After all our talks about living as hermits, and living in the wild, there seemed to be a general consensus that people chose that life style. A few blog posts recently have talked about getting lost in the wild, and surviving that way, but I recently found an interesting article about people forced to live as hermits. In this article, Bernice Toves, 55, lived in the jungle at Last Pond on her own for 15 years. Following that, she lived– and continues to live– for 10 years at the abandoned water substation in Dededo, Guam. This is an area heavily surrounded by jungle, and Toves survives by eating snakes, iguanas, catching fish with a net, and other wild animals. Toves became homeless 13 years ago when her son died from open-heart surgery at the age of 20. Since then, she lost all her money, her job, been raped four times, beaten, and horrible scars which lead her to run to the jungle to find a new place to live. Toves has housed over 50 homeless people during her time in the jungle, yet she is remembered even by those as “the jungle women.”
This article brought up an interesting point that I do not think we have explored yet. Although we’ve said that people become hermits, or try to live in the wild, to escape human civilization and society, I don’t think we’ve encountered people who have been forced to leave. Although Toves does have contact with other people (various homeless people that live with her along the way) and she uses human products to help keep her alive (like a supermarket cart and her business selling cans), she is still a hermit in the way she lives. Is she successfully surviving in the wild? The answer is yes. It may not be 100% individual effort of survival in the jungle, but she uses very limited resources, no electricity, and no power. Toves hunts for her own food, even though she is 100% disabled (it does not clarify how, just states she has proof of this). It also may not be complete wild that Toves is living in, as she lives in an an abandoned Navy water substation, but Toves is just as close as surviving in the wild as anyone else has ever been–and she’s been doing it for 25 years even though she doesn’t want to.