A Colombian writer has told a Spanish newspaper El Pais that Cuban President Fidel Castro seems to be back to his old self.

Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez said he visited Mr. Castro on Monday, and that the two went on a long walk. He called Mr. Castro "a force of nature" and said he could reasonably say the Cuban president is "the same Fidel" as always.

Mr. Castro has not appeared in public since undergoing intestinal surgery last July.

He transferred power to his brother, Raul, in what he said was a temporary move. Cuban officials have refused to release details of his condition.

Lately, reports on his health have been more frequent and more positive. On Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told Cuba's official newspaper, Granma, that Mr. Castro is doing very well.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.