Castaway Arrives Home a Celebrity

Fisherman back in El Salvador after 13 months adrift
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2014 4:13 AM CST
Castaway Arrives Home a Celebrity
Jose Salvador Alvarenga sits on a couch in Majuro in the Marshall Islands, after he was rescued from being washed ashore on the tiny atoll of Ebon.   (AP Photo/Foreign Affairs Department The Marshall Islands, Gee Bing, File)

A fisherman who says he spent 13 months drifting across the Pacific Ocean finally made it home to El Salvador last night and was overwhelmed by the welcome. Jose Salvador Alvarenga was met by family members, government officials, and dozens of journalists. He attempted to address the media but was speechless and appeared to cry, the AP reports. "We ask for your understanding. He’s had a very exhausting trip," the country's foreign minister said.

Alvarenga, who says he survived by catching fish, birds, and turtles on the 6,500 mile journey from Mexico to the Marshall Islands, left the airport in a wheelchair accompanied by his parents—who thought he had died during the eight years he spent as a fisherman in Mexico—and his daughter. He will have to undergo more health checks before he can return to his coastal village, CNN reports. It's not clear what his plans for the future are. "He doesn't know what awaits him," a foreign ministry spokeswoman says. "He doesn't know what it is like to be a celebrity, or how to respond to all the media attention." Experts say Alvarenga's incredible tale of survival is humanly possible, and details from officials give his story credibility. (More Jose Salvador Alvarenga stories.)

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