MAJURO, Marshall Islands: The health of a castaway who says he survived a 13-month Pacific odyssey has worsened and he wants the right to privacy when he returns home to El Salvador.
Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a fisherman, was ordered to rest by doctors in the Marshall Islands after he was released from a hospital following a health scare. The 37-year-old was supposed to head home on Friday, but officials delayed his departure until early next week because doctors ruled he was too weak to fly after he suffered back pain and swelling in his lower extremities. Franklyn House, a retired American doctor working with the California-based Canvasback Missions group in the Marshall Islands, has observed and spoken with Alvarenga several times since his arrival. House said he believes Alvarenga is also suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome because of the change in his demeanor from Monday when he was engaged with doctors to being withdrawn on Thursday. Meanwhile, Irene Sanchez, communications chief of El Salvador foreign ministry, told Agence France-Presse that Alvarenga “wants privacy and does not want to see the media” when he returns home adding that Alvarenga’s family has also asked to be left alone. Alvarenga says he left a Mexican village in late December 2012 on a small fishing boat with a companion and got lost at sea, forcing him to survive by eating raw fish and birds and drinking his own urine, turtle blood and rainwater. His companion, he said, died after several days after they got lost because he refused to eat raw food and drink blood.