Salvadoran sea survivor returns to hometown


| Zoom

GARITA PALMERA, El Salvador (AP) - The Salvadoran fisherman who says he spent 13 months adrift at sea surviving on raw turtles, fish and birds returned Wednesday to his coastal hometown, where he was warmly welcomed by friends and family.

"I feel very happy to be back," Jose Salvador Alvarenga said Wednesday. "I'm home." Dozens of residents shook his hand.

The 37-year-old sailor left the hospital Tuesday after days of treatment for the physical and psychological effects of his voyage.

His 14-year-old daughter, Fatima Mabea, who hadn't seen Alvarenga since she was a baby, hugged him and told him, "I love you. I'm not going to let you go again."

His wife, Arely Barrera, who hadn't seen him for 10 years after he moved to Mexico, also greeted him and kissed him on the cheek.

Alvarenga's story stunned the world when he washed up on a Pacific atoll several weeks ago, seemingly robust and barely sunburned. But he turned out to be swollen, dehydrated and in pain from the ordeal.

He has said he came close to giving up hope of being rescued after several large ships came near his small fishing boat but none tried to rescue him, even though sailors on at least one even waved at him.

Doctors have been amazed by his physical condition after traveling 6,500 miles (10,000 kilometers) in a small fishing boat from Mexico to the Marshall Islands. He was believed lost in a storm while fishing off the coast of Mexico.

On Tuesday, doctors said he seemed mentally well, though he is now afraid of the sea.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Spy Gadgets
    A big collection of equipment that would make James Bond envious is on display in Seattle

  • Grab Brunch
    Find a good spot for your Sunday brunch

  • Week in Photos
    Holy Week, white tiger's reflection, and Easter goes to the fishes make up this week's photos
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.