Ingrid Betancourt
Photo: Getty Images
Thirty miles into the drive toward San Vincente, Ingrid's car approached a checkpoint manned by FARC guerrillas. "I told the driver: 'Let's go back. We have to get out of here,'" Ingrid says. "There was a guerrilla that came running, and he put his head inside the car and he asked, 'Are you Ingrid Betancourt?' And I said, 'Yes.'"

Ingrid and her campaign manager, Clara, were forced into a truck at gunpoint. "We had been abducted," Ingrid says. "The guerrilla didn't use the word 'kidnapped.' But he said, 'I have received orders from my commanders to treat you well.' That was, I would say, the worst day of my life."

For the next six and a half years, Ingrid was held hostage in the Colombian jungle, unable to see or speak to her husband and two children. She and her fellow hostages were often kept in what they called "the cage." Although the living space would change depending on where they camped in the jungle, Ingrid says lack of personal space was a big issue.

Ingrid says she shared a tiny space with Clara for the first year and a half. "We would pass all our days sitting in that space, and of course, every move we would do, we would just brush each other. It was very difficult," she says.

None of the hostages were allowed to do anything without first asking for permission, including using the bathroom. Called the "chuntas," Ingrid says her toilet was a hole dug in the ground that everyone used. "And, of course, all the bugs and all the things had their favorite place over there," she says. "It was horrible."

FROM: Exclusive: The Bravest Mom in the World Set Free: Ingrid Betancourt
Published on September 22, 2010


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