I felt completely alone.
I could see the canopy of the jungle spinning towards me. Then I lost
consciousness and remember nothing of the impact. Later I learned that the
plane had broken into pieces about two miles above the ground.
I woke the next day and looked up into the canopy. The first thought I had
was: "I survived an air crash."
I shouted out for my mother in but I only heard the sounds of the jungle. I
was completely alone.
I had broken my collarbone and had some deep cuts on my legs but my injuries
weren't serious. I realized later that I had ruptured a ligament in my knee but
I could walk.
Before the crash, I had spent a year and a half with my parents on their
research station only 30 miles away. I learned a lot about life in the
rainforest, that it wasn't too dangerous. It's not the green hell that the
world always thinks.
I could hear the planes overhead searching for the wreck but it was a very
dense forest and I couldn't see them.
I was wearing a very short, sleeveless mini-dress and white sandals. I had
lost one shoe but I kept the other because I am very short-sighted and had lost
my glasses, so I used that shoe to test the ground ahead of me as I walked.
Snakes are camouflaged there and they look like dry leaves. I was lucky I
didn't meet them or maybe just that I didn't see them.
I found a small creek and walked in the water because I knew it was safer.
At the crash site I had found a bag of sweets. When I had finished them I
had nothing more to eat and I was very afraid of starving.
It was very hot and very wet and it rained several times a day. But it was
cold in the night and to be alone in that mini-dress was very difficult.
On the fourth day, I heard the noise of a landing king vulture which I recognized
from my time at my parents' reserve.
I was afraid because I knew they only land when there is a lot of carrion
and I knew it was bodies from the crash.
When I turned a corner in the creek, I found a bench with three passengers
rammed head first into the earth.
I was paralyzed by panic. It was the first time I had seen a dead body.
I thought my mother could be one of them but when I touched the corpse with
a stick, I saw that the woman's toenails were painted - my mother never
polished her nails.
I was immediately relieved but then felt ashamed of that thought.
By the 10th day I couldn't stand properly and I drifted along the edge of a
larger river I had found. I felt so lonely, like I was in a parallel universe
far away from any human being.
I thought I was hallucinating when I saw a really large boat. When I went to
touch it and realized it was real, it was like an adrenaline shot.
But [then I saw] there was a small path into the jungle where I found a hut
with a palm leaf roof, an outboard motor and a liter of gasoline.
I had a wound on my upper right arm. It was infested with maggots about one centimeter
long. I remembered our dog had the same infection and my father had put kerosene
in it, so I sucked the gasoline out and put it into the wound.
The pain was intense as the maggots tried to get further into the wound. I
pulled out about 30 maggots and was very proud of myself. I decided to spend
the night there.
The next day I heard the voices of several men outside. It was like hearing
the voices of angels.
When they saw me, they were alarmed and stopped talking. They thought I was
a kind of water goddess - a figure from local legend who is a hybrid of a water
dolphin and a blonde, white-skinned woman.
But I introduced myself in Spanish and explained what had happened. They
treated my wounds and gave me something to eat and the next day took me back to
The day after my rescue, I saw my father. He could barely talk and in the
first moment we just held each other.
For the next few days, he frantically searched for news of my mother. On 12
January they found her body.
Later I found out that she also survived the crash but was badly injured and
she couldn't move. She died several days later. I dread to think what her last
days were like.