A Canadian man declared missing for five years has been found in Brazil, after trekking through 10 countries.
Anton Pilipa, who suffers from schizophrenia, trekked mostly barefoot across two continents after leaving his Vancouver residence in 2012. The countries include the United States, Mexico, Panama, Columbia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Guatemala, Argentina, and Brazil. According to the Huffington Post, the 39-year-old had no passport and owned nothing besides the clothes that he wore during his unbelievable journey.
His brother, Stefan, speaking to the Daily Mail, revealed that his brother was undergoing treatment for mental illness when he was involved in an incident. The 2011 incident resulted in the former humanitarian worker being charged with weapon offenses and assault.
Pilipa abruptly left Canada in 2012 before he was meant to appear in court. Stefan does not think his brother fled the county to avoid a court sentencing. According to him, he believes his brother’s mental illness is to blame for his bizarre disappearance.
“The timing is suspect. But was he trying to avoid the charges? I don’t think so. He was restless. That is the major form of his mental illness.”
Anton Pilipa told BBC Brazil that he survived for years by rummaging for food in trash cans and sleeping out in the open. The “anti-poverty activist” also revealed that he lived off the generosity of strangers and learned to pick fruits and berries. He said he was robbed several times of his possessions, but by and large, he received plenty of generosity from “good people.” The 39-year-old survivalist said he never felt alone and his journey made him realize that not too many things were needed to live life.
“I never felt alone. It’s been a lot of thinking for years…It’s very simple to live, we do not need many things.”
Anton Pilipa who walked more than 6,500 miles, spending part of that time trekking alone in the dreaded Amazon jungle revealed he lost all his toenails. A Brazilian policewoman had spotted Anton and mistook him for a beggar clad in dirty shorts and a shirt. The Vancouver man was barefoot and had no means of identification. He also could not speak a word of Portuguese.
Luckily the Canadian-born cop spoke to him in English and via embassies and several international bodies was able to locate his family. Stefan Pilipa pointed out that he got to his brother “just in time’ because his health had begun to fail. The brother said the family was shocked when they were told that Anton was alive and in Brazil, adding that they had contacted police, hospitals, jails and searched different morgues after they resigned to fate that he was dead.
Stefan has started a GoFundMe page on behalf of his brother to settle some expenses and help him get him back on his feet. The campaign has exceeded its $8,000 goal, as of the time of this story with over $12,000 raised.
Stefan said over $1,600 was required for his brother’s flight to Canada from Brazil. He also mentioned that $2,000 was needed for hospital costs and consular fees. According to him, he also wanted around $3,500 to cover a few months rent for Anton. Despite his remarkable journey across continents, Anton was arrested Monday as soon as he arrived to answer to his previous charges. He was later released on bail.
Anton unbelievably alleged that he was trying to make it to the National Library of Buenos Aires in Argentina. According to him, after walking thousands of miles, he was turned away because he had no identification and began trekking to Brazil where he would be eventually found.
He was spotted in November wandering on a highway in the Brazilian state of Rondonia. The Brazilian police officer, Helenice Vidigal who has Canadian citizenship knew that the tall, blond and blue-eyed man was a foreigner and spoke English to him. According to the officer, Anton offered very few details, but she was able to contact a family member on Twitter with help from local embassies.
The Pilipa family was happy that Anton had been found and was raising money to bring him back to Canada when he fled the hospital he was being held. Fortunately, he was found as he was walking towards the dangerous northern Brazilian state of Amazonas. Officer Helenice said the state was notorious for predators like crocodiles and jungle cats, adding, “we were truly afraid he could be eaten by one of those animals.”
Anton walked most of his 10,000 miles, occasionally he would steal a ride on board a truck. He hardly spoke to another human being for five years.
[Featured Image by Gajus/iStock]