorry for the loss of your dog but....why on earth would you take a three pound dog into a jungle full of bees, scorpions, snakes, sucking mud, class 5 rapids and growth so thick you needed a machete to make a path?
Why wouldn't you? He is an Ecuadorian dog, loves to be outside and was given to me as a gift. Don't you take your dog camping? Besides, he was curled up in a little hammock around my neck the majority of the time. Like most dogs, he loved the outdoors.

Actually, besides the occasional fallen tree, the path was fairly clear.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:06 PM
Location: North Dakota
740 posts, read 1,831,451 times
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Thanks for the comments, and yes, it does need a lot of polishing.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:27 PM
32,525 posts, read 32,880,229 times
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Originally Posted by Alaskan_Adventurer View Post
Why wouldn't you? He is an Ecuadorian dog,.
Because Class V rapids don't care that he's an Ecuadorian dog.

Again, sorry for the loss of your pup. I'm glad you survived.

Last edited by DewDropInn; 04-02-2014 at 02:47 PM..
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:13 PM
Location: North Dakota
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Originally Posted by DewDropInn View Post
Because Class V rapids don't care that he's an Ecuadorian dog.

Again, sorry for the loss of your pup. I'm glad you survived.

Happy to be alive as well.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:23 AM
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,145 posts, read 20,412,505 times
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People are more worried about the dog?! You should see how dogs are thought of and treated in the Amazon... sounds like this pooch had a short, but better life than any other dog down there.

I feel for ya OP, I had my own brush with death in Bolivia almost 17 years ago, though it wasn't a robbery. The Amazon is beautiful but they don't call it the "green hell" for nothing.
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