Jose Salvador Alvarenga seemed in pretty good shape when he washed ashore last week after what he said was more than a year lost at sea. Today, however, the Salvadoran—sporting a short, new haircut and a shave—appeared a lot worse for the wear and needed help entering his hotel in the Marshall Islands. "He was much weaker, extremely tired looking, much less animated, and was speaking extremely slowly. He looked exhausted, frankly," a witness tells the AP. "I would say he made an impression that is really now far more consistent with the journey he said he made." Though the Daily Mail notes Alvarenga is to fly to El Salvador today, the AP reports officials say it could be a while longer as more hospital checks are needed.
And though doubts still linger about such a long stint in the Pacific Ocean—especially given Alvarenga's initial healthy appearance—a separate AP story has this quote from a survival specialist: "The appearances of malnutrition can manifest differently depending on how short you are on calories or protein... It's only in end stage starvation that people get that really emaciated appearance." He added that if Alvarenga had been overweight when he set off, "it would be a significant advantage." Meanwhile, the family of Alvarenga's fishing mate, Ezequiel Cordoba—who Alvarenga says died after four months at sea—is hoping to "find out was it really our brother who he is talking about... We need confirmation from (Alvarenga) before we can accept his death." (Read more Jose Salvador Alvarenga stories.)