The Ability to Survive

Hollywood loves stories of survival. When Aron Ralston had to amputate his own arm clamped by a boulder for the sake of saving his life, the filmmakers did not miss the chance to make from this story a spectacular film called “127 hours” (2010) and receive for it several coveted statuettes.

However, there are other, no less “Oscar” worthy stories to which Hollywood has not yet reached:

1. Antarctic Hell of Douglas Mawson

In the early XX century, the Australian scientist Douglas Mawson organized an expedition to Antarctica.

On December 14, 1912, when Mawson and his two colleagues Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Merits, having collected valuable information for science, were already returning to the base, the misfortune happened: Ninnis fell into a crevice and died. Falling, he took with him sledges with supplies and most of the dogs from the team of travelers. They had approximately 310 miles to home.

To get to the base, Mawson and Merits had to walk through a lifeless icy desert, where there was absolutely no place to hide or rest. Food remained for a maximum of a third of the way.

When supplies were exhausted, the travelers had to eat own dogs, which meant that the sledges had to be pulled with own strength. In the end, Merits died of cold and exhaustion. Mawson remained alone with an endless Antarctic horror. He was tormented by conjunctivitis and such an eerie frostbite that the skin began to fall off, hair fell out in shreds, and the soles of his feet oozed with blood and pus. But, despite everything, the traveler stubbornly moved forward.

At some point, he stepped on a crack under the snow layer, fell into a crevice and hung helplessly over the abyss, while the sleigh somehow stuck tight in the snow on the edge.

Even in this seemingly hopeless situation, Mawson did not give up. He began cautiously pulling himself up on a four-meter rope, stopping and resting from time to time until he reached the edge of the crevice. When he got out, he went on his way and finally got to the base … where he found out that the ship “Aurora”, on which he was supposed to get home, departed only five hours ago!

He had to wait for the next one for 10 months!

2.The story of a marathon runner who was lost in the Sahara

The sandy marathon of the Sahara is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. For this six-day transition of 250 kilometers in length, only the most experienced and hardy dare.

The policeman and pentathlon from Sicily, Mauro Prosperi, also decided to test himself. For four days everything went well, Mauro was in seventh place.

And then a sand storm arose. According to the rules, in such cases the participants were supposed to stop and wait for help, but the Italian decided that some kind of storm was not a hindrance to him, like he never saw sand! Mauro wrapped his head around with a scarf and continued on his way.

After six hours the wind died down, and Prosperi realized that all this time he was going in the wrong direction. He was so far from the rest that even the signal rockets were useless, no one had seen them. Absolutely alone, in the middle of the most extensive and inhospitable desert on the whole Earth.

Prosperi had no choice but to continue. To save fluid, he had to pee in his water canteen. Eventually, he reached an abandoned mosque, where a starving marathoner could battle his hunger and thirst by catching bats, tearing the poor animals’ heads and drinking their blood.

Then, from desperation, Prosperi tried to commit suicide by cutting the veins on his wrists, but from dehydration his blood so thickened that it refused to pour out, so nothing came of it, only a couple of scratches and a headache. And then the marathoner vowed that he would fight for life to the end, although, apparently, death did not want to accept, so there was simply no other option.

Over the next five days, Prosperi continued his wanderings through the Sahara, satisfying the hunger with lizards and scorpions, and thirst with dew.

And after nine days of ordeals, fate finally took pity on the exhausted Italian, he met a group of nomads who explained that he was in Algeria, more than 200 kilometers from the place where, in theory, he should be.

And what do you think? Two years passed and Prosperi signed up for a new marathon, from which he returned unharmed and on time.

3. The story of a man who survived in the Australian desert, feeding on frogs

The case was in 2001. Someone named Ricky Megi woke up … in the middle of the Australian desert. He laid face down, sprinkled with dirt, and around ran a pack of dingo dogs, glancing at the man with hungry eyes. All this did not promise anything good.

How he managed to get here, Megi did not understand at all. The last thing left in the memory, he was driving his own car, he traveled in a sparsely populated area to the west. Nothing unusual.

For ten days Megi walked barefoot, where, the longer he walked, the more senseless this road seemed to him. Finally, he came across a dam, where he made a small hut of twigs and sticks. In this hut he lived the next three months, eating leeches and grasshoppers. Sometimes he managed to catch a frog, it was a delicacy. He dried it in the sun until the frog was covered in crispy crust, and then ate with pleasure. In the end, Megi was found and rescued by farmers. 

4.The story of the girl, who was “adopted” by the family of monkeys

When Marina Chapman was four years old, she was abducted. The last thing she remembered was how someone grabbed her from behind, blindfolded her, and carried her somewhere. The child woke up in the Colombian jungle. The girl’s father was by no means Liam Neeson, so there were no mountains of corpses of terrorists, no wolves with torn mouths, no fascinating chases in this story. As there was no quick rescue of the kidnapped child.

Instead, Marina was found by monkeys, who took her into their clan and began to teach her how to get food, climb trees and all kinds of monkey wisdom.

Several years passed, and Chapman achieved outstanding success in the art of stealing rice and fruits from the houses of surrounding villages. Locals even noticed in the company of monkeys one suspicious humanoid, but they only threw stones at it, driving the thieves from their homes back into the jungle.

If the fate of a girl abandoned by people and brought up by the animals seems terrible to you, take your time. Chapman was saved … by a human family with clearly sadistic inclinations. These people actually turned the girl into a slave, giving her a bed on the floor near the stove.

Fortunately, Chapman managed to escape from her “saviors”. She climbed a tree, where she was noticed by a local woman, who called to live with her and raised her as own daughter. Chapman successfully adapted to life in society, moved to England and met a handsome musician. It ended with a wedding.

5.The story of a man who stood in shit for three days

The World War II veteran Coolidge Winsett from Virginia was 75 years old, when he got into this literally foul-smelling story.

The house of a lonely retiree was old, with amenities in the yard. One day he went out for need, and the rotten boards of the floor gave and fell. Winsett found himself in a cesspool, to the waist in shit, in “Biblical hell,” as he himself later called it. He could not get out on his own, as part of his leg was amputated, and one arm did not work after a stroke. So he stayed for three days, in the lake of his own feces, fighting off rats, spiders and snakes, which, as it turned out, were frequent guests there.

Eventually, the local postman noticed that no one was taking out the mail, he was worried and decided to visit the old man. Passing through the courtyard, he heard weak cries for help and called rescuers.

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