A family in Vancouver, Canada, was shocked when they learned their missing 39-year-old son had been found in the Amazon jungle and learned that he had walked 6,500 miles barefoot across two continents with nothing but the clothes on his back.
Anton Pilipa's family, who believes he suffers from schizophrenia, had been searching for him since he vanished in 2012, reports the Daily Mail. Naturally, his family couldn't believe it when they received a phone call that Anton had been spotted.
"I was stunned," Anton's brother Stefan told the Daily Mail of the moment he learned that a Canadian-born Brazilian police officer found the man wearing dirty clothes and with no shoes or identification. "I told myself that he was dead. Because that was the only thing I could come up with that explained his absence."
Anton, who walked through the Amazon jungle and was robbed of all his possessions several times on his trip, said he lived off of berries, other fruits, items he found in the trash and the kindness of strangers, of whose generosity he said far outweighed the few "bad people" he encountered.
"I've never felt alone," added the former humanitarian worker. "It's been a lot of thinking for years, sleeping in the open. It's very simple to live, we do not need many things."
Anton walked through at least ten countries. According to his brother, he had set out to visit the National Library of Buenos Aires in Argentina but was turned away, since he did not have any identification. At that point, he went back to Brazil, where he was found and placed in a Brazilian mental health institute while he waited for his family to pick him up.
"He looked pretty rough," said Stefan, who made the trip to come get him. "The rigors of his journey took a toll on his body and face. And he had a lot more hair than last time I saw him."
Anton left Canada shortly after he was due in court for assault and weapons charges related to an incident in 2011, notes CBC. He was arrested and released on bail upon his return and will attend court for his outstanding charges.
Stefan said that the family's first priority is to "hold him close" and then find him "a place to live and some treatment and some help" so that he can "have the life he deserves."