As I mentioned in my previous post, my parents told me the story of my visit to the South American rainforest when I was two years old. During the day, I was in the protective care of a native Amerindian nanny, but one day I wandered out of the village compound without her knowledge.
When I was discovered missing, my parents quickly organized a search party and frantically searched the area looking for me. Fortunately, it was a small community where nothing went unnoticed. Some Amerindians, who were making a dugout close to the river, had seen me in the company of an old man heading upstream in a canoe.
The search party set out in pursuit in several boats trying to locate the old man in the canoe. The problem with a river search is that there are several streams or tributaries that connect to the river. Each inlet had to be searched, so progress was not as quick as my distraught parents would have liked it to be. But then their anxiety turned into excitement! Some fishermen traveling in the opposite direction said they had seen us, and they also knew where the old man lived. His home was on a hill in a remote area, hidden by the dense foliage.
My parents told me that when they arrived and rushed into the hut they found me unharmed and playing happily, surrounded by a variety of colorful birds, parrots, macaws, toucans, and sakiwinkis (small monkeys). They also said I was reluctant to leave the hut because I was fascinated by all the birds and monkeys in the old man’s home. The old man’s explanation was that he had seen me wandering alone, and he brought me to his home to play with his collection of pets. He gave us a pet monkey and a macaw to take back with us.
Soon after this incident, my parents left the rainforest and never returned.
The first time my parents told me this story, I asked about the old man and why he was living in the rainforest. They said he was a harmless hermit who lived alone, hidden away in the rainforest for decades. He spent his time gathering herbs and keeping birds and animals as pets. He was rarely seen due to his reclusive lifestyle, and no one knew why he decided to venture into the area where we were staying.
I always wondered if it was prolonged loneliness that drove him there, or if he was sent by divine intervention to save me from some wild animal or poisonous snake. I have always wanted to go back to that area in the rainforest, but never did. Perhaps, I will someday, because it is in my bucket list of treks!