A Canadian man who has been missing for 5 years has been found in the Amazon jungle. Anton Pilipa trekked across two continents, more than 6,500 miles away walking mostly barefoot with just the clothes on his back, after he disappeared from his Vancouver home in 2012. His family spent years frantically searching for the former humanitarian worker, who suffers from suspected schizophrenia, and had almost given up hope when they got a call out of the blue. Anton, who has been placed back on his schizophrenia medication, traveled through at least ten countries from Canada, including the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil - all without a passport and with little more than the clothes in his back. A Canadian-born Brazilian cop spotted Pilipa, who she at first mistook for a beggar, shuffling down a dirt track in bare feet, and dirty, unwashed Bermuda shorts and a vest. He had no passport, without any form of identification. Therefore, extraordinarily, with help of several international agencies and embassies, she was able to track down his family who flew down to be reunited with their lost loved one.
Anton's brother Stefan said, I was astounded, and I told myself that he was dead, that was the only thing I could come up with that explained his absence. However, in my heart of hearts, I didn't think he could be. So I was really shocked, who said he'd spent years asking himself the same question, 'Where is he? What happened to him? I feel shocked that he's alive still and had made it that far. His brother said he had one strange mission; to get to the National Library of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Sadly, when he finally made it to the library, after walking thousands of miles, he was turned away because he didn't have any proof of identity. So he turned around and started his trek into Brazil where he would eventually be found. But after years on the road, he was shocked by his brother's appearance.
He described the life experience how he survived by picking fruits and berries, opportunistic for food and clothes in the trash, and heavily relied on the generosity of strangers. But that's not to say times weren't harsh. Anton started off with a small bag of belongings but was robbed of what little he did have on several occasions during his trek. Whereas walking more than 800km alone through the dangerous Amazon jungle, filled with poisonous spiders, snakes, caiman which can grow up to 20ft long and jaguar all his toenails dropped off. Yet, while he met some “bad people” on his unbelievable 10,000 mile journey, as he had received more generosity, particularly in recent times. I have never felt alone, it's been a lot of thinking for years, sleeping in the open. I used to very simple to live; and don’t need too many things. He looked very pretty rough, as after flying out to Manaus last month to collect his brother. The severities of his journey took a toll on his body and face and he had a lot more hair than last time I saw him.
Stefan said his brother's health was starting to weaken in the Brazilian mental institute where he was being held waiting for his family to collect him. We got him just in time, and I know that I am very fortunate to be alive,' Anton told the BBC. Hence I am very happy to be able to return to my family. While Anton walked most of the 10,000 mile trip, he would irregularly get a ride or stowaway in a truck. However mostly, he kept himself to himself, barely speaking to another human being in 5 years. Anton hardly speaks almost any Spanish or Portuguese. Anton, who was described as an individualist, was diagnosed with schizophrenia some years ago but his family says they struggled to find him the help he required in the two years before his disappearance. Therefore, before his illness, he had worked all over Canada for humanitarian relief organizations. In 2011, he finally started treatment for his mental disease but that same year, he was involved in an incident which resulted in him being charged with assault and weapons offences. He fled his native country in 2012 before he was due to appear in court. And despite his unbelievable journey, he will still have to answer those charges. After he arrived back in Toronto on Monday he was arrested before being released on bail. However Stefan says he doesn't believe the court appearance was the reason for his brother's disappearance. Perhaps the timing is suspect,' he admitted. 'But was he trying to avoid (the charges)? I don't think so. He was restless, and that is the main form of his mental illness.'
After he disappeared, he and his family did everything in their power to try and find him, but vein. They contacted police, hospitals, and jails and even checked the morgues but there was no trace. When someone disappears you abruptly realize there isn't a lot you can do, only we can hit a wall nothing else. The first they knew Anton was even alive was when Stefan got the call from the Brazilian police department shortly before Christmas. Anton was first spotted at the end of November 2016 when he strolled onto a highway in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. He was taken to a hospital in Porto Velho where police reached out on Twitter, and to local embassies to try and discover his identity. Lastly, officer Helenice Campos - the officer who'd found him wandering on the road, was able to get in touch with Anton's family. The family started raising money to get their brother back to home, but then tragedy struck; Anton fled the hospital. However, a big thanks to Brazilian police were able to track him down again as he was heading into the hazardous northern Brazilian state of Amazonas. That is the area where we talk about enormous predators like crocodiles and jungle cats,' Officer Helenice Campos, who said she swiftly recognized that the tall, blonde and blue-eyed Pilipa could be a foreigner, told CBC. We truly were afraid he could be eaten by one of those animals.
Now Anton has returned back to their native country Canada to live with his brother, sister-in-law and their children in downtown Toronto. Their 65-year-old mother has also been reunited with her missing son. Everybody is very pleased and supportive,' Stefan said of his family. The amount of support pouring in this critical time is incredible. Even though neighbors are all along the street are coming in to say hi. I have even had myriad emails from mothers of adults who have disappeared saying our story has inspired hope. Therefore, it may be some time before he knows the full story of his unbelievable journey. I haven't wanted to press him too much about it, as his brother is disturbed but is still doing extraordinarily well', all things considered. Stefan said.
It's a little bit awe-inspiring for him and he's very subtle at the moment. For sure, he hasn't been around people for a long while. He is hoping his brother will reinstate back into society after so long on his own. Although there's a little bit of a brawl with that, as he's used to being completely alone. He's been outside of society for a very long time. So I’ve to recap him sometimes that he needs to contain himself, in a more civilized way, and that will come with town. In spite of his trepidation, Stefan does not try and stop his brother from taking walks now he is in Toronto although they are considerably shorter than what he's used to. I know he used to walk and likes walk, so I allow him to walk as he needs to walk. I am not intent in trying to curtail that. He's just got rules now and he has to be back by a certain time. We are just taking it one step at a time. He's been walking for a long time. Anton and Stefan were always close growing up and both left home at a young age. We learned to be in the world together. We had similar mannerisms, and views of the world. It was hard to see him change. While Anton set out for Vancouver and Stefan for Toronto, they remained close. But during a family event, in 2009, Stefan noticed for the first time his brother was different. His family was still seeking treatment when Anton fled in 2012. While he admits to many, his brother's experience will sound strange; he said that those who know him may not be fully surprised. He's my brother and he's a very important person. What he's done is very much in his personality if you know him.