Summary of “Girl Against the Jungle” by Juliane Koepcke
Juliane, the narrator, lived with her mother at Lima. Her father was at Pucallpa, across the Andes. He had written to Juliane and her mother to come over to Pucallpa. They would celebrate Christmas there. On Christmas Eve Juliane and her mother boarded a lock heed Electra at Lima. The plane was scheduled to start at seven a.m. It looks off at 11.15 a.m. The narrator was not worried. She knew it was nothing unusual in Peru. There were about 80 passengers in the plane. She had managed to get a window seat. The plane took off well. It nicely curved over the Pacific, gained height and was flying over the Andes. They passengers were served a meal. Some passengers went to sleep after the meal.
Half an hour after a storm arose. The plane began to roll. The passengers were advised to faster their seat belts. Even then the narrator was not afraid. She knew that such storms were nothing unexpected in the Andes region. It started raining heavily. The shower began beating against the window panes. The plane was thrown about vertically. The passengers shouted it fear.
The narrators looked out and saw lightning flashing very near the plane. The aircraft started rocking more violently. There were more screams-lightning had struck the right wing of the plane and the plane was on fire. There was sudden explosion. The plane was crashed. The narrator, on her seat, was thrown into the open air outside. She saw that she was flying through the air. She was running round in the air. Here seat belt was pressing on her stomach. She could not breathe. She lost consciousness.
The rain brought her back to her sense. She could hear the roar of thunder. It was still daylight. She found herself lying under her seat. The seat next to hers was empty. Her mother was nowhere there to be found. There was no trace of the plane. She was all alone, lying in a forest. She did not despair. She had no fears. She calmly assessed the situation. Her seatbelt was gone. One of her shoes, her ring and glass were missing. A bone was sticking out from beneath her neck. One of her eyes was swollen. She had a bump on her head and a wound on her foot. In spite of such injuries she did not feel any pain, but she did not have the strength to get up and look around. She remained lying under the seatbelt dazed. Mi
She was feeling dizzy when she got up in the morning. She found a small parcel beside her. She opened it. It had some toys and a Christmas cake. This reminder her that it was Christmas Day. She remembered her father. He had probably lost his wife. He must not lose his daughter. The narrators decided that she must stay alive.
Her parents had taught her that the big animals were not the real danger in the jungle.
The real danger came from the small ones like insects, spider’s ants, flies and mosquitoes. She must avoid them. They had also taught her that in the jungle one must always try to find a river. The settlements of the tribesmen, the wood cutters and worker in the plantations are found on the banks of rivers. The rivers are their roads. The small rivers in the Andes flow into the Rio Ucayali which flows into the mighty Amazon. She knew that she had to find the Rio Ucayali. Pucallpa was on the Rio Ucayali. Her father was waiting for her at Pucallpa.
She tasted a piece of the cake. It tasted awful. She took a bag of sweets from the parcel and ate some. She found herself a stick to poke about with on the ground ahead of her. It was started walking but found it difficult and painful. She was still feeling dizzy. She had to rest again and again. She did not give up and kept walking.
She heard the rippling noise of water, close of her. She followed the sound and came to a small stream. The water was clear and she could drink it. She knew that this small stream could lead her to a bigger stream. The stream went like a snake. It had innumerable bends; even after walking miles a long the bank one could hardly cover hundred yards. There are alligators on the islands in the rivers and on the banks. There are paring has in the rivers. They have very sharp teeth, they are eager for blood from wounds and the narrators had a wound on her foot.
In spite of all this she had to stay near the river. The banks were densely over grown. Every step was difficult. There were huge tree trunks blocking her way. She had to wade across the river. Suddenly she heard the buzzing of files, she followed the sound. She found a row of seats from the aero plane and there dead bodies. Files were crawling over the mutilated bodies. Her mother’s body was not among these. She resumed her walk. Though she saw a lot of nice fruit she did not pick any. She knew that they might be poisonous. She kept walking till evening. Then she chose a spot on the river bank and slept there.
By the time she got the next morning the sun was already high up in the sky. She resumed her walk. She found that some of her sweets had been lost through a hole in the bag. This did not bother her as she did not feel hungry. She heard the vultures. There must be dead bodies near by. She found a piece of fuselage and a bit of wreckage that looked like the cabin. She could smell petrol. She looked around and could not see any survivor from the crash. She left the place and walked on. The progress was very slow.
On the second day she had no pain from her injuries. However her back caused her much pain. The fastening at the back of her dress was broken; the sun had caught her through the trees. Her back had been sunburn. She did not care for the pain. On the third she walked a long way. She felt stronger. She did not care about being constantly bitter by mosquitoes and horse files. Then suddenly, she heard the sound of aero planes. Carried away by emotion she shouted for help. She then realise that it was meaningless. She could not see the aeroplanes nor could she be seen through the trees. The aeroplaned flew away. She was alone again. She was not disheartened. She could walk. She could drink from the stream. She was not hungry. There was still hope. She had to guard against the alligators and the stingrays in the river. This is how it went on as a daily routine for nine days.
The ninth day was very auspicious. She found strong and newly built boat tied up to the bank of the stream. There was a path from the boat into the under growth. She walked on that path and found a nicely built hut. She went into it. There was a motor board and a can of petrol inside the hut. She was very much happy that she had a roof over her head. She slept on the wooden floor of the hut. Mosquitoes would not let her sleep well. She lay awake, listening for the sound of human voices.
She had thought that the owners of the boat would come for it. The next morning she waited to see men. There was not trace of any man. The owners of the boat night have gone away from the jungle, abandoning the boat. They might have been swallowed by the jungle. For a moment she thought of taking the boat. The next moment she decided against it. She did not know rowing. What is more, she must not steal. Then she resumed walking along the bank.
She found the stream rising because of the fresh supply of water by the heavy rain of the past days. She had maggots at her body. She found a tube of Vaseline in the hut. She rubbed Vaseline on her body. It did not help. She made skewer out of a piece of palm branch. She dug out about 25 maggots with it. Her right arm was in great pain. She felt miserable. Then she heard human voices. She saw three young men coming towards the hut. She was greatly relieved. Her ordeal and eager waiting was over.
These young men rescued her from that hell and took her to her father at Pucallpa. She thanked her luck for two things. The first on was that she stayed at that spot on the ninth day. Had she gone wading or swimming she could not have noticed the hut. The second thing was that fate had brought her to that place on that fateful day. The young men came to the hut for one day only in three months. They had planned to go back from there the next. Had she reached that spot the day after, she could not have been rescued.
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