In the Peruvian jungle, a woman and her children were found lost and had been eating wild berries and fruit for 34 days.
In December, a 40-year-old woman and her children, ages 10, 12 and 14, were vacationing in a remote region of Colombia near the border with Peru. They went to meet the children’s father but got lost in the jungle near the Putumayo River, a tributary of the Amazon that flows through Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
They learned of their disappearance on December 19. For the next month the mother and children walked through the jungle along the Putumayo River, crossed the border into Ecuador, and ended up in Peru. Along the way they gathered and ate wild berries, fruits, and seeds. The tired travelers were discovered by the Secoya Indians. After 34 days in the jungle, the woman and children were exhausted from hunger and thirst, their legs covered in cuts and their bodies covered in insect bite marks.
“If we didn’t have water every 30 minutes, we fell from weakness,” the woman recalled. – All the time we had to stop because the girls couldn’t walk anymore.”
The Indians informed the Peruvian military about the woman and children. They contacted their Colombian counterparts. A hovercraft was sent to pick up the family and bring them to the Colombian city of Puerto Legisamo. There they were treated and checked for infectious diseases that mosquitoes carry, including malaria and yellow fever.
According to Oliva Perez, when they lost their way on the first day, she decided to camp under a tree and spend the night in the woods. However, the next day and the day after that they continued to wander around the Putumayo River and could not find their way. For the first five days they ate nothing but water from the streams. Then the children began to catch fish in the streams, pulling them out with their hands. They also gathered wild fruits and seeds, although it was quite dangerous.
“The seeds could have been poisonous. But I ate them with everyone else. Because if the children ate them and I didn’t, I would stay alive and they would die. That outcome for me would have been death alive,” Oliva Perez said.
Oliva Perez recalls that her children were determined to build a raft out of palm leaves and take it up the Putumayo River. But they didn’t have the strength or the skills to do it.
The family was transported to their home country by river. They were met in Colombia by the woman’s father. The younger boy was sent to the city of Pasto because he needed more serious help. Fortunately, the family did not encounter any poisonous snakes or spiders during the trip. These creatures pose the greatest danger in those places.