Real life ‘Castaway’ stranded at sea for 13 months - The Daily Athenaeum: Opinion

Real life ‘Castaway’ stranded at sea for 13 months

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 12:21 am | Updated: 12:23 am, Mon Feb 10, 2014.

When Tom Hanks was lost at sea with nothing but a volleyball named Wilson, it was a top grossing movie, but now there is a real castaway.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga lived through misery at sea with nothing but his boat and dreams. According to CNN, Alvarenga was lost at sea for 13 months and lived off raw turtles, birds and even his own urine.

Alvarenga was a fisherman working in Mexico and washed up on the shores of the Marshall Islands Jan. 30.

“There were times I would think about killing myself. But I was scared to do it,” Alvarenga said. “The hardest thing I had to do to survive was to drink my own urine.”

This story is about a miracle of a man’s will to keep living and survive Earth’s toughest elements.

Immediately as this story began to surface throughout the media, there were skeptics questioning Alvarenga’s story and how this was even possible.

“It’s a huge surprise. No one survives more than three or four years in those conditions,” Belarmino Rodriquez Solis, a fellow fisherman, said to the New York Daily News. “We even placed flowers in the palm hut where he lived.”

“What he has said to us about his identity, so far, has been true,” said Christian Clay-Mendoza, a top Mexican trade official.

It’s probable Alvarenga was really lost all that time because his boat was reported missing in December 2012. From where he was fishing and where he ended up in the Marshall Islands, he would have traveled more than 6,600 miles.

When the facts of this story continue to come out, more people will appreciate his courage. The sacrifices and obstacles he had to overcome to stay alive and sane must have been remarkable.

The average human can’t go without their cell phone for more than a couple hours. So imagine no food or water for 13 months? The only way humans can ever understand what he went through would be watching the movie “Castaway” or a Discovery Channel special.

Since the time Alvarenga has washed ashore, his health diminished, delaying his trip back home to his hometown in El Salvador.

“Doctors say he’s severely dehydrated and low on vitamins and minerals,” Clay-Mendoza said. According to Clay-Mendoza, the doctors said his limbs have begun to swell, and he can’t keep any water or food in his system.

Beside this heroic survival story, the sad part for Alvarenga is he lost his fellow fisherman while at sea. Alvarenga’s story started with he and 23-year-old Ezequiel Cordova going out to fish sharks for the day, but they were thrown off course by wind and eventually lost their engine.

Four weeks into the trip, Alvarenga said Cordova died of starvation because he would not eat any of the raw birds or turtles they caught on the boat. Alvarenga had to push his companion off the boat and move on with his living nightmare.

After understanding Alvarenga’s plight, you can’t help but to feel bad for this man who went to hell and back to see his family again. The will power to survive three months without fresh rain water in itself is amazing, but to only eat raw birds and turtles is sickening as it is shocking.

Alvarenga will need to open up about his story when his health improves, and truly knowing what he lived through the community should honor him.

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