Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga's Health Worsens Amid Doubts Over His Story
Jose Salvador Alvarenga says he survived for more than a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean. He drank his own urine and ate fish, turtles, and birds to stay alive. Now, the purported castaway is back at a hospital in the Marshall Islands, unable to return home to Mexico because of deteriorating health. Doctors say he is too dehydrated to travel and is low on vitamins and minerals. It seems he hasn't been drinking enough water since arriving on land, with medical officials attributing it to his consumption of small amounts while he was at sea.
It’s a story right out of the movies: a real life castaway floating more than 5,000 miles and surviving on so little. Alvarenga, a fisherman from El Salvador, says he left Mexico in December 2012 with a friend called Ezekiel, who died during the trip. Ezekiel's family is pressing him for details on what happened to the body (what did he say before he died? What did Alverenga do with Ezekiel after his death? Someone's at sea for months...we're imagining the worst). He says he wanted to kill himself after his shipmate passed away.
Those who have heard the story, including officials, have been skeptical about the authenticity of Alverenga's story, with many saying he was looking pretty healthy during his first public appearance. Even the cultural anthropologist who first spoke to him when he washed ashore had his doubts.
I guess I was in the same boat as everyone else. There was a big group at the dock when he arrived the other day, and he stepped off the boat and he didn't look like the emaciated castaway that we all expected. He had a little meat left on his bones and he was walking, of course with help, but we were expecting someone super fragile, really frail, super emaciated. From that, everyone thought, 'This can't be a true story.' But after talking to him, this is what i'm telling everyone. There's no reason to doubt his story. It may not have been 16 months, but there's no doubt in my mind that he was out to sea for a very long time and he's one of the greatest survivors that have ever lived.
Do new health concerns bring legitimacy to Alverenga's account? He may be susceptible to infections after contact with other humans, and those close to him say he's in a weakened state and not as "animated" as they had seen him to be. An investigation is still ongoing to detail the timeline of events, but some skeptics seems to be changing their tune with the new medical revelations.