Brasília, April 9 2021: Flying at 3000feet in a Cessna 210 over the Amazon rain-forest and having to crash land in a narrow valley and then undertaking an even more harrowing trek of 38 days has taught pilot Antonio Sena a very valuable lesson. Live in harmony with nature and never challenge it.
On January 28, Sena, 36, was hired to fly a cargo run from the northern town of Alenquer to an illegal gold mine in the rain-forest, known as the “California.” Shortly after the crash, covered in gasoline, he grabbed a few essentials and got out of the plane as fast as possible. The plane exploded not long after.
He says he heard rescue planes searching for him overhead at least for the first five days of his trek. Soon though, they gave up thinking he must be dead. Leaving him devastated but with a resolve to survive for his family, he used the meager charge on his cell phone to mark his location on GPS and decided to walk east. In all, Sena walked 28 kilometers and shed losing 25 kilos.
He remembers using the rising sun as a guide and says there was water but no food other than some precious tinamou bird eggs he managed to snag. He soon followed the example of monkeys and ate what he saw them eat, all the while aware of the predators around him. He describes the Amazon not as one forest but multiple habitats, he describes it as a “virign” landscape.
Sena, a trained pilot, was born in a small city at the junction of the Amazon and Tapajos, he describes himself as an “Amazonian” and says he would never have resorted to flying illegal gold miners if the pandemic hadn’t forced him to shut down his restaurant business.
On the 35th day, he heard the sound of a chainsaw and soon came upon a small clearing to a camp of Brazilian nut collectors. There the matriarch, Maria Jorge dos Santos Tavares, who has been selling nuts in the Amazon for 5 decades, gave him food and shelter and helped him contact his mother.
Sena says he feels tremendous affection for them tribe. He says it is symbolic that He he was saved by a family that lives “in harmony” with the forest, after working for people who are destroying it. “Despite the circumstances that led me to that flight, being found by a family of gatherers who work in harmony with nature, who don’t damage the forest, that was magical,” he said.
“One thing’s for sure: I’ll never fly for illegal miners again.”
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