For those in need of a feel-good story, this one will have you crying big old monkey tears and give you a reason not to mess with local customs. A tourist lost in a Bolivian rainforest for nine days was able to survive with the help of a troop of monkeys (that’s what a group of them is called – for your next trivia contest) that gave him food and helped him find water and shelter until he was finally rescued. Awwww!

Chilean tourist Maykool Coroseo Acuña was on a Max Adventures max adventure in the Madidi National Park, located a rainforest in the northwest part of Bolivia, when he decided that joining with the rest of the group in a spiritual ceremony giving thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth) for allowing them to visit her forest was too max for him. That was his first mistake.

A depiction of Pachamama

It’s because he offended the Pachamama. He didn’t want to participate in the ceremony.

Feizar Nava, owner of Max Adventures, points out why you should always listen to your tour guide. According to National Geographic and other reports, five minutes after Acuña went back to his cabin, he had disappeared.

The locals believe that Pachamama is not a goddess to mess with. When offended, she is said to send a sprite (elf) known as El Duende to take the offender to another dimension. Park director Marcos Uzquiano didn’t have much hope that Acuña would be found.

For myself and the rangers, this is our culture. We believe that Duende is real. And we think it’s possible that Maykool was taken by him.

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A depiction of Duendes

Does the tour sell Duende insurance?

Nava and Uzquiano appeared to be prescient. Search parties found no sign of him on many excursions through various parts of the rainforest. At the point they were about to give up, a searcher found a single sock that Acuña’s stepmother identified as her son’s. Local shamans called this a sign and claimed to use the sock to help him escape from the Duende dimension. Based on that, the rescuers continued and, on the ninth day, found the Pachamama offender … dehydrated, covered in bug bites and telling a story of Duende messing with his mind and the monkeys.

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Maykool Coroseo Acuña showing his bug bites

I started running. I was wearing sandals and I said no, they would slow me down. I threw away the sandals, then the cell phone and my flashlight. And after running so much, I stopped under a tree and I started thinking. What had I done, what was I doing? And when I wanted to get back, it wasn’t possible.

Fortunately for Acuña, help came in a different form of sprites … monkeys. He claimed that monkeys swinging through the trees above him would drop fruit to eat and led him to water and safe places to shelter for the night.

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Acuña owes his life to monkeys willing to share

Wildlife experts say the primates could have been Rosillo, Lucachi or Titi monkeys that live in the area. It’s interesting that the sprite was so easy to identify but the helpful monkeys were not.

Offend the powerful and suffer the consequences. The jungle imitates civilization.

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Acuña and his rescuers celebrating ... is this wise?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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