Castaway Drifts Ashore After a Year At Sea

Jose Salvador Alvarenga

Chiapas, Mexico rescue services official Jaime Marroquín confirmed to The Guardian that a boat manned by two fisherman was reported missing from Costa Azul, Mexico two days after it set out on Nov. 17, 2012. The report was lodged by the boat's owner, a member of the Camaroneros de la Costa co-operative, which Alvarenga has mentioned in an interview. 

Marroquín, who oversaw the search operation, said the weather was very bad and it was possible the boat was blown out to the ocean. "The winds were high," he said. "We carried out an intense search but we had to stop the search flights after two days because of poor visibility."

A Salvadoran newspaper, El Mundo, tracked down the parents of Alvarenga. They said their son moved to Chiapas, Mexico to work on shark fishing boats, but the family lost contact with him eight years ago when he stopped visiting his hometown.

"We thought he must be dead," Maria Julia Alvarenga reportedly told the paper. "I cannot find the words to describe how I feel, as his mother, to know that he has been found."

Alvarenga told Telemundo that he wept when he spoke to his family on the phone. "I was going to kill myself," he said of his journey. "I wanted to kill myself but no, I asked God to save me."

El Salvador's foreign ministry has released a statement saying that the castaway will return first to Mexico then back to his home country of El Salvador. Alvarenga is reportedly in fair health, although he suffers from a weak immune system and swollen ankles. 

What are your thoughts about the bizarre story?