Dealing with a missing family member or friend is one of the toughest things anyone can go through. It’s impossible to wonder almost every second of the day if they are okay, and whether they will ever return. So when this Spanish doctor went missing more than 20 years ago, his family, but particularly his parents, lost a piece of their heart. But over 20 years later, he was found alive, and finally had the chance to share his story.
A Successful Doctor
In 1996, a Spanish doctor disappeared. He was a family man, and for most people around him, he looked pretty content with life. He had a degree in psychology, could speak and communicate in several languages, and was heading towards a very successful career.
His patients absolutely loved him, and his family appreciated all of his qualities. So what could be missing? It turns out that even though everything might look perfect from the outside, sometimes that’s not completely true.
He Didn’t Show At Work
Carlos de Salazar was only 26-years-old when he went missing. He lived in Spain and studied and worked hard to get his license. He was known to be a determined person, sure of what he was capable of achieving.
So obviously, he had a bright future ahead of him but knew that in order to get there, he would have to continue working hard. On a regular day, he didn’t arrive at work. It was very unusual behavior from him, so his colleagues noticed right away. His colleagues contacted his family and started looking for him everywhere. They called his house and looked everywhere, but he had vanished.
The Search Began
After a couple of days without finding him, people started wondering what had happened. They wondered if he had been kidnapped if he ran away, or he had decided to go MIA for a bit to get his life back on track. As people started investigating his past and what could have caused his disappearance, they discovered that ironically, the doctor suffered from depression.
It seemed that the depression was acute, stopping him from acknowledging and enjoying each of his accomplishments. His family and friends were completely devastated when they found out, particularly because they hadn’t suspected it.
He Was Severely Depressed
Carlos had kept his depression and his feelings completely to himself. He knew that mental illness was a serious condition to deal with and that if he didn’t treat it, it would only get worse. But in his head, he had reasons to keep it to himself and suffer in silence instead of sharing his feelings with someone he trusted.
His family and friends started thinking that that might have been the reason why disappeared, they thought that maybe he was trying to heal himself away from the pressures of society. It was known that being depressed could affect his feelings, his interest in life, and how he felt.
Keeping It To Himself
If he had, in fact, been depressed for a long time, his emotional and physical health could be at serious risk. Everyone just wanted to find him and tell him that he wasn’t alone, that they were there for him. If only he had sought their support, they thought. But now it could be too late.
His family notified everyone, contacted the authorities and the local missing person department. Together, they looked for Carlos for 14 years non-stop. Sadly, they were never able to find him and started feeling like he had disappeared forever. Because no leads came up throughout the years, the authorities eventually decided it was time to close the case at the end of 2010.
Hoping For The Best
It was a common procedure that when this happened, the authorities would declare him publicly as a “presumably deceased” person. Everyone had their hearts completely broken.
Hearing that one of their own was deceased wasn’t easy for anyone, even after almost 15 years of searching for him. The worst thing about it was that they hadn’t had the opportunity to have closure. But even with the sad outcome, some of them still had hope that one day, they would know what happened. And five years later, they did.
A Group Of Hitchhikers
At the end of 2015, hitchhikers went on a trip to search for edible mushrooms in the middle of the woods of beautiful Tuscany, Italy. This particular type of mushrooms was known to be easy to find in the area, known as the Maremma region, and the group of hikers was determined to find some.
So at the beginning of November, they got together and started their search. But that wasn’t their lucky day, and they found zero mushrooms in the marked path.
A Random Pile Of Trash
Due to their adventurous nature, they thought that it wouldn’t hurt to go off the path and search somewhere else for the famous fungi. They walked deep into the forest until something unusual came across the group of hitchhikers.
In the middle of nowhere deep inside the forest, the hitchhikers found a pile of trash. They wondered if a bunch of campers had done so due to their irresponsibility, or if there was more to it.
Someone Was Camping There
Since they were all curious to know the origin of such littering, they decided to follow the trail of trash. Surely it would give them better answers than simply assuming. It didn’t take long until they reached a campsite.
They were surprised to find it since it looked like a very remote location to camp in. By the looks of it, it was safe to assume that whoever had decided to camp there, had been living in the woods for a while.
A Survival Spot
As they looked around, they found more and more unusual things. The camper had thought about the whole thing; he had certainly been living there for a while. To collect rainwater, he had put water bottles hanging on several trees across the campsite.
They also saw different personal items spread out, such as shoes, an umbrella, and buckets. Each element highlighted the fact that the camper either knew what he was doing, but he also knew what exactly was needed for survival.
A Man Emerged
Suddenly, a man emerged from the tent. The hikers were taken by surprise and were caught red-handed while looking around the site. The man certainly looked like someone who had been in the woods alone for a very long time.
His beard was huge, and his face was dirty. But it was dirty in a way that they knew it hadn’t been washed for a very long time. They could barely see what his face really looked like.
Who Was He?
The hitchhikers got scared and together ran back to the beginning of the path. They decided to contact the ranger who was there on call and went back to the campsite in order to attempt to get some answers.
They greeted the man and started asking questions right away. The man had very subtle gestures and was very calm when he spoke. He introduced himself as Carlos and explained that he had been living there since 1997.
He Had Various Forms Of ID
He also explained that he had consciously chosen to live away from other people, and would, therefore, have to relocate after their encounter. After his calm introduction, the park ranger asked to see some sort of identification.
Carlos took out his now expired passport right away, and also found a rough university library card. It turned out that he still had many types of identification. Since the ranger had assumed that the man probably had no identification after all of those years, it’s safe to say that he was completely surprised.
Living Away From People
It’s funny to think that while he had willingly decided to vanish from his home and from society in general, he was still responsible enough to keep some sort of identification with him.
As nice as he was, Carlos still managed to make it clear that he wasn’t very happy that his camp had been found. He explained that he had moved there by himself because he no longer wanted to ‘live among people.’ The hikers got the message, but before they left, they found a way to take pictures of the documents.
Finding His Family
Once they got back to ‘society,’ they contacted the authorities and showed the man’s ID. They hoped that the police could locate the man’s family, and find out who he really was.
After handing it to the police, it turned out that very quickly, they were able to locate Carlos’s family. The authorities contacted the Penelope Association of Italy, which in turn reached out to the S.O.S Desaparecidos in Carlos’s home country, Spain.
The Hope For A Reunion
After some work, they were able to put together his details and figure out his identity. They reached Carlos’s parents right away. At first, they couldn’t believe that what they were hearing was possible.
But in no time, they were on a plane on the way to Italy. They were shaking and didn’t know what to expect. For what they knew, Carlos could be gone again when they got there, but they tried to stay positive. They had waited years for that moment, and couldn’t believe that it had finally come.
Theories Started Surfacing
When the story broke the news, various theories of how he had survived that long by himself started emerging. One of these theories was that he had chosen the Russian woods in specific due to its abundance of food.
Others wondered whether he had stolen people’s garbage in a nearby town once in a while, in order to find scraps of food. People started reporting to the news that they had seen him before, but it was hard to tell whether the statements were true or not.
He Wasn’t There
Even though his parents didn’t understand why Carlos had done such a thing, they tried their best to respect it. They would give anything to see him again. So when they arrived, together with the hitchhikers and the local authorities, they were headed to the campsite where Carlos had been seen.
For their disappointment, when they got there, he was gone. Their fear had come into reality, and Carlos had vanished once again, and no one had any idea where he had gone to this time.
Respecting His Choices
But once again, they weren’t ready to let go of their son so easily. They started another search, all over the campsite. Carlos was now 47 and had probably figured how to disappear even better this time.
After a couple of days, they had to interrupt the manhunt once again. The only difference was that this time, they knew he was alive and okay and had vanished by choice. There was nothing they could do besides respecting his decision.
Not The Only One
It was, indeed, a mystery for everyone. They tried hard to understand why someone would want to disappear from their sights that way, making sure they could never be found again.
Especially for Carlos’s parents, as much as they attempted to be understanding, it was very hurtful. They didn’t even know what their son looked like anymore, or who he was. Apparently, though, Carlos wasn’t the only person who made such a drastic decision in their lives, there were more.
A Similar Case
A man called Henry Thoreau willingly disappeared for more than two years. In 1854, after the whole ordeal, he wrote a book explaining what had gone through his head when he made that decision, and what life in the woods was like.
But his book brought light to the difficulties of living off the grid, explaining that not everyone was made for it. There were many details that people didn’t think of before making such a major decision.
Another man called Everett Ruess did things differently. When Everett was 16, he went on his first hike and loved it. Four years later, he went on a hike, but this time didn’t come back.
Sixty-five years later, a man called David Roberts, a National Geographic adventurer, decided to search for him once again. He started a personal investigation, and with a group of locals, they searched for him around Utah for weeks until a couple of shepherds confirmed that he had been seen alive not too long before.
Until today, no one knows what happened to him. Just like Everett, Carlos was never seen again. All they knew was that at least he was alive. After the story went viral, Carlos’s sister went on social media to share her thoughts.
She thanked everyone who had given them hope and had helped them search for Carlos. She also explained that knowing that he was indeed alive, and off the grid by choice, comforted them somehow, after years of living in a nightmare.