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Pacific Ocean Survivor Returns to El Salvador

  • VOA News

Castaway fisherman Jose Salvador Alvarenga gestures to El Salvador's Foreign Minister Jaime Miranda (C) during his arrival at Comalapa airport in San Luis Talpa on the outskirts of San Salvador, Feb. 11, 2014.
A fisherman from El Salvador who said he spent 13 months adrift in the Pacific has arrived home.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga tried to address reporters waiting at the San Salvador airport, but could only put his hands to his face, appearing to cry.

Alvarenga says he tossed more than 10,000 kilometers across the Pacific in a small boat from Mexico before he washed ashore two weeks ago in the Marshall Islands.

The 37-year-old castaway said he survived by eating raw fish, turtles and bird blood. He said his fishing partner Ezequiel Cordoba died about a month into their ordeal.

Some have doubted Alveranga's story, but Mexican officials say a small fishing boat carrying two men was reported to have disappeared during bad weather on November 17, 2012, and no trace of them or the craft was found during an intense two-week search.

Alvarenga left the airport in a wheelchair and was taken to the National Hospital San Rafael. As he was unloaded from an ambulance, he tried again to answer questions, and answered, "Happy to have arrived."

Jose Salvador Alvarenga makes his journey home

The castaway had started his ordeal a much larger man, and doctors found that he was swollen and in pain from the ordeal, suffering from dehydration.

The journey back home after a week of rest and medical treatment in the Marshall Islands capital of Majuro was marked by long layovers in Honolulu and Los Angeles, where doctors checked his health and ability to continue the trip.

Dr. Yeerles Ramírez said according to medical tests so far, Alvarenga's "prognosis is very good."